Trigger (Marsden to Edale) fell race 2023

Race date: Sunday 8 Jan 2023

Report by Louis Wood

The Trigger (Marsden to Edale) fell race sees runners navigate their way from Marsden over Black Hill, Bleaklow and Kinder to Edale visiting three trigs points on route. The linear route is measured at 21 miles with 1650m climb, but most runners cover between 23-25 miles depending on route choice.

The weather was better than it often is, with runners starting in sunshine and only encountering strong winds and some rain in the second half of the race. Conditions underfoot were less forgiving, with the high volume of recent rain filling the bogs and streams, which made for tough going in places. The two significant river crossings were, however, surprisingly straightforward – no ropes or human chains required to stop runners being washed away this year.

The race officially starts at 8:30am, but as anyone who has run the Trigger before knows, it really starts at about 5am when the alarm goes off and you make your way to ‘Trigger Bus’ for the hour-long drive through the dark to Marsden Cricket Club. It was pouring down when we got off the bus, but the weather gods decided to be merciful and released the sun in time for the start.

There is no significant navigation required in the first half of the race, but it does include the long steady climb to the first trig at Blackhill. It is easy to get carried away and go too fast here. I made a determined effort to hold back this time round, so was equally pleased and concerned to see I made it to Crowden only a few mins down on my 2020 effort, when I paid for my early exuberance in the final few miles.

After running the long way round Torside reservoir you face the second major climb – a slippery, muddy trudge up to Bleaklow and the first bit of serious compass work to find the second trig at Higher Shelf Stones. When the clag is down, this part of the course is a challenge, but in relatively clear conditions, finding the checkpoint was pretty straightforward.

In a change to the route, runners were sent east from the trig, past the B52 wreck and back on to the Pennine Way to avoid erosion on the more direct old route. This is a sensible decision, but a shame as it was some of the best running on the whole race and meant an extra mile or so of stumbling along the rocky path leading to the Snake Pass.

From the road crossing, the race takes an almost direct line south to the final trig on Kinder. Again, the navigation was fairly simple given the visibility, but the rain and wind closed in. It got cold and the climb up the near vertical slope to crest the plateau seemingly went on for ever (though in reality it took about 10 minutes).

From the final trig all that was required was to cross Kinder and drop down into Edale. From the Kinder Downfall waterfall (more of an upfall in the wind), the route moved away from the edge path and struck into the heart of Kinder heading towards the southern side. This was only point where I lost the path on the route, but knowing all I needed to do was head broadly southeast it wasn’t a major issue, and I soon found myself on the familiar territory of the path above Edale.

For once, I’d paced it well and even had the energy to charge down the precipitous hillside into the village and make up a few places on the run in, rather than losing them, as more usually happens.

The finish had moved 50 yards further down the road away from the campsite. The extra distance isn’t a problem, but the lack of a hot shower at the finish was a definite regression! Still, plentiful hot food and sweet tea was still available for all runners in the community hall, and an hour of weary post-race chat soon soothed away any bad memories from the race.

The race was won by Joe Oldfield (Matlock AC) in 3:16:30 – just a few minutes off the race record. First woman, and 15th overall, was Martha Tibbot (Saddleworth Runners Club) in 4:08:25. There were 166 finishers and only 9 DNFs – lower than usual, perhaps reflecting the good weather.

All 6 Striders who started the race completed it this year, and were joined by a significant number of friends and ex-Striders from other local clubs like Dronfield and Dark Peak.

Striders results

Pos Name Cat Time
34 Louis Wood M40 04:34:30
128 Nigel Barnes M40 05:55:52
129 Bob Hartley M50 05:56:01
147 Helen Davis W40 06:17:18
162 Chris Walker M40 07:10:40
165 Daniel Horner Msen 07:13:00

Full results on the Fellrunner website

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