Many of you will already be aware of the series of Urban Nights races that Dark Peak’s Tim Tent organises on Facebook each winter. I’ve always fancied having a go at some of them and this year I’ve decided to bite the bullet. The first of this year’s series was the Great Urban Fell Race. Having paid a princely sum of £1, Loz Harvey, formerly of this parish and now of HRRC, and I were presented with a map showing the three checkpoints; the top of Crookes (the railings at the end of Longfield Road to be precise), the viewing Platform at Parkwood Springs and the top of Wincobank Fort – out task was to reach them in any order BUT Herries Road and Rutland Road were off limits, forcing you to cross at the end of Livesey Street into Wardsend Cemetery, and through either of the two bottom entrances to Parkwood Springs in the other direction. There’s a long course and a short course – we (probably unwisely) elected to run the long course. A better prepared team would have probably done their homework and pre-planned a route; we were not that team. So after staring at the slightly too small map for ten minutes we set off towards the top of Crookes from the start (Tim Tett’s garage on Roebuck Road). From there we elected to tackle Parkwood Springs second and then on through Grimesthorpe to Wincobank hill fort, before returning via Shirecliffe, where some local lads threw things at us by way of encouragement. Eventually we returned to the aforementioned garage and were unsurprised to learn that we were dead last. We’d travelled a fairly inefficient 18kms and climbed 540 metres in the process. However the prospect of a November barbecue cheered us both up as we reflected on how we might improve next year; planning a route and not undertaking the race whilst carrying a post Snowdonia Marathon injury (Loz, not me) being the obvious first steps.
Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable night out and I’m definitely looking at taking part in some of the others in the series – the next event is the Springvale Spiral on the 7th December; it would be good to see a few more Striders there. Details can be found on Facebook by searching for Urban Nights.
The long course race was won by Johnny Crickmore in a frankly ridiculously quick 61.22, the short course event was won by Joe Sweetnam-Powell in 50.24. Chris Lawson, who is, I believe a second claim Strider also ran the long course in a very respectable 83.52, whilst Phil Howson, who is also I suspect a second claim (or possibly third or even fourth) Strider was second in the short course event. Loz and I posted a frankly unimpressive 170 minutes – plenty of room for improvement there!