Wirksworth Incline fell race 2024

Race date: Sun 14 April 2024

6.9m / 400m ascent, category AS

The Wirksworth Incline is a great little fell race that starts steep, gets steeper and leaves you gasping to get your breath back as you round the trig at the top. As it’s a short race, there’s no time to recover on the descent as, before you know it, you’re hurtling back down the titular incline to the finish. It’s a glorious little brute.

A tough climb to start things off

The first quarter of a mile takes you from the start in an industrial estate up a steep and sometimes narrow rocky path to the National Stone Centre. At this point a hairpin bend leads you onto a short flat section as you join the high peak trail. Just as the legs are adjusting to be able run properly again you hit the incline: a 630m dead straight stretch of path that rises 80m at a pretty consistent gradient of around 12%. Senior runners go straight on at the top, while the juniors round a marshal and plunge straight back down the way they came to the finish.

Juniors get to descend while seniors have to keep going up!

The race then winds its way across a few fields up the trig point. It’s nowhere near as steep at this point, but never really flat enough to recover your breathing properly. Despite the recent heavy rain, it was a lovely sunny day and there were hardly any properly muddy patches. If I do it again, I’d be tempted to wear road shoes, especially following a dry spell. From the trig it’s pretty much downhill for just over 2 miles, firstly across more fields, then back on the gravel trail to loop around to the top of incline. For this part I was concentrating on my downhill form, trying to maximise cadence, as it’s a definite weakness in my fell running. I traded places with a couple of others for a mile or so, but once we hit the decent of the incline, I started losing places as usual – despite plummeting down at about 4:30 mile pace at one point! I even got pipped for an additional place on the line, to the derision of the family watching me come in.

Just starting the descent of the incline. on the way back

As mentioned above, the event also includes a junior (11-14) and children’s (6-10) race, a great addition that allows youngsters the chance to try proper hill racing. It’s a great little event that hopefully more Striders will take on in future years.

The senior race was won by Harry Holmes (Matlock AC) for the fourth time in 24:16 – just missing his own course record. First female – and 6th overall – was Sara Willhoit (Mercia Fell Runners) in 26:22. Sara’s time was a new female course record. There were 172 finishers.

The race was the third counter in the 2024 Striders Fell Race Championship.

Striders results:

Pos Name Cat Time
20 Louis Wood MV40 28:45
36 Ben Baxendale MV40 31:34

Full results via Webscorer 

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