Tideswell Fell Race 2016

Photo: Tideswell Fell Race Website.

The evening of June 24th saw the 2016 Tideswell Fell Race. The race takes place at Tideswell Dale. This year, 85 runners took part, which is a good turnout.  I think there were a few more than last year.

Rain threatened to make the fell race a cold and wet affair.  Dark clouds hovered overhead and they unloaded a cache of large hailstones.  Luckily the skies cleared and blue skies soon replaced the dark clouds.


Tideswell Fell Race is a nice run with a really tough climb quite early on.


The race organisers always use the money raised to aid a local cause or charity. This year the money raised was to go to rebuilding Tideswell Youth Club, which tragically burnt down last year.

Will & Glen…enjoying the rainbow.

There were a few runners from Tideswell Running Club taking part. Myself, Will Brindley, Glenn Cropper, Pete Walliss, Louise Handley and Paul Weir.

The Race Begins

The race tends to start at a cracking pace, plunging down the track from the bassalt quarry and into the dale. Run down Tideswell Dale and into Litton Mill.

Turning right over the river bridge and up the windy path to the Monsal Trail. Straight over and up the steep steps at the side of the old packhorse bridge that crosses the old railway line.

Then a steep, steep climb to the top. It all depends on how you approach this bit. It can be pleasant if a breeze is blowing, or it can a few minutes of hot, quadbusting hell.

When you hit the top, you will find your legs again and begin to run. Onto the hard farm track and down the bank before turning up to the cottage on the crest of the hill.

As soon as you hit the downhill,  You can increase the speed. Buy vary to save some energy for the tarmac and the race back up Tideswell Dale.

The descent plunges down a green hillside and then into a small wood.  The path is muddy and rocky. It ends with a long set of steep steps, which are lethal when wet. The steps seem to go on forever and are very steep.

The Tar Stretch

Over the bridge at the bottom and you hit tar. If there is a time to reel a few people in, this is it. Catch them up and push for home as soon as you hit the bottom gates of Ravens Tor Youth Hostel,

The ascent backup Tideswell Dale is a long, drag especially when you’ve just done the best part of a fell race. Disengage the brain and power through it, do not think. Or you’ll end up grabbing a breather.

Pressed hard on the final stretch going through the gate just before the quarry.  Not far now.

Nothing left to do now but finish strongly.

Glen Cropper - TRC
Glen the first TRC finisher


Petes comes in Strong


Will Brindley
Will Brindley


Colette at the finish. Photo: Andy Watkins


Phil in his sprint finish Photo: Jo Shimwell

Some great running from team TRC this year. Well done everyone.

Related Links:

Facebook: Tideswell Fell Race
Phils Blog: My Tideswell Fell Race 2015
My Tideswell Fell Race 2016

Testing Times – Lactate Testing

Testing Times

Pete Hawkins undergoes testing
Photo: Dave Tune

Technology and running for most of us go hand-in-hand, with our phones strapped to our arms or some form of GPS watch on our wrist.  I’m sure I’m not unique in my cool-down session usually comprising half an hour poring over my Strava stats.  It wasn’t until I started to follow an intermediate half marathon training programme I’d downloaded from Garmin that I began to question myself as to why.   In the three years I’d been running, I hadn’t improved on my 10K PB I’d achieved in early 2013.  Either tempus was fugiting (Tempus fugit) rather quicker or my training was all wrong.  And all this tech was actually proving to be worthless.

So one afternoon, whilst Sue J was ripping a muscle in two, I asked through gritted teeth about Blizzard Physiotherapy and Dave Tune.  Nigel having been to see Dave before, Sue’s enthusiasm was enough, I went home and booked a Blood Lactate Test with Dave, a former GB International.

Treading carefully

The day arrived and I set off for Dave’s clinic near Bawtry.  Expecting to get straight onto the treadmill, I was somewhat surprised that I had an hour to wait for the torture to begin.  The first hour was spent by Dave trying to prise out of my brain just why I ran, what I thought I could achieve and a little about my pure, non-hedonistic lifestyle. (Dave sends out a form to fill in prior to the session which includes a section on diet.  I was honest..  although the three days worth of food I’d eaten prior was totally atypical to my usual relatively good one….  Dave’s advice here was to eat better!  Such is honesty

So the torture began with a few basic measurements, height, weight, stretchability (I failed by reaching 15cm which is zero on Dave’s Stretchability Scale!) and lung function (here I passed with flying colours notching up a “best I’ve ever seen in three years of doing these tests” comment!)

