An unexpected message telling me a friend was running Stoney Middleton Fell Race pricked my ears and helped me decide that if I could make it back from work in time, I should run it. Having struggled whilst running the Ladybower Marathon, this time, I was keen to make sure I didn’t eat or drink anything that’d be detrimental to my ability to run before the race.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan, during the day I had a number of meetings in Manchester. I finally got to catch up with a friend and celebrate the success we’d had with a project we’d been working on over the last couple of months. This led to a couple of impromptu pints in the hours leading up to the race, and how my prior good intentions didn’t quite go to plan.
Stoney Middleton Fell Race
Nevertheless, the race was set to begin at 7:30 pm and I was at the start line listening to the pre-race briefing. When I set off, I ran as fast as I could to get to the front of the pack. Fellow runner Ian from Steel City Striders, who I’d chatted to before the race had advised that if I wanted to avoid getting caught up in the bottleneck of runners trying to get through the gate and onto the narrow path, I’d need to get to the front. Upon the call of “go’, I was off and running far too fast but I knew I could ease off once I’d got in front of the crowd and through the gate.
The long hard climb
But I hadn’t anticipated what lay ahead, turning left after The Moon Inn to run up the high street was my realisation that this hill is not an easy hill. The first 3 km consists of a 183m climb, and the dryness in the air combined with those two pints earlier in the day left me gasping for liquid. There was a very brief splatter of rain whilst climbing the hill, I tilted my head back and opened my mouth wide in the hope some raindrops would whet my whistle, not this time. As I eased off the pace up the hill a fellow runner beside me was also struggling with the heat, retching loudly whilst we ascended the macadam single track road.
When I’d almost reached the top an aid station came into sight, it wasn’t a mirage they were kindly handing out cups of water to each parched runner. The water tasted incredible, and the sense of rehydration took the edge off my dusty dry mouth. Continuing along the route there was a short but welcome descent before continuing up the final gradual climb to the top of the hill at around the 5 km mark.
And then back down again
From here on out it was a nice descent back to the finish line and I could pick up some places and time by bombing down the hills. On the long ascent up the hill I couldn’t hold my pace and Ian came steadily past me whilst I was struggling with my savagely dry mouth, but with gravity on my side I strode past him on the descent. As it turns out he was nursing a dodgy ankle so I’ve no doubt that he’d have easily kept ahead of me had he been in full fitness.
On final descent to the playing field, I really let rip and scooted past a couple of runners then dropped pace a little before opening it up for the final sprint to the finish line. After only running races of half marathon distance or longer, I really enjoyed the lack of needing to keep track of my pace throughout the course. I certainly pushed much faster on the parts that I could but seriously struggled on the hills, lesson learnt, I need to do more hill training.
Proud of my finish time, I was eager to discover more local, short fell races I could try my hand at on these long summer evenings. As it turns out, FellRunner.org.uk lists most fell running events, month by month with a handy location column too. Hold my pint whilst I rummage through this treasure trove of fell running goodness all neatly organised and ready for the running, BRB.
Stone Middleton Fell Race Strava Stats