Wincle Trout Run 2024 report by Laura Rangeley

Jim and Laura holding a fish each

Race date: 8 June 2024

Race distance: 9.5km

Race report by Laura Rangeley

The fun began with the entry form: the first time I’ve been asked to answer “Do you require a finisher’s trout?” alongside my personal details and emergency contact. The use of the word “require” particularly tickled me – I was happy to confirm that I didn’t just want the fish, I NEEDED the fish.

After missing out on a spot last year when I first found out about this race, I’d been looking forward to it for a long time. The fell race forms part of Wincle’s annual village fête, and I bloody love a weird local celebration. This one had almost all the ingredients I’d consider a perfect fête – a WI cake stall, a bouncy castle, a vintage tractor parade, TWO rival Splat the Rat games and a donkey marshalling the car park. It was only missing a “largest vegetable” contest, but this was made up for by not just a Welly Wanging game, but a Welly Wanging game hosted by Emmerdale star and Strictly Come Dancing Champion Kelvin Fletcher. Many of you may indeed be thinking “who’s that?” but Kelvin (unbeknownst to him) holds the somewhat dubious title of being the first poster I ever had on my bedroom wall, from a “Teen Heartthrob: Soap Special” version of Mizz magazine dating from somewhere around the millennium. The other options were Jack Ryder or Adam Rickitt and even at such a tender age I didn’t see the appeal of boys with blonde curtains. Anyway, Kelvin lived next to my bunk bed until Gareth Gates came along in 2002 (lovely Gareth was not supplanted until my now husband Jim came on the scene a couple of years later).

I digress. Once I’d got over being starstruck we watched some small children skip around a maypole, which was very sweet and twee and only slightly cult-y (Jim called it “more MacrameMan than WickerMan”) and listened to the brass band of the local primary school play a rendition of We Will Rock You (does it still count as a brass band when half the trumpets are made of plastic?) before heading over to the start line.

The start time and location of the race had been somewhat vague prior to the event, and they remained so right until the countdown. “Somewhere over there” gestured a marshall, and we all got into formation around 2.45 before being ushered around back and forth a little like a large gaggle of knobbly kneed geese, eventually setting off at about 5 past 3. The Wincle Trout Run is unusual in that the start/finish rotates around the 3 locations in which the fête is held – this year was apparently the easiest, with a downhill finish, but that of course meant a big hill to come somewhere near the beginning! We clattered over a cattle grid, past Wincle Brewery and out of the fête, looping around the car park before being sent up the first hill. Hands-on-knees steep almost immediately, and grass long enough for me to realise I’d forgotten to take a hayfever tablet that day. Two bottlenecks followed, and being right in the middle of the pack I had a few minutes of chilling out and chatting while I waited to clamber over stiles. A mile or so of gently undulating grass fields with plenty of sloppy cow pats to avoid followed, before a descent through some woods took us to the first river crossing of the day. I had to queue again here and wait my turn to reach the rope that would guide us across a shallower section of the River Dane. Those more impatient among us leapt straight in, and most of them promptly fell in proper and turned their run into a duathlon, doggy paddling their way across. Another stinker of a hill followed before a long, arduous, incredibly muddy and root-strewn path through Forest Wood (make your mind up, trees). This bit wasn’t particularly hilly but it was very tough underfoot and going was slow – I felt like I’d been going for HOURS and was somewhat dismayed to glance at my watch and realise I wasn’t even half way round. I briefly considered whether it was worth trying to pass as a Junior as their turn-off point down a wide track looked much more appealing than the thick gorse and multiple stiles I could see on our continued route.

The half way point did eventually come though and it was a real treat – my first experience of the amazing natural phenomenon that is Lud’s Church. It’s not actually a church at all but a moss-lined chasm, so deep and verdant that sunlight can barely penetrate. It was full of somewhat flabbergasted tourists, most of whom were coming the much easier looking way of “down”. I decided taking the climb slowly was the better option anyway as it really was an awesome place to be and I wanted to make the most of it and soak the experience in. Shrouded in mysteries and definitely a good location for luring, apparently it’s haunted by a young woman called Alice who was caught in the crossfire there during the Hundred Years’ War, and was also once the hiding place of Robin Hood. Cool.

Jim Rangeley crossing a river

Once through this magical place, there was a final climb to the top of a ridge and a bit of rock hopping to be done (made harder by an increasing headwind), a few more fields with lovely views and then a descent back towards the fête. Initially steep down some steps before a bit of farm track and more woodland, taking us back to the banks of the River Dane and a second river crossing, this one more spectator-heavy due to its close proximity to the finish line. I got across without incident but managed to fall out of the river up the bank, resulting in muddy hands and a muddy neck (?!). A dash across the field to the finish where I mustered a sprint and overtook a woman I’d been behind for about 2 miles, who deemed me “mean” for doing so. And then, the moment I’d been waiting for… To the victor (participant), the spoils (trout)! Illustriously passed in a small white carrier bag to my filthy mitts, which I rinsed off in the river before holding my well-earned fishy friend aloft.

Overall, a great day out, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The run felt super tough, possibly on account of the mud and/or the fact it was my second run of the day (we’d used the opportunity of being on the other side of the Peaks to do a spot of Parkrun tourism that morning), but it was really inclusive and a fantastic atmosphere. I’d definitely be keen to give each of the three routes a try. You have to be quick though as it sells out almost as quickly as Percy Pud!

The race was won by Simon Harding of Macclesfield Harriers in 44.12, and Kate Davies of Staffordshire Moorlands in 52.47. There were 318 finishers (not everyone received a trout, veggies could select an alternative, which turned out to be a bottle of Wincle Brewery beer!).

Striders results:

P Name Cat Time
85 Jim Rangeley MS 1.01.31
187 Laura Rangeley FS 1.14.32

Full results:

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