Grin ‘N’ Bear it / 15.9m, 1939ft / Race Report by Richard Campbell
While the bulk of the Rossendale Harriers troops were holding the fort over on North eastern front with a big turn out at the Shepherds Skyline fell race, I went on a solo mission deep behind enemy lines, on the eastern front at Langsett, South Yorkshire. For the 16 mile Grin ’N’ Bear it Fell Race in the Peak District National Park.
Fact of the day & touristy bit for the road fairies! The Peak District is the second most visited National Park in the world after Mount Fuji in Japan.
Without a mega early start and the usual drive up to the lakes to endure Jason Craven’s M6 Farleton Knot Fell Race tourettes. It was just a shorter drive over Woodhead Pass to Langsett Barn. Getting there nice & early for race registration & kit check. While donning my mudclaws, which I used as my weapon of choice, due to previous experience of the soft underfoot running in the peak district, with it’s infamous peat bogs.
The buzz went around that the race was delayed to 1030hrs. Time for one extra kit faff then. Looking around I didn’t recognise many faces but there was plenty of Dark Peak vests knocking about. The weather was dry and windy with the unusually warm temperatures for this time of year.
We made our way over to the start and it looked like, from a distance, that Flava flav was going to be the day’s race starter, but as i got closer I released it was just the Mayor of Sheffield. We got our final race brief & with the tame blow of the whistle the race was under way. With an unusually flat first mile for a fell race we passed through Langsett woods then turned left over a stone bridge onto the first and only true climb of the race. The runnable rocky path climb wound up onto open moor & across Hingcliff Common till the track started running parallel with Mickleden Beck. Along Mickleden Edge & Cut Gate, south west to checkpoint A at Cut Gate End, manned by the excellent Woodhead Mountain rescue. From here onto the exposed edge with the warm winds blowing directly into our faces. Then turning onto Featherbed Moss along the first section of open moor, full of bogs & tussocks. Following the flag markers to the trig at Outer Edge I found myself at checkpoint B, near Cat Clough. Then heading due West along more boggy paths to Harden Moss. By now there was a lack of fellow runners to assist with navigation, but by keeping my eyes peeled on the leaders & learning from their mistakes of sinking up to there knees & sometimes waists, I managed to avoid any serious bog incidents.
Then picking up the small stone cairn at Loftshaw Clough Head and following the indistinct passing the ‘1894’ stone. Over the stile at checkpoint C at Swains Head. I Checked in with the Woodhead Mountain rescue race marshall and turned North. Picked up a small trod on the bank of Far Small Clough which provided smoothing running & kept me out of the rocky stream bed. Over a stile to checkpoint D at Salter’s Brook Bridge. Here I was accompanied by a few local runners from Dark Peak, but as they departed from Salter’s Brook Bridge checkpoint they slowed down & appeared to not be that confident on knowing the route and stuck to my side. What they failed to realise however, was that I didn’t have a clue of the route on this last section of the race either. Luckily, although the field was well & truly spread out, it was a crystal clear day and the land was low and reasonably flat. This ment that I could make out home – Langsett woods. None of the leading pack were visible. So up the old road past the remains of Lady Cross to arrive at Lasche. Then onto open moor again to Checkpoint E at Cabin Hill.
With the Dark Peak limpets sticking with me it was confirmed they weren’t confident of the route even in there own back yard bogs. We then picked up the Grouse butts at Wicken Hill & followed them to Checkpoint F at Upper Hordron Barn. I remembered from the race instructions that this also contained the last food & drink checkpoint, but the refreshments were no where to be seen. Tiredness fueled self doubt and I wasn’t too sure I was at the correct checkpoint. Not to worry, I told myself. I had enough left in the tank.
Continuing along a Landrover track via Hordron & Little Moor on Hordron road to the ford crossing at Long Moor Clough. At this point the Dark Peakers, utilised a bit of local knowledge and made their move. Picking up racing lines during the final few miles of the race. I wasn’t having that. I was determined to stick with them to the finish. Down the final stretch of Hordron Road. Across the ford at Fox Clough & picking up Swinden lane till going through gate after gate, and finally through Langsett woods to the finish.
I even managed to break away from the Dark Peakers on the last flat mile & even put a few minutes on them. This made the finishing time of 2:35:13 & finishing 20th place even sweeter.
Now was the time time get some clean gear on, some warm food and a brew in the gorgeous setting of Langsett Barn itself.
Photos kindly supplied by Accelerate running store in Sheffield.