Hoppits Hill race 2023 report

Matt Broadhead making running look very difficult

Race date: 26 February 2023

Race distance: 4.85km

If I’d have known beforehand that this race was organised by Nicky Spinks, I’d have realised it was going to be harder than it looked and I’d probably have done less strength training during the week. (The full name of the race is The David Bell Memorial Hoppits Hill Race. It’s named after a friend of Nicky’s, and part of the course is actually on the farm Nicky used to run.)

The official course description is just: “These are challenging little routes which I hope everyone will enjoy.”

Hoppits Hill takes place just outside Mirfield, and very near where I grew up, so when I saw it on the FRA website I was never not going to give it a try. There are three juniors’ races from under-9s up to under-13s, and under-15/under-17 races are on the same course (at the same time) as the seniors’ race. After some thought I decided to opt for the senior one.

I arrived at Upper Hopton Cricket Club and walked up to the registration tent just as the presentations for the junior races were taking place, collected my number and because I’d been out and about all morning, grabbed a sandwich and a cuppa in the nice little clubhouse café. Back out to the start line and I found another couple of Sheffield-based runners to chat to, then we were off and straight into an uphill track through woodland. It was only 500m long but with an average gradient of about 17%, gradually picking up from 10% to 20%, it was a statement of intent. This was no easy three-mile trundle. A quick flattish section gave you no time to get your breath back, before you were pelting full-speed downhill and bang into another short-sharp climb that caught me so by surprise I briefly had to walk at the top. Then quick as a flash it’s another steep drop, a tricky right turn onto a fast shallow descent, another tricky turn a quick up-down and back on to the finish field for an uphill sprint. I was a wreck by the end: it’s not long or extreme but it’s all sudden changes and hard running, no chance to catch your breath. If I do it again, I’ll give myself more than one rest day beforehand!

I got beaten by loads of kids, which makes a refreshing change from getting beaten by people 30 years older than me. The three shorter junior races had a combined 54 finishers, and 25 of the 121 finishers in the main race were in a junior category. Brilliantly, the race was won by an under-19 (William Hall of Calder Valley Fell Runners, in 19:57), with four under-17s in the top 10. Equally brilliantly the top two females were under-15s, led by Calder Valley’s Clara McKee in 21:32. West Yorkshire fell running looks to have a very bright future.

It does seem a long way to drive for a three-mile race, but it’s not that far. People do Parkrun tourism over all sorts of distances, and this event has an awful lot to recommend it. A lovely setting, a famous name, a thoughfully designed course and the chance to run against clubs we don’t always see down in the short Peak District races: Saddleworth, Beverley and Calder Valley were out in numbers, with plenty from Penistone and Barnsley closer to home.

Striders result

P Name Cat Time
63 Matt Broadhead M40 28:09

Full results: http://www.hoppits.co.uk/2023%20Results.htm

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