Daily Archives: 25th October 2019

British Fell Relay Championships (leg 4), Peak District, Saturday, October 19, 2019

Robin Parsons

After a scenic cycle ride from the car park in Brampton a few miles away I was met with a carnival atmosphere on a flat green space flanked by an impressive dam.

Since I was running the last leg I had plenty of time to soak in the atmosphere and to watch runners setting off and arriving through a steep muddy path and up the hill at the edge of the green.  2pm arrived and I decided to warm up and gather in the starting pen nervously watching the woods for the arrival of Nigel and Geoff.  3:20 arrived and since Nigel & Geoff hadn’t yet arrived I joined the mass start for leg 4.  By this time I was feeling pretty relaxed; over an hour hanging round in the pen chatting to Susan Scott had managed to ebb my pre-race nerves away.

A quick dib of the timing chip and off: Following a short steep muddy bank and gentle jog through the woods the course turned eastwards up a long, steep hike over Pike Low, before dropping straight (and very steeply) down the opposite side, closely following a stone wall pretty much right down to start level to cross a stream before ascending again towards Derwent Edge.  The grass tracks quickly gave way to a sea of heather across stunning moorland; with the next mile involving hopping around bouncing over and through the knee deep brush (I still haven’t quite decided the best technique) whilst on a long steady climb.  Through this bit one had to keep a bit of an eye on the overall direction as the yellow flags were easy to lose (no navigation required on my leg).  The heather eventually gave way and the climb levelled off with the next section being quick running over spongy grass tracks with the odd patch of peaty bog mixed in.

A good mile of this terrain followed before the descent commenced, with a gradual downhill at first before crossing through a gap in a stone wall whereby the path steepened to a fun descent through a fields, steepening a bit more as we approached the woods, and then more again for the immensely fun 45° mud slide back down to the green and finish line area.  A quick sprint to the finish line and a very fun, scenic run was over.  My Garmin clocked exactly 5 miles and 375 metres elevation gain; a good first-timer leg and a very enjoyable experience!

British Fell Relay Championships (leg 3 – navigation leg), Peak District, Saturday, October 19, 2019

Nigel Heppell and Nina Mason

Photo Courtesy Beau Dog Photography

From Nigel:


A Navigation leg, run as a pair – Geoff Davies and Nigel Heppell were sent away ahead of the mass start by the combined efforts of Graeme W(leg 1) and James G/Paul E(leg2).The map is only handed to us after we are a few hundred metres into the race and tells us that the course is 11.2km long with 520m ascent through 7 checkpoints.

By the time we return we have recorded 14.7km and 727m … but manage to hold on to 170th place out of 242 teams(Overall, Elvet Men are 18th of 38 teams in the V40 category).

The route we chose comprised trods with loose rocks, interminable gritty uphill tracks, precipitous descents through deep heather; thigh-height stream crossings; ascents so steep you could nibble the bilberries direct from the bush just by leaning forward slightly, headlong downhill charges through tussocky grasses hiding foot-sized holes in the ground;- and then it got harder when we reached the boggy bits! I face-planted a couple of times and felt my life-force draining away more than once.

Pleased to get to the last 1/2mile of steep grass followed by mud into the finish – for the first time I find myself in front of Geoff, and it happens to coincide with the only photo of us –not a true reflection of events at all

Nigel beating Geoff

And from Nina:

A stunning setting and good weather greeted us at the fell relays. I ran the navigation (third) leg with Tricia, and had so much fun (more than is usual in a race, for sure!).

After pacing round the ‘handover’ pen waiting to spot Fiona and Elaine running in from leg 2, we were suddenly off, with a sharp climb up out of the woods, collect the map, and set off uphill to the first checkpoint.

Tricia and I made a good team, sharing the lead running (or clambering!) and discussing and agreeing on the nav. I had my compass out a couple of times just to be sure the hills were in the right place, but as visibility was superb it wasn’t really needed on the day. The terrain was mixed, and together we found plenty of mud, streams, vegetation – and some runnable bits too.

We made pretty decent progress round the course, with the exception of one route choice between checkpoints where we thought direct was the best bet. In hindsight it wasn’t. We could see a trod on the far hillside, but had to find (fight) our way through a couple of hundred yards of dense, tall bracken to reach it. As we didn’t have our machetes this slowed us down a little, though made the day particularly memorable! Crawling under the bracken as the easiest way up a steep hill is a new one for me.

A brilliant experience, sharing a race with the best fell runners in the country, and with strong, supportive Striders’ teams. Great fun running with Tricia. A special mention to Adrian for ‘hanging around’ in a muddy field and supporting all day – rewarded (as was I) with a pub meal and a couple of pints. Very well done to the hosts – Dark Peak – for ending the legs with a hugely entertaining downhill (whether running or spectating!) and for organising an unforgettable day.

Nina and Tricia

Website: https://britishfellrelays2019.org.uk/