Race Date: Tuesday 30th May 2023
According to the reputable source of Wikipedia the Hallam Chase is “the oldest continuous fell race in the world” beginning in 1862 with a rather ridiculous 10-mile steeple chase. Over time it’s developed into the 3.5mile handicapped fell race it is today. After being inspired by Jo Gleig’s triumph in 2022 I entered this year’s race. When entering you provide various race times so that your handicap can be calculated. I gave my parkrun PB, Graves parkrun PB, 10K PB, and hoped for the best. When the handicaps were announced, it seemed pretty good for me, I was in 4th position with Jo Gleig not far behind in 8th position. I decided I had one goal, and that was to beat my partner Seth. Ever since I introduced him to parkrun the only celebration I get has been the occasions he hasn’t managed to lap me (imagine the torment when Hillborough Parkrun had a 5 lap course). Outright beating him across the finish line at Hallam Chase felt like the right kind of goal to continue our running rivalry. Seth’s handicap meant I had an 18.40 minute advantage over him. If I stuck to my race plan of going as fast as I possibly could, I think I could beat him.
Tuesday afternoon came around and, my feeling of nervous apprehension began. This was much to Seth’s amusement. I assume because he thought it would make overtaking me much easier.We arrived at Hallam FC/Cricket Club (which one is it?) in good time and collected our race numbers which were pegged along the railings in front of the cricket clubhouse. We followed the strict guidance not to take the pegs home (the race organisers wife wouldn’t be able to hang the washing out). Each race number has a sticker on the back with your starting time. I was 8.03pm which, of course, I promptly forgot (something more to get nervous about!). Fortunately you’re set off in number order so forgetting didn’t really matter anyway.
I nervously waited at the start line, and then at 8.03 I was off. A quick run across the cricket field and out the little gate onto Sandygate Road. Then the hill begins with a sprint down Coldwell Lane and Hagg Lane and a left turn down a technical (to me anyway) path and onto a field. I couldn’t see any of the runners that set off ahead of me but had a good idea there was someone gaining on me from how quickly the crowd cheered behind me. Over a couple of stiles and then I was down at Rivelin Valley Road – did anyone else find the Water Treatment Works particularly stinky? Then the uphill began with a right turn onto Tofts Lane, what felt like a barely runnable hill. The big crowd of spectators outside The Rivelin pub pressured me into giving it a go and I managed to shuffle up to the top (possibly no faster than I would have walked it). Some vocal striders did an excellent job of giving me a boost. Then it was past the pub and a right turn to some more hill and another grassy field where Matt Francis (Totley) passed me with a bit too much ease. I saw a group of spectators and thought they were at the top of the hill. My heart sank as I saw the front runner plod past them. Onwards for some more hill. Somewhere around here I managed to overtake what was the first lady and I continued to run, shuffle, and walk, to a road with a group of spectators, surely the turn around point? Nope, we crossed the road and continued up Church Street until I saw the friendly face of Paul Shelton and realised I’d made it to the top. A quick loop round and back down the hill, just one more uphill to go. As I got onto the grassy field I could hear fast footsteps coming down the hill. What I thought was going to be a mountain goat turned out to be Helen Elleker (2 Dash) who flew past me and offered some friendly advice to “let yourself go on the downhill”. That’s easier said than done. Didn’t Helen know it was very steep, a bit uneven under foot, and there were nettles about?
Now a deluge of the speedier runners started coming up the hill which I was going down. I really don’t know what the etiquette is here. I couldn’t really shout “faster runners coming through” because that would be untruthful, but I’m trying to chase down Mountain Goat Helen ahead of me, so I don’t want to politely move out of the way for everyone. Then I passed Seth coming up the hill. He looked pretty worn out and I had a good amount of distance on him. I knew he could catch me so I needed to dig in. I got down to the pub with only a couple of nettle stings and having only elbowed one or two runners. Past the striders cheer club (excellent work again!) and then down Tofts Lane. Again, too steep to do anything other than a shuffle. Along stinky Rivelin Valley Road and then the ascent began. Starting up the hill I managed to overtake Kenny Rowe (Penistone) and Derek Brailsford (Hallamshire) – who won the trophy for first to reach Stannington.
I used a tactical walk with some big strides and then I realised I’d started gaining on Mountain Goat Helen. Then over a stile (legs felt like jelly) and up the technical bit and I turned the corner onto Hagg Lane. More striders cheer club, this time from the Brashes. There’s a distinct possibility I didn’t even acknowledge them in my jelly legged, breathless, daze, but the cheers gave me a much-needed boost. Then what I can only describe as a gazelle in the form of Jim Rangeley, sprinted past me up Coldwell Lane. Then a few moments later I was over the brow of the hill (Jim not even a speck in the distance) and Mountain Goat Helen was through the gate for the last half a lap of the field with me closely behind her. I picked up the pace and so did she, but she’d run out of gas and I was able to get past her and across the finish line in a time of 45.46. The next strider across the line was Emily Jones in a time of 46.22. Followed by Hallam Chase royalty, Jo Gleig in 46.47 with Seth Kirby hot on her tail.
The overall winner was Matt Francis in a time of 44.35 and the first lady was… me in a time of 45.46. The first strider over the line was Jim Rangeley with a time of 44.57 (actual time 29.17).
The fastest male runner was Paul Middlemas with a rather unbelievable actual time of 24.53.
The fastest female runner was Nicola Squire (Hallamshire) with an actual time of 27.18.
So, in summary, the race brought out a type of nervousness I’d never felt before, it was hard, but it was great fun and I’d thoroughly recommend you take part.
Also, did I mention I beat Seth? If you could remind him of that, that would be great, thanks.
|2||20||Jim Rangeley||M Sen||29.17|
|7 (1)||59(14)||Eleanor Bull||F Sen||42.46|
|11 (4)||51(10)||Emily Jones||F Sen||36.52|
|15 (6)||57(12)||Jo Gleig||FV 60||40.46|
|16||2||Seth Kirby||M Sen||25.07|
|19||55||Chris Reece||MV 70||39.01|
|20||33||Matt Broadhead||MV 45||31.41|
|22||10||Neil Scholfield||MV 50||26.55|
|24||1||Paul Middlemas||MV 40||24.53|
|28(7)||22 (3)||Ellen Broad||F Sen||29.37|
|30||41||Eric Latham||MV 45||33.17|
|31(8)||14(2)||Sian Evans||MV 45||28.00|
|34||46||Tom Nuttgens||MV 55||35.00|
|37||15||Richard Carter||MV 40||28.05|
|40||26||Al Cook||MV 50||30.08|
|42||13||Chris Ireland||MV 60||27.42|
|45(12)||35(5)||Kathy Liddiard||F Sen||31.50|
|51(13)||34(4)||Fiona Jeffries||FV 50||31.45|
|53||40||Neal Pates||MV 55||32.26|
|55(15)||37(6)||Laura Mella||F Sen||32.02|
|56||50||Ryan Talley||MV 55||36.44|
|59||31||Jed Turner||MV 60||31.29|
|62||43||Ian Black||MV 50||34.22|
Full Results: https://www.thehallamchase.org.uk/resources/Combined-Results-2023.pdf