words: Andy Baron

After a week of torrential rain, wind and general English Springtime weather I decided against my planned bike ride and opted for a local fell race instead.

Lads Leap race this year was also the Derbyshire Fell Race Championship and at the start line it was clear that there were some very good runners from the traditional Peak District fell running clubs such as Pennine, Buxton, Dark Peak, Glossopdale, Holmfirth and Calder Valley competing for the title.

The race started from the Crowden Camp Site just off the Woodhead Pass and unsurprisingly as with most fell races went up hill from the off, climbing towards a rocky summit called Lads Leap, across a couple of streams and onto open moorland towards Tintwistle Knarr. After falling into the second stream and bashing my shin I had to laugh at my choice of “trail” shoes (more suited to a canal towpath than open moorland).

A few more slips and trips on the way over – one resulting in the peat still present up my nose a few days later – I reached the rocky descent towards the village of Tintwistle in around 15th place.

I descended quite well and then turned straight away to go back up an annoyingly fast runnable steep, winding, old quarry track up the other side of Tintwistle Knarr towards the high moor again. On a long section over open moorland back towards Lads Leap I fell face first into a bog – it was only about two feet deep but deep enough to call it a swim and clean some of the earlier mud off.

Losing several places over the tops to more hardened fell runners I just couldn’t keep my footing on the slippery peat, it was the final descent to the finish, around a mile long of slushy mud that I traversed more of on my backside than my feet and probably lost 10 places on the way down. A quick sprint through the car park to gain one of the places back and a nice bacon butty and brew from the van.  Happy enough with a fun morning out and a time of 1:03 and 29th place in a strong field, all for a bargain £5 entry fee.

Fell running is different to most sports as for environmental reasons it does not actively look for new participants. However  it is a very friendly and in no way exclusive or elitist sport, you just need decent shoes, waterproofs, hat, gloves, compass, whistle and a preparedness to get wet and muddy. I certainly recommend the shorter fell races (AS/AM Category) to anyone looking for a bit of fun and adventure, there are loads in the summer on Sundays and Midweek throughout Lancashire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire. See fellrunner.org.uk for fixtures.