by Pete Fotheringham
Herod Farm is the first race in this year’s GVS Summer Fell series. No-one I’ve spoken to seems to like the race, and just about everyone refers to it as “Horrid Farm”. This is probably because, whereas most shortish fell races go up a hill, along a bit then down the hill again, Herod Farm does that twice. Up the same hill. So I’m not exactly bursting with the thrill of anticipation as I make my way to registration at the Reliance Garage on Turnlee Road in Glossop, on a pleasant Wednesday evening. It’s lucky the weather is warm and dry, as Race HQ is in the open air, and there isn’t a pub within sensible walking distance.
I bump into a few Striders, though I thought there would be a few more: maybe the others are saving themselves for the races that only go up a hill once.
I’m quite relaxed because I’ve been pretty organised (for me). Not only have I completed the registration form in advance, and brought my own safety pins for my race number, I’ve also done a recce. Actually, I’ve done two, but the first one was a minor disaster involving getting a bit lost and a bit cold, and beating a hasty retreat back to the car. The second was OK though – a pleasant morning walk with Helen, taken at a relaxed pace, in very pleasant weather – and I’m quite happy that I know what’s coming and where I’m going. I even have a plan!
I’ve mentioned before that I have a running mantra which goes: “You’re doing this to enjoy yourself, no need to rush, it’s not a race!”. This works quite well for me, even when it actually is a race. I’m not that interested in racing, I know I’m not going to win, and there’s no-one I’m desperate to beat, so I can focus on running purely for the joy of it. So my plan, for pretty much every run I do is:
- Remember you’re here to enjoy yourself
- Don’t go off too fast
- Run when you can, if it doesn’t hurt too much
- Walk when you need to
- Walk even when you don’t need to, if you know there are some tough bits coming
This doesn’t mean I don’t push myself: there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from getting out of my comfort zone, and from pushing myself and running hard when I can. And there’s enjoyment from the improvement that happens when I do push myself.
Anyway, point 5 pretty much covers the first part of the route, the track up to Herod Farm, and point 4 takes me me up to the crest of the hill – the end of the first trip up Whiteley Nab. Then it’s a fun lollop across the moor towards Monks Road, before turning at Herod Edge Farm – Thank you marshal! – where the serious downhill to Simmondley begins. (Lollop is a good word: there are a number of different definitions: please choose whichever definition best suits the mental picture you may or may not have in your head just now.)
The good thing – one of the good things – about being at or near the back of a race, is that the field is quite spread out – actually I’m not sure I can see any other runners at all just now – and you can go at whatever pace takes your fancy without having to dodge or show consideration for other runners. So now I can fly (slight exaggeration perhaps) downhill through heather and across fields until I reach the path before the houses at Simmondley – Hello and thank you another marshal!
More lolloping, some crossing of muddy streams, past Whiteley Nab Farm, and then I’m outside the Pennine Care Home, where some serious point 5 kicks in again, up a track past some posh-looking houses. When I reach the field, there’s a very long bit of point 4: real runners might be able to run the first bit, but I’d pay good money to see anyone actually run the last couple of hundred yards to the top of the Nab. Even walking, I’ve pushed myself quite hard by the time I get to the top, so a quick sip of water, some incoherent words to a marshal, and it’s back to pleasant running around the top of the Nab, before the lovely long downhill across fields and – carefully this time, let’s not have a fall here – through heather, down to the track and let gravity take me to the finish.
I’ve finished, and it wasn’t actually that horrid, but mostly because there was lots of points 4 and 5, so the race as a whole for me was a mixture of a fairly pleasant run, and a good, stiff walk. Which is OK, but I’d prefer something where I can actually run a bit more and walk a bit less. Something like the Rainow 5 maybe, which happens to be in a couple of weeks 🙂
Thirteen Striders made the long trip to Glossop, with James Rees first GVS gent, in 28:43, and Linette Ruston first GVS lady in 38:48. Thanks to Glossopdale Harriers for organising the race. See you next year.