Race date: Friday 14th July 2023
Report by: Seth Kirby
Distance approx 4.6km.
More recently, I seem to have become the roving Grenoside race reporter… The annual Grenochase was back with a bang and a smattering of rain in the end! 2023 saw this race return after a hiatus since 2019 – which was the first time I ran the race.
On a wet Friday night, the race was due to start at 7pm and we (Ellie and I) turned up to pick up our race numbers soaked from an off-road warm-up on some of the trails up to Grenoside. There were marquees set up in Grenoside Park just behind Grenoside Community Centre. We picked up our race number and our wristband from the tent, and then headed back inside the community centre to get cover from the rain – as the race wasn’t set to start for another hour!
More runners started to arrive in an attempt to keep dry in the doorway. As we approached the start time I went to warm-up and said hello to a few Striders and other runners (of course, missing the pre-race Striders photo!).
On the warm-up I was trying my best to remember the route but to be honest I had sort of forgotten the route from the last time, and thought there were two hill climbs instead of one constant drag up Stephen Lane. Also, back in 2019, I remember the weather being glorious and the streets near the pubs were packed! I decided not to do a full lap of the route and just ran up and down some of the side streets in Grenoside.
I then came back to a smaller marquee outside and huddled around to keep warm with other Striders. We got asked by the organisers if we wanted to enter a team for this evening and we needed five runners. John Liddle came up with the original name of ‘Seth’s Striders’ and we were ready to go. We then walked over to the starting area, listened to the race briefing and we were sent on our way!
By this time the rain had slowed and everyone bolted off the grass and onto the Main Street. We then encountered the first of a few hazards in this race report… A taxi reversing on the race route nearly ploughed into Ewan who was at the front. Both he and a few others dodged this vehicle and headed for the first time up Stephen Lane.
I actually backed off a little on this climb as I thought there was another hill to come, and I was still tired from other sessions I had done earlier on in the week. But I knew I was only going to be out for less than 20 minutes! As we passed a couple of groups cheering on the streets there was a photographer taking photos around the middle of the climb and Ewan was off like a rocket in the distance.
A guy came past me on this climb and I then passed him on the descent on Skew Hill Lane – anybody that has run with me knows that I’m a pretty weak descender on any race terrain, so I was quite happy to drop somebody going downhill! We continued downhill past the Cow and Calf pub and an excitable marshal who was shouting motivating expletives at me (words not to be repeated!) haha. The route then turns back onto Main Street towards the community centre where people were still camped out cheering loudly.
By this stage, I was starting to close on Ewan but I thought the gap was too large and sought to maintain a consistent pace, especially for the second time up Stephen Lane. My glasses were still misting up and I couldn’t see much beyond 50 metres in front, so I just carried on trying to enjoy myself up the hill.
The next section of the course flashed by until I reached the turn back onto Main Street where I glanced over to see some of the motorists arguing with some of the marshals about the road being closed. I later found out from others that a car had driven onto the course and crashed into a marshal and other runners!
I managed to turn the corner and head back down to the community centre and I could see Ewan up ahead who was now entering the park, so I thought I should hurry up too. We didn’t have to do a lap of the park for this race, which I quite enjoyed in past events… I came through the finish line, congratulated Ewan and the chap behind me, and then spent an obscene amount of time attempting to take off my silly yellow race timing wristband!
I then went for a cool-down lap on the closed roads, lapped a guy running with a double buggy (to the words ‘you swine’) and rejoined the gang of Striders at the finish area to share stories and successes of the race – Helen told us she thought she had finished second! Unfortunately, I told Ellie the news that I might have won a prize but she was happy to stay. The prize giving was not until 9pm so we went for chips and to the pub for a drink beforehand.
From the prize ceremony, I was hoping for at most a box of chocolates but ended up with a trophy (more details below) – which is going to be engraved! So now Ellie is not the only one in the household that is part of Sheffield’s running history haha. It was great to have the Grenochase back, just a shame about the incident on the course. I urge you to go and support the chase next year!
The race was won by Ewan Heritage in 16:09 (he may have been a Strider in the past but clearly not anymore! I have definitely led him on club runs from Hillsborough…) claiming The James Birch, Grenoside Chase Cup (first unattached amateur non club runner). I won the Tracey Biggins Memorial Cup – 1st attached club runner (for AAA affiliated members). The first team (best 4 of 5 runners) was Hillsborough & Rivelin Running Club who were awarded the KD Emma Memorial Trophy.
A brief bit of history on the trophies: First of all The James Birch, Grenoside Chase Cup. The original “Great Grenoside Steeplechase” first engraved in 1870 has been passed down through generations within an old Grenoside family, the Birch family (further history here). For the ‘professionals’ award, the Tracey Biggins Memorial Cup is named after Tracey Biggins, who was a well loved and respected resident of Grenoside and her husband Darrall still sponsors the chase. I’m really happy to have won a prize that recognises someone so closely connected to the Grenoside community, and I would have very much liked to have met Tracey, but I do thank Darrall for his continual involvement in the chase too. The KD Emma Memorial Trophy is in acknowledgement of a close friend of the Hughes family who organise the chase and who still come to support the race every year.
First lady was Julia Cobham of Hillsborough & Rivelin Running Club in 21:28. Helen Royles-Jones (Steel City Striders) was 2nd, which was fantastic! 107 runners completed the race and there were 10 Striders who ran the chase.