21 Oct 2016 – Yorkshire Three Peaks Ultra

It was 8am on a bright and clear day at Hawes (Wensleydale Cheese land) where myself and 17 fellow runners headed out on the first Yorkshire Three Peaks Ultra Marathon organised by Ranger Ultras. The race consists of the Yorkshire Three Peaks sandwiched by two very boggy Fells with a total of 70km and 3200mt of ascent.

The runners took a natural split into two groups and after our first checkpoint I fell into a great pace with a fellow runner who helped me giggle and chat throughout the rest of the race. Each Peak- Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent- all varied in its terrain which added to the challenge of the race. We were blessed with a beautifully clear day which provided us all with stunning views and helped ease any niggles that showed themselves.

The support throughout the day was faultless with food, drinks and giggles a plenty. On the final leg we were presented with a stunning sunset over the Dales. The last boggy fell leading back to the village of Hawes was via head torch, even my shadow was running in a hobbling manner at this point, but the warm welcome and sense of achievement made me realise once again how much I love the world of running.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Ultra has to be my toughest running challenge to date I would highly recommend it for the stunning views and support.  [Katie]

8 Oct 2016 – Curbar Commotion

“What’s all this commotion about !? 10 miles 450 metres of ascent, fell and moor, gritstone and peat, flapjack and two pints of Chatsworth Gold. Curbar Commotion 2016, we b*****y love the peaks”
John Houghton – 2016

Truly an epic day for John Houghton, Lou Houghton, Stuart Shaw, Clive Kent, Simon Bottrill and Katie Hateley, inspired by the fells over the village of Curbar, a small, but busy hamlet sat on the river Derwent in the Peak District. A snip at £6 on the day, the race was well organised with plenty of marshalls, a spirited Master of Ceremonies and tea or coffee on tap, if required.

The weather is beautiful and the runners gathered behind the start near to the school where the race funds go towards sports facilities so that future generations can find their own feet on the road of sport and confidence. A surprising move of the crowd mean that the race has started. Runners begin to surge, gradually finding their pace before the first left into the short ascent of tarmac, where they can warm up their climbing legs. Then a queue for the stile, which serves as a gateway for the trails over the fells.

A steady climb takes the runners onto a trail through some trees. It’s a choice to run near, or slightly further behind runners ahead in order to spot rocks, slippery roots, or shoe squelching mud bowls. These mud bowls aren’t deep enough to suck shoes today, but they take more effort to move through as the feet slip just enough to steal a small amount of forward momentum.

A slight right takes the course up a steep climb. The trail gets slightly tougher as runners pick through small rocks, lifting their knees to hop up small grassy steps and over rocks, all the while scanning the trail for the next obstacle. Turn right past the marshalls; we are happy to receive a bit of respite after this short sharp section with an craggy undulating flat. Decisions; do we stretch out on this easier bit or conserve ourselves for the summit ascent about 900 metres ahead? So different strategies occur as the fell-runners tit-for-tat each other on different sections. Some show their prowess on the climbs, while others launch past you on slight ramps down.
Once over the summit, it’s a flying descent of 1.5 miles. Feet fly and runners criss-cross the trails as they pick their preferred racing line through, round, or over the main feature of these fells; gritstone. It’s lovely stuff, grippy, yet forgiving with it’s weathered rounded corners. There are a few loose fist-sized rocks to tippy-toe, but these sit nicely in the middle of eroded paths and are easy to run beside.

Another up, then a good mile of descent. The springy gates test trail etiquette. How far should a runner be behind you that you don’t need to hold the springy trap-gate open for them?
False summit? Another climb! 0.8 miles really gets the heart ticking. But at this point the racers know the end is not far, so we can choose to keep the effort high before the steep descent to the finish where the marshalls pen our numbers down for the results.

What does the conscientous runner need at the end of a good race? Cake – good cake and tea or coffee. And it’s here where we share our tales of the fell.
A slight change in course from previous years took the final mileage up to 9.7(ish) miles. In some conditions, that sounds like a daunting prospect, but with eyes on the obstacles of the fell ahead, it felt much less; more like a jaunt down the lane. The miles fly by like the gritstone under the soles of the Stilton Striders.

