Monday, 23 April 2012

Kinder Downfall Fell Race 22/04/12

Sam, David, Matt, Steve and Simon made it over to Hayfield for the Kinder Downfall on Sunday. At ten miles with a couple of thousand feet ascent it was never going to be the easiest trot, especially as conditions were very wet and very claggy for the most part. But as it turned out that only really added to the fun.

Pre-race. Good to go.
Having arrived nice and early there was plenty of time to get set up with the van, registered, changed and warmed up. Although some of us were keener on the warm up than others given the cold wind whistling through the town and the constant drizzle, who preferred to huddle under a tree instead. There was a quick race briefing from race organiser Dave Soles to the assembled 300 runners (always entertaining), and then his young son sent us off on our way, straight into the first ascent through Hayfield itself and past the house where Arthur Lowe was born, for any Dad's Army officionados.

The race consists of a huge climb for pretty much the entire first third of the course, some lovely technical boulder hopping on an undulating edge in the middle third including a crossing of the actual Kinder Downfall itself, then a long attack-worthy descent on tracks and through fields finished with a mile or so of flat riverside path to the playing fields. At least, that's how Simon remembered it from when he last ran it in 2010.

Despite his pre-race protestaions that the climb in the first third was rock hard and that it should be tackled with extreme care, everybody seemed to agree afterwards that the climb was actually probably the easiest part of the day. Once up on the top however it was a different story. Thick mist conspired with thousands of gritstone boulders to make the running very difficult and there were a fair few tumbles, not least of which happened to Steve, leaving him with a pranged hamstring. If it wasn't the boulders catching out the runners, or the mist leading some poor souls off on wayward routes to who knows where, then a couple of peat bogs, particularly just underneath the Sandy Heys trig area, were busily and indiscriminately sucking in feet and shoes. Yes, all in all the top section was tough running.

The long descent begins at around the seven mile mark, and it was a relief (after briefly skating on the flagged section) to let gravity take some of the burden for a while. It's not too long though before even that starts to hurt when you're pushing it hard.

The riverside path is a tough finale to a fast race, but it's worth it to power through that finish funnel in the playing field and take the applause. And then the first job is to get into the river and soak those overheating legs!

Simon        15th        1:18:35
Sam           58th        1:27:27
David        101st       1:34:08
Matt          175th      1:43:54
Steve         201st      1:46:17

Everybody finished strongly, everybody really enjoyed the course. There were a few 'Where do I sign up for next year?' type comments. There was some good banter in the field before heading back to the van, changing and then walking over to the scout hut for a cuppa. The courgette cake was a revelation, but the prizegiving didn't seem to be starting up and we were on a bit of a tight schedule, so after a short while five weary Plodders got back in the van and headed back over the hills to Sheffield, very pleased with the day's efforts.

And of course, we then retired to the Greystones for a spot of light refreshment.

Thanks to all.

*More photos to follow soon*