Cracken Edge Fellrace

Doing two races in two days was always going to be a bit of an ask. The Bradwell one was a no-brainer as it was a Glossopdale midweek counter. Cracken Edge is close to home, so it would be rude not to do it really. Also, I was told it was a pretty classic route, and also there is an internal competition for Mountain Rescue teams, so I was running it on behalf of Glossop MRT.

As it wasn’t a counter for the mid-week championship it was very tempting to sit back and chillout, not worrying about it too much. I don’t know why I try to kid myself like this. I don’t consider myself a very competitive soul normally, but put me on a hill with more than 3 more people, and I’m game for a race, even more so if they are in different club colours to me…

We got there nice and early, registered at Kinder Mountain Rescue HQ, (the proceeds of the race were being donated to KMRT), and wandered around for a bit before heading over to the start. I had heard that it was a bit of an uphill to begin with, but when I saw it, it was a different proposition from how I had imagined. It was one of the final down hills from Kinder Trog, a narrow, steep slightly dodgy underfoot track that went on for a good few hundred yards. Apparently there was a bottleneck- a stile at some point further on as well… so I thought I’d jog up the trail to check it out. There were a good number of people doing the same, and I came across a wall with a stile in it and figured I had found the pinch point. Excellent. A jog down the hill, a look at the final descent- down a grassy hill, and to stretching.
Psoas and Iliacus were the targets today. This was a longer race than Shining Moss in which I had the psoas and diaphragm problems, and I really didn’t want that happening today. A decent stretch later and I went to the start area. Crowded, chock-a-block, and with more people than looked like could fit up the path, a good start was going to be essential. I went over to the wall, and saw Darran (who I know from Mountain Leader shadowing) and Simon- the Notts AC guy whom I beat (just) in Wormstones last week. We exchanged pleasantries, and got ready for the start. A short speech thanking KMRT for the organisation and marshalling, and the hooter hooted and we were off.

I was very glad for checking out the hill beforehand, I didn’t really need to look where I was going, and knew what was going on under my feet, so I was free to concentrate on not getting kicked to death by the horde around me. As expected, a number of people went off far too fast and within 100 metres, were falling back as the hill progressed at the same gradient as before. I could see John and Jules ahead of me, Gwyn was miles ahead already, and Simon snuck in front of me as well.
Top of the hill, and where I thought the pinch point was, the gate was open. So much for that then. There must be another one along the way. I could see the front runners (just) and there weren’t enough people in front of me to form a significant time wasting queue should we hit a stile. I just needed to keep going.
Up, onto a track that went around and past the TV mast, and onto a moor. It undulated along and Simon and I traded places as the going got worse and better underfoot.
Aha, a stile. I accelerated and got over it before Simon, remembering his form over gates last week(!), and forged on. Through a field, over another stile (I’m quite inordinately proud of my stile jumping skills, if you hadn’t gathered), but stubbed a finger on this one, and carried on left along a dirt track road, shaking my hand. Ouch.

The dirt road was not the greatest, but I only lost a place or so, but Julien was beginning to pull away from me. Left up a track, and I saw John in the distance, going up the hill. It was the last I saw of him until the finish. Up the hill we went, and predictably Simon passed me, along with a Dark Peaker and a Pennine guy. Up and up to someone taking pictures, a right and them bombing down the track again. After about 300 metres I catch back up to Simon, and eventually manage to overtake. Julien is far away in front and barely to be seen on this descent, so I carry on down to the Dark Peaker and Pennine (who was sneezing all the way down- I said bless you a few times, but never got a single “Thankyou”- mind you, he may have had other things on his mind), caught them on the final part, overtake the DPer, but left Pennine in front to open the gate.
Passed him on the final part to the metalled road, and carried on down, exchanging pleasantries with the marshals as I went.
The road started flat and we ran neck and neck, then it started plummeting down and I gained on him somewhat. We clomped down the tarmac in a small group (I think, I wasn’t looking behind, but could hear a load of footsteps behind me), and all of a sudden a guy in a red vest hurtles down inbetween us at a pace that I’d generally reserve for the final descent. As he passed out of earshot, the DPer said, “don’t worry lads, he’ll be back with us on the climb… problem is, he can do that on the final run down as well…”.

As we got to the bottom of the road he and the Pennine chap came in front of me and were able to get onto the climb before me, not too much of an issue, but the DPer just motored up the hill. It was an odd one, an easy gradient for about 20 metres followed by a sharp kick for 5, then 20 of easy gradient (but not flat), so it was all eminently runnable. At least, it was runnable had you not been going for 4 miles already. I dropped into a lower gear and started at a pace which I could keep up to the top, and began reeling in the guy in the red top that overtook us on the descent, yep, got him, and the Pennine (sneezing) guy (who I also noticed had gaffa tape around his ankle. I was (seriously) just about to engage him in conversation about how Zinc Oxide tape would be more supportive and less sweaty for a race like this, but thought better of it.  I can think of stuff like this while running. I can’t be trying hard enough.