Results: Stuart Shaw – 35th 1:14:57, Clive Kent – 87th 1:25:00, Katie Hateley – 98th 1:26:18, John Houghton – 111th 1:28:54, Simon Bottrill – 129th 1:32:03, Lou Houghton – 184th 1:45:03

21 Aug 2016 – Rugby Rover 30k

Great turnout from Stilton Striders on this highly recommended 18.6 mile multi-terrain race now in its 14th year. Although sometimes billed as a fell race there is far too much road to be treated as so, it`s maybe nearest to either Seagrave or Woodhouse Mayday in feel so do check it out if not going to Ireland or Racing the train this time next year.Sadly numbers for the race are down again this year, we must have been the most heaviest represented club, too many Derbyshire clubs simply not there supporting this event (A mere £15 on the day plus tech T-shirt or £13 in advance). We start at 9:30am with Stuart Shaw well out ahead for the Striders team, most of us started quite near the back for the opening mile or so along the canal. From the flat start those of us who have done it before know it very suddenly turns into a very steep uphill fell, last year Luke who is running with me ended up walking this, not this year, made it look positively easy! This first major uphill is great for getting the lungs working whilst wondering if your legs ever will again, I feel pretty groggy this morning but more of that later.

We reach the water station at about 8k, I recall last year roping in `Mr Positive split` Luke at about this distance, to be fair I think this year if he gave me 8k head start he`d have caught me on current form! Another big uphill and Luke is flying although he still decides it’s better to run with me than shoot off, we then head for the 10 mile point over many fields towards the radio mast at Alderwasley. Then we head towards the rather fine pub at Alderwasley and perhaps my favourite part of the route, unfortunately my legs aren’t feeling it today, a little lacking in sleep and worst of all stomach problems are starting to happen. I eventually nudge young Luke on who goes on to have a really good and comfortable race as I start to suffer going through Ambergate woods and slow noticeably. Coming out the other side I even am forced to walk due to how my stomach feels, new medication I’m on seemed to be the longer standing problem but at the time it was hell. All I want to do now is get over the finish line and the long three miles back seems a lot further, it wasn’t impressive by any means as 9 mins slower than last year but even then it certainly is and always will be a tough old course.

I thought I had it bad until I learned the fate of Dan Valencia who didn’t read the signs in the last half mile and ended up doing 20.6 miles and came back rather annoyed! Stuart Shaw was back first Strider, despite setting off too fast, it is a hard one to judge if you haven’t done this before where all the bumps are and tiring bits.

Was a tad warm today although the rain in days previous had left it softer (muddier!) underfoot than usual, despite the problems we all had a great day. [Rob]

Stuart Shaw (2:31:38, 22nd), Luke Eggleston (2:38:55, 35th), Rob Beers (2:47:39, 52nd), Paul Geeson (2:48:53, 54th), Simon Bottrill (3:04:24, 81st) John Houghton (3:08:08, 93rd), Matt White (3:11:01, 109th) Dan Valencia (3:26:35, 121st)

10 Jul 2016 – Great Hucklow Fell Race

My third time running this awesome 6.2 mile with 1125ft of ascent Gritstone series Fell race, rather a personal fave, it does have something of everything and a lot of fun. I had hoped to get a few more of us by pointing out that the mere £5.00 entry on the day is better than the £60 plus that many people will happily part with to adventure races. However we did get 7 Stilton Striders myself, Dan Valencia, John Houghton, Luke Eggleston, Steve Dewick, Stuart Shaw and Katie Hateley plus Leics locals Dave Lodwick from Roadhoggs and Haydn Williams from Barrow.

Even though rainfall has been heavy it`s still very muggy and will be wet under foot regardless, there is an absolute swarm of flies around the village, thankfully didn’t eat one today. Luke and Stuart have taken higher places up the start line, the race starts with a quick run through the village before heading offroad with a couple of downhill fields. This is followed by a very steep descent (aka drop) and rocky track before the long pull uphill and getting my feet wet for the first time. It`s not a too tough uphill but I’m stuck in my lines and can see Luke and Stuart pushing on, trying to manoeuvre forward would be a huge waste of energy I’d need later so I have to bide my time.

The highest point comes early on before a marshy downhill, a poll across the moors, a second peak and a long downhill to the only bit of road on the course. After two `shiny` races last week I overtake six people before we hit the offroad again, the following section I never told Luke about or he wouldn’t have come! You hit a wooded valley that is a really good slalom, its muddy, often cantered footpath, trees and branches come out of nowhere, footing is precarious, oh its superb but you really have to be on it!

You then come out in Griezedale valley which means readjusting your legs to the hills again and the sun is now out and beating down, I see Luke and Stuart who are still going superbly 30 seconds ahead but any thoughts of catching them are lost when I follow someone on the wrong path and end up surrounded by nettles! On the right path still going strong there is the really big uphill pull out of the valley before one large down and up and just the downhill through the woodland to finish.

