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!

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