Hebden Bridge Fell Race

Stoodley Pike

I ran the Hebden Bridge Fell Race last night. My first time.

It’s a nice evening race, about 10 kilometres and 1,150 feet of climbing.

I’d done some pretty hard running the previous couple of days, so my legs were tight, I was tired, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d just run out of energy half way round. It’s weird how, as soon as you get going, you forget all these worries.

It was a small field, just 70 people, about a third from our local club, Calder Valley. The race heads out of the park and starts climbing through the woods on a rocky path almost immediately. After getting steeper and steeper it levels off and drops through a field. You then hit a near-vertical grassy bank that you can only climb and clamber up, for a few minutes.

After that you’re on the moor, following a trod and then a track to the London Road bridleway, which you drop down slightly before heading up the Pennine Way route to the summit of Stoodley Pike.

It feels like an intense climb as it’s all pretty fast and runnable, and I was jostling with a few runners all the way up.

Once you’re at the Pike it’s down all the way – you head across the rocky-ish descent from Stoodley, along Dicks Lane (which isn’t actually a lane at all) and then diagonal across the moor. Although it was flagged there were a few route choices here, some taking a trod, other heading across the bogs. It didn’t seem to make much difference – it’s about a kilometre over this bit of moor and it’s just a question of running fast.

You’re getting towards the end now. Next it’s down what is known locally as the mental descent – a few minutes of furious running down a steep, thin track through heather and woods, worn by bike tyres and punctuated by roots.

After a short climb on a rough road it’s back down through some rocky woods, out of the woods and a little dash to the finish.

Great fun. Just the right distance for an evening race. Very runnable. And followed by some quality cakes.

I didn’t feel my best but my result was fine –13th out of 70, in 53.53.

Race details

Approx 10 kilometres

Approx 1,150 feet of ascent

Race HQ: Calder Holmes Park (next to train station), Hebden Bridge

Todmorden Harriers race page

FRA race page (2014)

 

Race results

2014 race results

 

Race route

Image

Race profile

Image

 

 

West Nab Fell Race

 West Nab

Race description

The West Nab Fell race was last run in 2004 and started again in 2014.

It’s basically a tough out and back race with a little twist. After a short bit on a bridleway / road, it joins a thin track with heather and trees either side for a few minutes. Having not set off quickly enough, I found myself stuck behind a few slower runners here – welcome, in a way, but a bit frustrating.

It then heads up a very steep but thankfully short hands-on-knees climb. It goes along and then drops down through a field, along the side of a stream, through the stream (which I fell into when we crossed it), and then up another seriously steep climb. It’s not very far but a bit of a slog.

After that it’s a steady ascent up to the peak of West Nab, mostly across fields and then, after joining the road for about 200 metres,  a rocky climb to the top.

At that point it loops back, and goes straight back down to the finish at bottom. Fortunately,  it cuts out one bit of climbing and descending on the way back, so once you’re going down it’s basically down all the way. It’s a fast descent, very fun, with a nice mix of rocks, fields and heathery-singletrack, before you fully appear at the finish.

I was happy. I started off steady, got stuck behind some slower people at the start, but gradually picked my way through the field. I reached the top of West Nab in about 18th. I expected to lose a few places on the way down, but somehow took a few people on the first rocky descent and then maintained the position to the end.

I ended up 15 out of 90 runners, in 50.42.

To put it in perspective, the current British Fell Running Champion, Simon Bailey, won the race in an incredible 40.01.
Race details

Approx 9.2 kilometres

Approx 450 metres ascent

Race HQ: Meltham CE Primary School HD9 4DA

Flagged course, well marshalled, little chance of getting lost

FRA’s West Nab page

Holmfirth Harrier’s West Nab page

 

Race results

The 2014 results are here

 

Race route

west nab route copy

Race profile

West Nab fell race   Run   Strava copy 2

 

Photos

Pictures from Dave Woodhead are here.

Pictures from Norman Berry here.

 

Five things that inspire me to run

Even if you love to run, sometimes you need a bit of a kick, a push, something to inspire you.

Here are the five things that motivate me to get out running:

The sight of the hills. Driving through the hills, with their tracks, trails, heather, woods, steep climbs and descents, and low lying cloud – it makes you want to just get out and run. If I’m feeling tired of running, just seeing the hills just makes me want to run.

Other runners. It could be reading a book like Richard Askwith’s Feet in the Clouds, seeing from a distance a runner out on the hills, or talking to running pals; other runners inspire me to run.

Great weather. Not just sun, but soft snow, crisp autumn days and long evenings all make me want to stop lazing and enjoy the natural weather.

Strava. Quite specific, but Strava – an app for friends to log, share and compare their running and cycling – is a brilliant motivator. Just seeing how much others are doing makes me realise I can do more.

Watching others be active. Whether it’s sport or action movies, the sight of other people out there, doing something active, makes me want to get off the couch and head to the hills.

Sunday dash

I had a rare Sunday morning run at the weekend.

There were lots of races which club mates were running in, but with only a little time all I could manage was a dash out on to the hills.

I headed out quickly and immediately ran through the woods, with the tree roots and rocks slimy from the morning’s rain and fallen leaves.

I headed up from the woods though some increasingly boggy fields. For the last few weeks they’ve been full of cows angrily protecting their calves. Thankfully today all that was left of them was wet muddy imprints of hooves.

After slogging up a small road for a few minutes, I was finally on the tops, running up a thin trail that wound it’s way around bogs, heather and rock to the summit of High Brown Knoll.

That’s roughly half an hour of climbing and the hardest ascent of the run complete; always a good feeling.

Strangely, I stopped here to chat to another fell runner who, it turned out, lived across the road from me; yet we met at the top of a windy moor. Says a lot about the area.

After that it was down and down: down across the moor on stone, peat and heather: down through a wet field; down a very thin rutted track, with large hidden bricks and bits of pipe; down a really greasy stone track – the kind that makes me nervous – until finally reaching the valley bottom.

From there it’s along a great sheep-clipped grassy hillside that’s more Yorkshire Dales than South Pennines, through bracken; then into the beautiful woods of Hardcastle Craggs, until emerging at Midgeholes.

Not quite ready to head home, only an hour in, I headed up the track from Midgeholes to Heptonstall (a bit of a pull up but easier when you know the run’s nearly over), through the cobbles of the village and then plummeted down Hell Hole Woods, a tiny steep track that drops down into Hebden Bridge.

Good running.

1 hour 20 mins, 13.5K, 458 metres of climbing.

Last week’s training

An odd week last week. Not much regularity which ultimately meant not much training and not much variety.

Monday – nothing
Tuesday – 12K bike ride, 1 hour 30 mins fell run
Wednesday – nothing
Thursday – 1 hour / 13.5K road / trail run
Friday – nothing
Saturday – nothing
Sunday – 1 hour 20 min fell run

See what I mean?