Well I beat last year’s time so going right, didn’t catch Luke and Stuart who both ran superbly – Stuart`s first and definitely not last fell race, Luke who has now ran 3 superb races this week. The rest of the team come in and we partake of the awesome homemade flapjacks and those locally sourced Hucklow bananas (where do they grow them? Superb!). Steve Dewick ran a little slower than usual when a branch caught his glasses and flung them nearby which enforced a Thelma from Scooby-Doo type search!

Yonderman cafe after for the best chip cob in the peaks followed by a trip across the road to the Three Stags at Wardlow Mires, the saltiest pub in the Peak, absolutely awesome day – please join us people next time, we`d love to have you with us!

Stuart Shaw (34th, 58:45) Luke Egglestone (38th,58:55) Rob Beers (45th, 1:00:28) Katie Hateley (84th, 1:06:39) John Houghton (92nd, 1:08:22) Dan Valencia (98th,1:09:17) and Steve Dewick (148th, 1:29:41) [Rob]

12 Jun 2016 – Edale fell race

Family commitments mean only three of us here today at Edale for race 3 of `3 in 3`, Rob Beers (Me), Katie Hateley with an ultra in her legs from yesterday and Matt Chalmers.

We all have absolutely shot legs and the warm up seems impossible let alone a 5 mile fell race, its a mere £5.00 entry which includes parking and the absolutely superb Village show. Despite the spots of rain we are cheerful near the start with the words `training run` and `bit of fun` mentioned numerous times as we view the sheer uphill path which starts the race to the ridge.

A good field of runners as we head off up `the Nab` and around `Ringing Rodger`, I try as much as possible to keep running but its heavy traffic and get irked at having to walk. I am following the Dark Peak girl I beat on the line at Castleton Friday night, she`s a tough runner throwing a lot into it. Suprisingly now my legs don’t feel bad and I`m making decent progress and passing quite a few people over the often quite scary and technical edges.

First wrong going of the day begins when we have the chance to go one of two ways along the edge or more through the middle, this quarter mile section I choose wrongly and must’ve lost about 8 places by hugging the edges.

I make the final hard ascent to the top and drop down what can only be described as `a fall`, it’s that steep thankfully its heather and some opt to slide down via the bottom! The descent then goes on to some very rocky scree track which again I’m not good at descending like an 100 year old man in Stiletto heels. So when the option again goes to descend via grass I follow a Steel City Strider along a trail path only to come out at the drop of doom! I’ve never descended off anything so steep and thank goodness I have both strong ankles and balance but it’s playing hell with my quads. When I resume to the normal path I must’ve lost 15 places with my awful descent and my quads have limited my speed temporarily, back on the flat it’s down an alley and the last half mile to the finish. Its hear like a `secret shiny` I sort of redeem myself by knocking a 5m/m to the finish line, overtaking a whole lot of people and as usual collapsing in a heap over the finish line.

Despite by the time Matt coming in the rain just bucketing down we got changed and enjoyed the great English traditional festival at Edale, it really is a corker. My second Edale fell race and I hope very much next year is my third, great hard technical fell race that feels a lot longer than it is.

Rob Beers (94th, 50:02) , Katie Hateley (145th, 55:12), Matt Chalmers ((189th, 1:00:29) Steve Dewick (210th, 1:06:45)

10 Jun 2016 – Castleton Fell Race

We are here in wet and humid Castleton on day 1 of the `3 races in 3 days series`, tonight’s effort is a 6.7 mile fell race. We are tonight Rob Beers (Me), John Houghton, Dan Valencia, Steve Dewick, Greg Pettingill, Dan Valencia, `Fell Virgin` Matt Chalmers and staying with us this evening Barrow Runner Haydn Williams who is also doing the Edale Skyline tomorrow. So despite multiple traffic jams and forgotten Bra`s (!) we get to Castleton in time, I`m in retro kit this evening and quite un-ironed it looks actually thought the rain might increase it but everyone seems to notice.

Set off as usual with Greg in my sights for the first half mile of tarmac, I`m watching the old warhorse slide up the pack whilst I get stuck behind some of the pointiest elbows this end of the Western Roman Empire. I finally get past Greg on the ascent towards Lose Hill, I have it in my head that I can stay ahead of him on the climbs at least and hopefully put some distance. Not far off the top of Lose Hill `Captain Cautious` is passed by a flying Pettingill on the descent and it’s a game of catch up as he`s looking strong and I’m still pattering on behind.