And then the treadmill.  The plan was to start slowly and every three minutes to take a small blood sample from the thumb and then up the speed to the next level.  Off we set, casually chatting about this, that and the other, as Dave vampired my thumb and he upped the speed.  Soon the chatting became more one-sided as I concentrated on staying on the treadmill and breathing; I’ve never been too good at multi-tasking.

With shouts of encouragement, I saw the test through to the bitter end, and fell off the treadmill to be sent for a shower and a cuppa, before Dave gave me the preliminary results. With words of encouragement – I bet he says that to everyone – he went through the results and what they meant.  Confirmation came of what, if I’d thought about it, I’d known already: my speed, for an old git, wasn’t bad but my stamina was pretty lousy.  His analysis was that I was built to run up to 10K (so why I had a booked 5 half marathons in that year?)

So what to do with the stamina? Dave gave me a six-day a week programme of essentially endurance training, staying within a narrow heart rate zone (144-151) which would build the stamina and endurance.  Still sweating profusely, despite the shower (that’s what Strava is for, see, to cool down!) I headed out into the brave new dawn of structured intelligent training, dreaming about those PBs that would come tumbling and of the 1hour 30 half marathon Dave said was achievable.

Did it work?

Determined not to waste my two hour consultation and the fee (I am from Yorkshire after all), I dutifully programmed my watch for the different training days and embarked on the programme.  I found it very difficult to stay in the HR zone, and when I did,  I was overtaken by more than one snail, I was so slow.  Sometimes I failed totally and other times I seemed to manage.  Things seemed to be slowly progressing but then disaster struck.  Whether it was running six days a week or just bad timing I don’t know, but my knee decided it needed some time out and I had to hang up the running shoes for two months, missing one-half and abandoning another, just 4km into the run.  Once back running, I felt like I was starting again, not just the endurance training but running.  Since then I have shaved time off the last three runs I’ve done: the Great North, Paris-Versailles and the Shelton Striders 10K, the latter being a 10K PB too.

So was it worth the investment?  A big fat yes, if only because it made me think about my running more and gave me a structure to work to.  To get the most out of it, I think i need to go back and see how the HR zones have changed (if) and to adjust the training accordingly.  With the London Marathon looming ever larger over the horizon too, my endurance certainly needs working on still.  A half marathon is one thing, but doubling the distance and still being able to smile at the end is something else.


My Mablethorpe Marathon Mission

My Mablethorpe Marathon Mission

Last year after receiving an email that I didn’t get a ballot place at the 2015 Berlin marathon I decided to book a place at the Mablethorpe Marathon in October, it was low key, flat and very good pb potential.

Fast forward to June 2015 and I’d had an up and down season so far two top 5 ultra positions and a disaster at Milton Keynes Marathon. We were going to be moving house in a few weeks and the birth of our first child was getting close, so running was put on the back burner for a while. I just ran for fun and didn’t follow a training plan.

Moving House & Becoming a Dad

The move went well and 5 weeks later our son, Austin was born on the 4th of August, life was great but also very tiring and a couple of weeks passed and I had to decide, do I run Mablethorpe or just call it a lost cause and cancel my entry?

In my usual bull headed style, I decided I’d give it a go and try to complete it with only 5 weeks training, followed by a 2 week taper, risky but possible. Here’s how it went.

Starting the Long Runs

My first hurdle was could I still do a long run, I decided to try to run to Peak Forest and then lead the TRC social run over to Mam Torr and back followed by running home. 20 miles in total, I was very tired but I did it and that was the start of the journey to Mablethorpe.

The next three weeks I ran just over 30 miles a week, I had a really bad long run where I ran 16 miles before meeting up with the TRC social run, and we ran The Barrel Fell Race route. (The last 3 miles were tough, very tough!).

The fourth week I ran 42 miles and cycled over 20 miles, including getting up at 4:15 for a long run. The fifth week was to be my longest, all slow miles. A 22 mile early morning run, with the Stanage Struggle Fell Race being my last run of the week, making a grand total of 63 miles and a lot of fatigue.

The Taper

So the taper began with reduced miles, a trip to Berlin and aiming to be fresh for the race and ready to give it my best shot. I hoped to complete it in a time that I felt was reasonable.

We arrived the day before, just for a wander round the seaside with Austin. It was a sunny but cool weekend. The area was flatter than I had imagined and I was relaxed. On Sunday we arrived at the venue to find a well organised, local race and I was starting to feel nervous.

