8 Striders entered the Maw of the mighty Wolf’s Pit Fell Race in the beautiful Hope Valley.
Although the idea of a Fell Race sounds quite gnarly, they can be hugely enjoyable for all abilities, although beginners may want to think about entering a shorter race and exercise a certain amount of caution on technical terrain until they feel more confident. The Wolf’s Pit is a good one to try out and, of course, the outruns would help get used to running over non-flat surfaces.
The starting marquee was placed in a cool field free of any bovines, but full of expectant runners hopping around keeping warm, tying laces, filling the registration forms and huddling together. A few runners had their names called for the spot-check inspection of kit which comprised of the following:
Full Body Cover must be carried by all competitors; waterproof cagoule with hood, full length waterproof bottoms,
Map of the course,
How some racers fit this all into a small bum bag defies the laws of physics, but is acheivable with a certain amount of cash. Most of us carry some sort of running bag/vest to carry this in. As this kit is a minimum, I often carry a couple of extras, like an extra base layer stuffed into a plastic sandwich bag along with a buff, just in case I find myself stranded at the top of a big hill.
So, at this point I’ve donned my Salamon Speedcross, while others opt for Innov8s, La Sportiva’s, or looking around even Walshes, which are a serously meaty, yet retro looking shoe. A good grippy shoe is essential to be able to move about confidently. Then to the start, where I place myself somewhere towards the back, not really knowing where I fit into the pecking order.
The start is frantic with a slight decent down to the corner of the field into the road. We find ourselve dancing through an ankle deep ford, not really know how the soles will handle the slightly slimey surface beneath the water. A guy slips in front of me, but springs up and carries on. A couple of turns later and the climb begins.
The first climb takes the racers up to the top of a hill with a mast on. It is steep. There are some who manage to run up the whole thing and soon runners are strewn out like an elastic band under tension. As we reach the top by the mast, I realise that elastic band has snapped into small pieces. Groups of runners find themselves at similar paces and chase each other across the top of the hill winding, twisting and crossing over their chosen groove in the trail. Picking one line over another can mean a quicker, but more technical overtake. This reminds me of swoopy mountain bike trails with slight berms and rises, hiding the place where you may choose to land on the other side. Often, it’s better to take extra steps, keeping balance and centre of gravity close to one’s self, rather than taking a leap of faith over a rock or knoll.
A technical off-camber decent favours some runners over others. I see Katie who is looking very fresh and says a cheery hello. A little more undulation and criss-crossing trails and soon we’re turning back towards the mast. The camber is unforgiving, so the ankles are really working hard. Then eventually we hit the top of the main descent. This is furiously fast and yet the ground seems to be fairly forgiving, in the fact there aren’t too many ruts and the grass has been trimmed, by sheep or man I don’t know. It means the racers can see where their feet are. I clock sub four minute pace – so that’s how Roger felt! All too soon it’s back to the road and through the ford.
I find that I possibly went too hard on the descent and stagger up the field. ‘Hello Clive’! In a familiar cheery fashion. It’s Katie! How did she catch me after that furious descent? Katie is handy! Okay, now to hold on to the finish. I see Greg and Mick enjoying a soup or tea or something looking like they’ve been back for hours.
We cheer in the rest of the gang and say hello to other folk.
If you fancy a Fell Race, speak to one of these. Lift sharing is a good idea and there’s normally a pub lunch involved if the time is good.
119 61 Greg Pettingell M V50 Basic Stilton Striders 0:56:00
131 96 Michael Atton M V40 Basic Stilton Striders 0:57:10
162 63 Katie Hateley F V40 Basic Stilton Striders 1:00:06
164 200 Clive Kent M Open Basic Stilton Striders 1:00:15
188 62 Simon Botrill M V40 Basic Stilton Striders 1:01:42
229 113 John Houghton M V50 Basic Stilton Striders 1:04:41
285 145 Dan Valencia M V40 Basic Stilton Striders 1:12:55
334 199 Jennifer Kent F Open Basic Stilton Striders 1:29:31