What actually happened next is I was running and Greg was getting nearer it wasn’t tactical, anyway I go past him going up Mam Tor fully expecting him to leave me standing on the descent. For non Fell people watching the leaders come off Mam Tor over Flagstones, Grass, Mud and rocky ground is something really to behold, there is some amazing nerve and skill there. I circle the trig point and start my descent, the guy just in front has taken a great line and I follow him as its mainly grass which I’m not too bad on seeing an impressive Simon Bottrill and the others on the way down the Tor shouting my best wishes.

We descend more sharply at the turn down at Hollins Cross, it’s a lot steeper and I lose quite a few places to local runners used to such rocky terrain, somehow I`m still in front of Gregmeister. Once I hit the road I feel safe in my abilities and power on to the finish even taking a Dark Peak shirt in a sprint on the line!

Lovely evening out and first fell race of the Peak district this year for a few of us, Chalmers came home ecstatic saying we were absolute nutters but loved it and was truly amazing!

Results – Rob Beers (95th, 59:07) Greg Pettingill (103rd, 59:32) Simon Bottrill (119th, 62:01) Dan Valencia (145th, 65:11) John Houghton (156th, 66:19) Matt Chalmers (211th, 76:04) and Steve Dewick (224th, 81:20)

12 Mar 2016 – Grindleford Gallop

I had a guy from Barrow Runners go on about this for years hence I had to give it a go, this year’s event sold out in a mere eleven minutes! Originally three Stiltons made the cut but injury meant just myself (Rob Beers) and stand in par-Excellence Dan Valencia would make it to the start line.

Very few Leicestershire clubs on show at this event of around 600 people, we meet up with Zoe Sewter from Hermitage and local legend Tim Hartley who not only hadn’t realised the event was today but hadn’t raced this distance for about 14 years!

We start mid-pack I must admit to not feeling up to it and `training run` being imprinted, in any case it was a reccie for both of us as not knowing really what to expect in 21 miles and 3000ft apart from pain. The first mile towards Froggat woods is incredibly slow with stiles and the usual bottleneck hold ups, people jumping the mud and puddles (surely? It’s an offroad race you know what to expect?). The first big hill comes and whilst I persist up it Dan has plumped for another technique (!) , we head towards the village of Eyam.

Bit too much road at the beginning but Longstone edge is plenty muddy, it’s all those high walls and stiles you have to climb that really play on the agility. Great Longstone leads us towards Bakewell and a long stretch of trail that is far too easy to just hammer and lose a lot of steam (Dan!) as at the end of which is a huge climb with some sort of cowbell at the Hill bottom!

The descent towards Chatsworth estate is one of the most scenic I find, I’m enjoying the downhill, I don’t enjoy the agility of dodging people from here to the end of the race as the weather is getting a lot better and they are coming out the cracks. We hit the village of Baslow at 17 miles and I am somewhat battered (Tim H said he suffered from here also), I’ve tried to conserve energy and definitely another gel or two wouldn’t have gone amiss. Anyway it’s the biggest climb of the lot up to Baslow edge, not knowing the course or how long I’ll be climbing the odd cheeky walk finds its way into my shattered legs as I hope saving them will help with the technical section on the edges. The top eventually came and the technical section began, testing ones agility against not only stones and mud but walkers, Dogs etc on tired legs was very hard work and by the time we came to the woods near the end of Baslow edge I felt really tired and no energy left. The final descent into Grindleford would’ve been done better by a Dalek down a flight of stairs; wearily I tread downhill through the village over the bridge and over the finish line. Thankfully getting inside to a hot cuppa, a bowl of soup and a cake can do wonders for rousing a flagging energy level!

Despite the pain, the uphill and everything it’s a superb well organised event showing off some of the best of the Peak district, both myself and a just as tired Dan Valencia loved it. This year was very much a reccie and we hope to return next year a bit wiser of where to go quick and where to lay off a bit, great day for the offroad runner.  [Rob]

7 Feb 2016 – Charnwood Hills Race

This year’s CHR sold out in some 25 mins, the 350-odd places snapped up so quick the website almost crashed. One of only two fell races in Leicestershire this race has now become one of the most popular and oversubscribed, given how many Leicestershire athletes we see on the actual fells (apart from Stilton of course and a few exceptions!) perhaps previous entry in a set number of FRA races over the previous 12 months would be a good race pre-requisite? Given that near 700 ran the Bradgate Derby runner league race and only 300-350 allowed here it may be a way for the race to move forward as a CL Fell race not just an extended XC.

