If you would like to submit a review of any race that you actually did ‘enter on the day’ then complete the form at the bottom of this page. I’m also keen to hear from any runner who tried but failed to enter on the day any of the ‘pre-entry preferred’ races advertised on this website. It may help future runners . . .
Bluebell Fell Race, 6/03/2016, submitted by Ciaran
Great little race (7.5k) normally starts at Bluebell Inn, Farnah Green, but as the date clashed with Mother’s Day race HQ was moved to Memorial Hall, Hazelwood. Entry fee £5. For that you get…a time and a position. None of that other crap. Course was roughly the same as in previous years, but as a first-timer I thought I’d just follow the person in front. Worked in theory but the person in front left me for dead once we got to the steep muddy downhill bit and I found that in my gripless Freets I had no purchase AT ALL (this was a personal and rather hazardous experiment on my part, probably not to be repeated until the summer when all the countryside gets nice and dry and hard). Had to hold on to the barbed wire fence for support, and allow the field to stream past. I caught most of them up once we reached the road and the dryer fields below. But the route took us BACK UP the same steep, narrow, stretch of mud, now made slightly more treacherous by the front runners (cleverly shod in fell shoes) hurtling downhill, already on their second lap. So this same stretch was churned 4 times (2 down, 2 up) by the field (of runners). Ascending this on the second lap was (for me) like trying to shin up a greasy pole. I had to laugh!
Lovely day for it though. Bit of snow in the air at the start but this cleared and from the Chevin there were some brilliant views over Belper.
Wirksworth Incline, 17/03/2013, submitted by Ciaran
(Originally written for a now defunct website about running and philosophy)
Man is at his noblest when fighting against and overcoming the laws of nature, and there ain’t no law tougher or more unforgiving than gravity. Just ask the people at NASA.
This morning saw me arrive in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, for Wirksworth Running Club’s annual 4 mile Incline race – which consists of 2 miles up and 2 miles back down. The total climb is approximately 550 feet, but the most testing part is a half-mile section of the High Peak Trail that has a 1 in 10 gradient.
Most days it’s possible when you’re running on the level to give yourself the impression that running is a sort of freedom: your workaday cares seem to fade when you bounce along the road; you can calmly take in the views you miss when you’re hurrying along in a car; you can almost philosophize. But all it usually takes is a slight incline to bring you back down to earth. And the Wirksworth Incline will certainly knock the philosopher out of you for a good half-hour.
In any case, while philosophy is perhaps not best conducted while ascending a 1 in 10, any philosophy that ignores man’s being confined to the low points and dark places by gravity is not going to be able to truly celebrate those times when man (and within this concept I include every woman) has scaled the heights, be they the summit of Everest, the surface of the Moon, or even that pinnacle of intellectual effort the Critique of Pure Reason. You don’t necessarily have to be sitting in a leather armchair, surrounded by books, to express an idea. Actions speak as loud as words, and the refusal to be pinned down by gravity, to instead chase down the summit of a hill, to lift in turn each leg while feeding oxygen to the blood like a grimy engineer feeding coal into a boiler, these express an idea of man’s nobility and greatness.
Personally I love the climb – that’s where I make up a few places by a judicious and well timed swinging of the arms. Coming down is harder. On the decline my legs, which feel like they are running too fast, are never quite running fast enough. If I’m lucky I don’t lose as many places I gained on the climb. Today I was lucky. I lost only one place on the downhill, to a heavy breather whom I couldn’t shake. But right this minute I can’t be sure whether that place was taken from me fair and square or whether I simply gave it away. The ‘nobility and greatness’ I expressed on the uphill was not easily retained on the down. Never mind. I’ll get it and keep it next year.