Shuttlingsloe fell race 2023 report by Rich Jones

Race date: 21 May 2023

Race distance: 1.9 miles

Race report by Rich Jones

Some people may say that the best time to decide to do your first ever fell race isn’t halfway through a Sunday dinner, 2 hours before it starts. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to the people at the table with me who did say that.

Browsing Facebook whilst enjoying the Sunday sun in a beer garden, between photos of Striders racing round Dronfield I spotted an advert for Macclesfield Forest & Wildboarclough Rose Queen Fetes. Between the promise of Ice Creams, Welly Wanging and a Dog show it mentioned Shutlingsloe Fell Run. “That could be a laugh” I thought, especially when I looked and saw it was only 3km long!

Turning up in my running kit and road trainers I expected to see a collection of odds and sods taking up the challenge. Instead what I saw was just under a hundred premier athletes with club tops and trail shoes milling around amongst the tombolas and the splat-a-rat.

The race itself starts in a field just below the fete, which is held in the private gardens of Crag Hall, a property owned by the Earl of Derby. His Earlship took part in the race himself, one of 6 ‘Crag Hall Runners’- an unofficial running club with a giant boar head on the back of their club tops- very medieval!

After setting off on a marked route down the hill, and scrambling down a bank to a backroad, we came to a river crossing. A paddle around in Clough Brook would normally be just the ticket on a hot Sunday afternoon, but not when you’re about to climb a hill known as the ‘Matterhorn of Cheshire’. Onto the bank on the far side, you find yourself scrambling up a wooded hill of bluebells (and occasionally falling back down if you decided to do this in damp road trainers!)

Out of the bluebells and up a farm track as you get to the hill proper – a steep climb along a gravel track for about 800ft and the start of the rocky moorland section as you climb 500ft over a half mile. No real trail route here, just following the large number of people ahead of me!

Getting to the top and touching the trig point, a glance at my watch made me realise if I wanted to get the course record and its cash prize, I’d need to do the second half of the race in under 4 seconds. A challenge for another day perhaps. A good excuse for a breather and to admire the brilliant views over the Cheshire flats and the Staffordshire Peak District.

Back down much as you go up, using a bum-sliding technique on some of the steep moors, and a falling-with-style slide down through the bluebells. Splashing across the brook once more, I just had the hill back to Crag Hall to go. A run-walk up the field, as some loonies passed me doing a second lap and, after seeing the panic in my eyes, reassured me this wasn’t a multi-lap event.

To finish you have to tap out on the wall between the garden and the field – by the time I got to that point almost everyone had finished, but there was great support both from fellow runners and those who had decided cream teas and coconut shies were a more sensible way to spend the afternoon!

For a small race with modest advertising and no thrills of medals or mementos, it was a well attended high spirits affair – and if you find yourself in the Leek/Buxton/Macclesfield area next year when its on, I’d recommend it – but don’t forget your trail shoes! It has a total climb of 886 ft, and you enter on the day: £4 this year.

The winners were Simon Bailey of Staffordshire Moorlands Athletics Club with a time of 16:13 (Simon is also the course record holder from 2004 where he did it in 15:11) and Rachel Hall of Macclesfield Harriers with a time of 22:07. Honourable mention (pun intended) for the Earl of Derby who completed it in 29:53. In total there were 90 runners.

Striders result

Pos Cat Time
85 Richard Bailey-Jones MSEN 38:08

Full results:

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