Working Within Your Limits Pay off

Soon it was ready for the off, and I felt great, I got into my stride and ran from miles 2-20 with Jinx (Jim). There was a lot of banter as he was telling me about his prep for the Marathon des Sables.
As I got to 20 miles my hip started to niggle, so I had two options, push on and hope f or the best, or take some walk breaks and finish well. I took the sensible option for a change, and I was right… still managing to finish in 3:21:01, a new pb by 3 mins 13 seconds (huge surprise).
So, what did I take from this? You can always find time, if you want something bad enough, being relaxed on race day is huge benefit and you really need more than 5 weeks of training before you taper for a marathon.

Mablethorpe Marathon

Run a Race To Test Yourself

There is much therapy to be gained from running. Almost every runner I speak to, comments on the therapeutic nature of getting outside on a run. Yet, It’s racing that I want to comment on today. I started running to get fit, and once you’re feeling an improvement in your fitness trying your hand at a race is the next logical challenge, as well as a good benchmark as to how your improving.

Run a Race – Competition is good

Run a Race for fun
Grindleford Fell Race 2015

When you run a race, you get the true rewards of all the hard work you’ve put in. You don’t have to be fast, or even all that good, but to compete against one’s peers, is to embrace our raw human nature, we are born to compete.

Many people are nervous about racing because they think they won’t be any good at it. Also, they are worried that they might embarrass themselves. The reality is that races almost always improve your performance, allowing you to surpass times and efforts that you would normally do in training.

Pre race excitement is hard to take.

When I race, I’m racing against myself as much as any other runner. I’m challenging myself to run harder, faster and longer than I normally do in training. If I can pass other people in the process, then all the better.

The Only way is up

To illustrate my point, This year (2015), I came last in the Shining Tor Fell Race. After just a few minutes, I realised that I was a bit out of my depth in terms of fitness. You might think that would dent one’s spirits, but in truth, it took the pressure off, allowing me to relax, run at a comfortable pace and to take in the stunning scenery of the Derbyshire Cheshire border. I ran badly, but despite my heavy legs, stopping for a wee, and falling twice. I had still run a 10k fell race in a time that I was proud of, against a more experienced field. I felt no shame in being last, in fact, it provided me with the perfect springboard for the rest of the season, because you can’t come lower than last. Later this year I put in a much better performance at the Grindleford Fell Race.

Tideswell Running Club Team - Grindleford Fell Race
The Support of your Team Mates Helps

So, to those who haven’t yet taken the plunge of doing their first race, I say forget about the fear of not performing and test yourself, you might surprise yourself.

Hathersage Fell Race Recce

Hathersage Fell Race Recce

After a night of Ark floating, Zeus raging storms, the weather could have gone either way for us. But the sheer optimism of TRC in shorts and tees brought out the sunshine in no time! We were ready for the Hathersage Fell Race Recce.

A little warm up before we started.

Even yours truly wore Kev’s baggy vest underneath the winter wear ‘just in case’. Needless to say it wasn’t long before we were squinting, sweating and smiling our way around the Hathersage Gala Fell Race course.

At the Start of the Race route - Hathersage School

Hathersage Gala Fell Race Route

The Hathersage Fell Race course is a stunning anti clockwise loop to the West of Hathersage, taking in both Owler and Higger Tor. Starting on the road near the school then climbing South out of the village, we picked up the track toward Scraper Low before heading right, past Whim Plantation, skirting Millstone Edge then up and over Owler Tor. Phew! Photo opportunities were taken advantage of…. and taken advantage of ……and taken advantage of again!

Coming up past the plantation

7 of us watched in awe as Sue and Lesley debated the course, discussing tree lines and contours like professionals, then agreeing with gusto.

From Owler Tor we contoured North past the sheep fold before the ascent up and over Higger Tor. Spectacular views were abound in every direction. From this birds eye view it was amazing to realise just how close our villages are to each other, encouraging wild imaginings of previously unthinkable routes being so…. achievable!

On Higger Tor

The descent back toward Hathersage took us over the road before heading South East down Callow Bank. After picking up The Dale Road for a short time we were back to the green stuff again on the track to Toothill Farm, where Ruth, our resident cow whisperer put her well honed skills into action, preventing yet another cow induced panic stricken fear frenzy. Thank you Ruth!


At Toothill Farm we were into the last kilometre of the 7.2km course, here we ascended East along the track past Moorseats Wood and up to Church Bank, before the hip jarring, bum wobbling, über steep descent down to the finish. After accosting an unassuming member of the public to assist with yet more photographs, we said our farewells to one another and left with a smile, maybe each one of us in turn, reflecting upon the gratitude we felt, living where we live and doing what we love.