Grindleford Fell Race
It’s a cool and breezy evening. Somehow the local cricket team have allowed a couple of hundred cars to park on their hallowed turf and the passengers from said cars are part socialising, catching up since their last meet, and part exercising, stretching and generally warming up ahead of the 7.30 start time. Joy Benn’s voice interrupts the friendly hubbub as she welcomes everybody over the loud speakers to the Grindleford Fell Race. Well over 300 people have turned out. I hear it’s a combination of it’s proximity to Sheffield and the unusual river crossing finish that swells the numbers. As a fundraiser for the village it’s a boon. 300+ people paying £4 each. Granted there’s a lot of manpower necessary to marshal the course, organise the car parking, and generally keep things running smoothly, but these jobs are done happily by an army of volunteers, many of whom clearly have fond memories of taking part themselves in the past. There’s a new guy in the village who’s pushing for first local, quite a feat in a population of such strong runners. His name’s Dave and he recently ran the course as a training run and took a fall into Padley Gorge, but still finished in 33 minutes! Suffice to say that he took the crown. Me? Every year I have great intentions to train hard and try to do well. Every year injury gets the better of me. I thought it would be different this time. A few months ago I was fit and looking forward to the race. Then I picked up a calf niggle and had to rest up for 3 weeks to the race. I felt bad from the off. The two laps of the field are hard work as everybody sprints for the narrows of the climb up to Tedgness. It wasn’t until I was part way up the climb that I bumped into a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while and he told me he is going to be a dad that I picked up my pace. Strangely his news gave me a real boost, perhaps proving that fitness is at least partly mental. I hear a disapproving murmur from the 30 or so runners who I passed in the space of as many seconds high on the climb. Local knowledge meant I knew of a parallel track which allowed me to sidestep the walking queue. It finished me off though and at least half of them had passed me by the end of the run! There weren’t even any runners in the river for me to chase down this year so I struggled over the finishing line and was somewhat surprised to hear that I’d topped my previous best time by thirty seconds or so. My brother ran it too. His first race for 17 years. He came in 42nd to my 119th. A fine effort considering he had a cold. Next year I’ll be fitter.