13th August 2022
Report by Nada Ross & Jo Gleig
On a swelteringly hot Saturday afternoon in August a handful of brave Striders joined a local race up a hill in a Derbyshire village.
The event turned out to be a 5 mile category A Short Tour of Bradwell and a counter in the English Fell Running Championships, attracting experienced and hardy runners. What had we let ourselves in for?
With midday temperatures on the day soaring to 30 degrees, the women’s race was due to start first. We nervously assembled in a field at the bottom of a steep incline. The race began at 1pm and we set off vertically, with the front runners pushing on ahead and leaving many others speed climbing (walking) within minutes. A steep grassy decent immediately followed and this pattern continued over the challenging terrain to the very top.
Eventually at the summit, we were treated to a decent level-ish trail path over the tops and able to appreciate the stunning views from Bradwell Edge in the sizzling heat.
Thankfully, the course was brilliantly marshalled with frequent water stops, with water gratefully taken in the face, down the neck and over the head!
As the route turned sharply down the hillside we believed the end must be fast approaching. Just one last brutal climb thrown in for fun (this is fell running) before the finish at the village sports club pavilion.
All survived the course and coped well in the heat. Everyone was truly exhausted.
Report by Caroline Brock
The hot weekend of Bradwell Fell Race feels like a long time ago now we’ve had a cooler bank holiday. We’ve probably all just about recovered and are starting to forget how hard it was.
Bradwell was part of our fell championships and also part of the English Fell Running Championships which meant it was going to attract some of the top runners in the country, including our own Striders contingent. It also meant there would be separate women’s and men’s races, women at 1pm and men at 2:30pm.
With the forecast being so hot the organisers decided to shorten the course slightly allowing us to be shaded whilst waiting for the start. This took about 800m off the distance but also meant we were starting pretty much straight into the first climb! My history with warm weather races is not fantastic so I spent the week hydrating including a beer or two whilst spectating at Ricky’s race. Saturday morning arrived and I felt rested and ready to go, just the small matter of hills and heat to overcome.
Bradwell is an annual fell race so the course was familiar to some of us but with an added descent and ascent at the end, excellent.
The number pick up was very efficient with the numbers hanging on pegs with names on. Discussions were had about carrying water, sunglasses, suncream etc. A soft flask of water was many runners’ choice including my own. A quick warm up and chats with other runners about what lay ahead of us and we were soon lining up in a field and waiting to go. I had set my expectations on a top 20 finish, I knew there would be some talented ladies racing and having never run at an English champs before I had no idea how I would compare. The start was basically a long line across the field so nowhere to hide!
Not long after the start the route goes straight up a hill and climbs endlessly through a field, with plenty of spectator support. I was not far off the front pack at this point and I was immediately thinking something was going wrong and I’d started too fast. But, I am a stronger climber than descender so I just kept pushing. There was a small amount of respite at the top of the field before you are heading straight back down it, trying to stay upright! This is when you can try to watch and admire the descending skills of the other runners.
The course heads up to Bradwell edge where there was a very welcome water stop before sending you back down again almost to the village. The descent here was super dry and slippy and I was trying to keep up with the 2 girls in front of me but by this point I had no idea what position I was in and was too hot to worry much about it, I just wanted to get to the finish line! There was another water stop at the bottom of the descent but I managed to miss the cup as I was running past, I know the water would have tasted so good! I pushed on up the hill and managed to pass the 2 girls ahead. The climb here really was endless and I had been running for a while when I thought perhaps I should walk as I was feeling a little hot! We soon popped out near the top of the climb and Mozzie Photography was there to capture our hot faces. It was a welcome friendly face by this point in the race.
Back out onto Bradwell edge and we had a few fields to cross and another water stop before we were descending back down to retrace our steps from the start. One of the runners I had passed on the climb caught me here and made up so much time on the descents, it was good to watch. Soon we were at the bottom of the last climb and I had really been dreading this hill! A very slow run turned into a hot walk trying to keep my position in the race. Luckily we were near the finish and for once we didn’t have to do a lap of the field to finish!
There was water handed to us immediately and a shelter to fall under and get some shade. Our men were there at the finish patiently (I think) waiting for their race with the temperature still rising and I was glad my race was over! There was a cold shower in the village hall which felt INCREDIBLE!!!
I missed the start of the men’s race as I was trying to cool myself down but we were there at the finish and I think it’s fair to say we all looked a bit worn out when we crossed the finish line. Watching runners practically fall over the line, they had really given it their all. Everyone was looking after each other and it was a real party at the end. There was beer, tea, pizza, ice cream and lots of chat about what we had all just been through. Kudos to all!
In the end I came 7th in the women’s race, well above my expectations and a nice surprise.
Women’s race results
Men’s race results