Anyway CHR 2016, a mere three Striders this year with colds and flu depriving us late on of two Stilton entrants, it’s Rob Beers and Greg Pettingill out there suffering with heavy colds and Katie Hateley swearing she`s done no training. Not thankfully overly cold but a cold wind and quite a breeze, a few spots of rain in the sky but it has rained heavily the few days before and the mud is very plentiful.

The usual start off around the field with many people going off as usual with a far too positive split and an early faller who got tangled up in Mr Pettingill`s legs! The Greg-meister has made an impressive start and I’m towing him as we head into Bradgate Park and the looming Old John in the distance, at least I`m comforted by the fact he didn’t run all of that said hill. Yours truly does and then it’s the usual job of getting the breathing back to normal on the descent and down a very muddy cardiac hill into the (Bloody) golf course. Sue Pettingill is playing lead Stilton cheerleader today at Broombriggs and ahead of me is Greg climbing (walking!) upper broombriggs, I finally feel I’m gaining on the veteran warrior a little although I throw far too much into my descent towards Beacon Hill. Never my favourite climb the Beacon but for once no-one over takes me, a nice downhill off the Beacon where I sensibly go past Greg who is at the time suffering somewhat (you wouldn’t have thought given how effortlessly he was running).

Into the (Bloody) golf course and Cardiac Hill is a mud rink, back into Bradgate Park and by now I`m feeling not having a gel or water as by the technical section by Lady Jane Grey`s house my feet have the agility of your average Ogre. The last two miles I felt I lost 2-3 mins and the pace slowed greatly for me, I looked behind to see Greg climbing the long slow path towards the school thinking he had no way of catching me. Anyway a `Bottrill-esque` finish saw him take me in the last 100 metres followed by my climbing into the final field like it was Everest!

Greg Pettingill (73rd, 1:59:27), Rob Beers (77th, 2:00:09) and Katie Hateley a superb debut (131st, 2:11:14), felt like a letdown in the end (elusive sub 2hrs!) but given we were full of cold and results of similar runners I reckon team Stilton did very impressively.

And again thanks to the Blue Lion at Thrussington for their impressive Chip Cobs!  [Rob]

1 Nov 2015 – Dovedale Dash

It was a beautiful day in Derbyshire for this year’s Dovedale Dash a ridiculously popular event with some 1274 runners lining up at the start of this years 5 mile course. From the off it’s a mad downhill dash that takes you through the river Dove, loops round for 4 miles of muddy cross country and then brings you back for a lung bursting climb to the finish line. Two Striders made the journey Simon Bottrill home in 38:45 and Tony Allen who sadly had to pull up due to injury. Also competing was Nick Smith home in 41:44 running for his first claim club Stamford Striders. [Simon]

17 Oct 2015 – Wirksworth Undulator

The Wirksworth Undulator AKA: `The Stuart Learmouth memorial race` is an annual 8.5 mile Fell race put on by Wirksworth R.C now in its fourth year. Having done this twice before I know what to expect, with a mere £5.00 entry and massive kudos to Simon to get us here in a mere hour!

Today we are Six Stiltons (Myself [Rob Beers], Simon Bottrill, John Houghton, Dan Valencia, Katie Hateley and Steve Dewick. Worth pointing out that this is the only fell race I’ve ever seen a Leicestershire Club runner win (a Barrow runner) yet today we are the only Leicestershire club to have any entrants on the start line!

Starting from Wirksworth quarry, it’s a bit of a jam from the off on the narrow path to the top of the quarry, those really going for it will be on the front row. The course is like its title, undulating, `lots of ups and too little downs` was one Strider`s comment, although cliché I found it `all Run-able`, I know not all the team did.

The first few miles over many fields with various ups and downs, before hitting the trig point and just over half mile on tinder trail before my favourite climb which gives an astonishing view over Carsington Water. A real steep descent the other side where many end up on their backsides before nearly a mile of road which isn’t good if you’ve heavy duty Fell shoes on. The next turning offroad is probably when many really start to struggle going from tarmac back to struggling uphill offroad for another two miles. My plan of challenging a Tideswell R.C runner and trying to catch as many Beeston R.C Runners (also out in force) has paid off well, although my descent through the quarry to the finish was pretty bad.

Back in a very good time I think and 1st Strider, A very shiny face Dan Valencia is next Strider home followed by a more calm looking Simon. Katie doing her first fell race isn’t far behind, an ecstatic John comes in to a rendition of Happy Birthday and then Steve Dewick complete the Striders team.

I think Katie summed it up best about these events `everyone’s just so friendly and laid back`, John `best one yet, loved it! `, totally excellent event and a great day all round.  [Rob]