Grindleford Gallop 2024 — A Moveable Feast Race Report and Results

By: Paul Johnson

Race Date: 16th March, 2024.

Starting to get the itch to sign up for another marathon but not wanting to commit to the training, I compromised with the Grindleford Gallop. Cake at the aid stations, twenty-one miles mostly on trails in the Peak District, 3,000ft elevation gain, and did I mention cake?  I’ve done lots of trail running, setting out from home at the edge of Sheffield, but not much out in the Peak District proper.  The route took in a lot: Grindleford down through Eyam and Great Longstone to Bakewell, then back past Chatsworth and along Baslow and Froggatt Edges back to Grindleford, and I’d always planned on treating it more as an adventure than a race. This plan only solidified when I also did the Retford Half a mere six days before.

Preparation included a whopping two runs longer than half marathon, including a recce of the end of the course by taking the bus down to Chatsworth and running back.  More effort went into gathering supplies.  This year was the first time full FRA kit was required instead of just recommended, so a trip to Decathlon was called for: compass, whistle, and the cheapest waterproof trousers money can buy.  For snacks, the usual gels and bars to supplement the promised cake but also a flask of coffee (I’m not an addict), and the real treasure: a large tub of salted boiled potatoes for the walks up the steep hills. I’d tested them on the recce run to see if they lived-up to all the hype the ultra-marathoners gave them, and while I don’t think they’re quite olive brine status (even better than pickle juice), they were still divine.  Last minute I had to borrow a map that I never intended to use (GPS on the phone was allowed) after I discovered I needed a white peaks map instead of the dark peaks one I had.

The organisers had sent some ominous warnings about parking, and with a rail replacement service instead of trains the morning of the race we got there plenty early, only for a Marshall to immediately guide us into a spot less than a ten minute walk from the start, where numbers, dibbers, and bag drop were all quickly dealt with. I didn’t observe any kit-checks happening, though I can’t swear that they didn’t.

The weather was better than had been predicted and there were plenty of Striders about, so the extra wait passed quickly: discussions of optimal footwear for the varied terrain (all-around trail shoes), hasty removal of layers and wondering if those just going in vests were foolhardy (no regrets), proudly offering salted potatoes to anyone who looked in my general direction, worrying about the fact the course wasn’t totally marked, borrowing sunscreen (?!) (thanks Giulia!). Everything seemed smooth and well organized.

As the race was about to begin, the more ambitious rushed closer to the front so as to spend less time waiting to get through the squeeze stile in the first kilometer of the race, but as this was an adventure and not a race I was happy to stay in the middle and queue, showing respect for the customs of my adopted country. The course lived-up to my expectations, with plenty of steep climbs to amazing views, some fast descents in the first half and, most importantly, cake at Hassop station (lemon drizzle for me). Sticking to the route was not a problem: other runners were nearly always visible ahead of me, and I only doubted the way once (at Bakewell), but I could just slow slightly and the Dronfield runner behind me knew where he was going.  We wound-up passing each other back and forth a few times and chatting a bit, but he turned down my potatoes on the treacherous climb through the woods out of Bakewell.

The descents this time around were through muddy moors, and my relative lack of long runs showed as I slowed a lot, even once we got to the flat and better trails past Chatsworth.  A final aid station in Baslow (no cake, only jelly babies), and the third steep ascent up onto the edges gave more opportunities to foist my potatoes on other runners.  Other than Striders during the initial wait, exactly one potato piece was accepted.

A trip and close catch along the edge with maybe 6k to go meant I was in no mood to take the final steep and relatively technical descent into Grindleford with any speed at all, and was very grateful to reach the finish in one piece and under my vague four hour goal. Warm soup, fast Striders, and more cake (sponge with sprinkles for me this time) greeted me at the end.

It was everything I’d been promised and more. I hope to run it again next year.

The race was won by Greg Hopkinson (Matlock AC) in 02:31:48 and Jenny Cartmell (HRRC) in 02:59:10. Strider Sarah Thorne was second female.

Striders’ Results

Position Name Age Cat. Gender Time
20 Sarah Thorne Open F 03:01:11
41 Sian Evans Open F 03:14:10
81 Darrel Porter V40 M 03:28:39
88 Paul Hargreaves V40 M 03:30:55
91 Warren Brown V50 M 03:31:12
102 Phil Gregory V40 M 03:38:07
153 Abbie Guerrier Sadler Open F 03:52:14
162 Nick Burns V50 M 03:53:43
180 Paul Johnson V40 M 03:57:48
182 Ben Heller V60 M 03:58:12
187 Giulia Neri V40 F 03:58:43
193 Sally Twigg V40 F 04:01:05
197 Craig Baird V50 M 04:03:04
201 Christopher Brown Open M 04:04:10
206 John Rawlinson V50 M 04:05:06
288 Matt Broadhead V40 M 04:34:57
302 David Bocking V60 M 04:41:16
358 Martin Evans Open M 05:02:00
421 Hannah Wright Open F 06:02:37
474 Lisa Markham Open F 07:48:49

Full Results:

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