I carried on, up and up, I could see Julien in front, but didn’t think I had the legs to catch him. We went passed family with 2 small kids who were clapping us, so I took the time to say thankyou to them, and smile at the photographer (I swear I don’t run hard enough sometimes, talking to spectators and smiling tends to mean you aren’t trying… hmmmm) and up.
I could hear someone coming up behind me, ragged of breath, but steady, as I came up on another person (on an uphill- check me out!) we went up, and along a steep cambered track which was impossible to overtake on, and then, regular as clockwork, Simon came past. Dammit. And past the guy in front.

Instant decision was made, try and keep up with him to the top. If he is going this fast, he’s going to catch Julien, if I can hold on for as long as possible, maybe I can too… first things first, overtake this one. I dart around him as soon as I can, and clamber onto Simons heels. Up, and over a stile, round a corner, and you can see the top of the climb- still quite a way away, keep it going, dragging on.
The heat was oppressive, but you have to do what you have to do. Catching up with Julien, we come to the final steeper part of the climb to the top, 7 people at the top looking down on us, taking photos. I’ve run up to the Big Stone before, and it was horrible, I ended up walking. Today, I can see Julien walking up it too. Hmmm, would walking be more efficient? Simon doesn’t think so and launches himself at the hill. Nothing for it then, lets do it. Halfway up Charlie’s voice rings out- “Well done Tim! Keep it going!”, I see Jules look around and he sees me for the first time in the race, not 30 yards behind. Damn. I was being SO stealthy there! Nevermind. GeoffB is up there as well with a camera- arms out wide and a big thumbs up to him… (shouldn’t I be trying harder?!… but I wonder if that photo came out…)

It did. And here it is.

 “Gwyn is 2nd!” shouts Charlie- I remember shouting something back, and grinning at his camera as well, before heading over the brow of the hill and trying to catch Simon, who had leapt ahead on the final part of the climb.
A short descent to a stile, and I swear I’m beginning to lose pace. Thankfully, the stretching seems to have done the trick and there is no pain from the hip flexors or the diaphragm. I caught Simon after the stile, and overtook, and he said “theres an up hill again in a minute”- “I know, not looking forward to it!” I think I gasped back.
Now I could see Julien and his closest competitor in front of me. Buxton. Flipping heck- thats Darran. Down the grass, past another photographer (thumbs up and a smile this time), right and along a track (that in the Kinder trog had me faceplant into a verge), this time, choosing my feet a little more carefully. I strode out, trying to keep space between me and Simon, and was slowly catching Jules and Darran. Along, over a stream, undulating and round a corner, I can hear breathing behind me, but not too close. Never look around. Listen. Its the slamming gates that let you know how far people really are behind you- and look at that- a gate coming up.
Julien opens the gate, I’m gaining, Darran pushes it open as he goes through- a burst of speed and I just make it through before it crashes shut. Bonus. I don’t have to spend time opening the gate, AND they think they have got through way before me….. clink, crash, the gate opens and closes about 7 seconds behind me… they think I’m there, not directly behind. Nice. Just keep up now.
Down the grassy track- I’ve biked down here, I know what to expect. We stretch out and speed down the hill, 3 runners in close proximity. Down and past a little knoll on the left where Alison and Andrea are standing. I’m pretty sure Jules doesn’t know quite how close I am, so I make exaggerated “hush” gestures to them… but Andrea *is* his wife, and said …”you do know who’s behind you don’t you”… ah well, only to be expected really.
The descent got technical, the pace slowed (ever so slightly), so I figured I’d take Darran on the outside camber, 5 steps into the manoeuvre and it goes wrong and I tumble, hill below and to the right, I roll, and am back on my feet barely having lost time, but with Darran asking if I was alright- “yeah yeah, I’m fine, not a problem” I reply and immediately try exactly the same thing on the left, I think he was a little scared I might do something really silly and slowed down a little as I tore down after Julien.
The path heads off to the right, into a gully, still “interesting” underfoot, Julien passes the Dark Peaker that I last saw at the start of the last ascent. He says something about trouble getting the gate open, and I bomb past him as well in hot pursuit. Down into the woods.

I know that the finish is around here somewhere, but I can’t remember how this part relates to where it ends. Is it in 200 metres? Is it in 500? 1000? I have no idea, but I know there is a right trending slope, and we have to go down this gully first.
We plunge down, (I hope) leaving everyone far behind in our wake, through the ruts made by mountainbikers and out past a building.
Does it turn right here? Is this the end? No. A slight incline, continuing through the wood. Ah… at the end of the wood, that’s the right turn, I hope it is, I don’t think I can hold onto this pace much longer.
No. We jump over a stile and into a sloping field- but we have to run across it. Damn. I can see the end, its in the next 2 fields over. Its a steep camber, and I remember this from the Kinder Trog, I think I got overtake by 2 people here… Digging deep, I hang onto Juliens coattails, hoping that we aren’t slowing down enough for people behind to catch up.
The field goes on forever. The camber is tiring on the legs. The heat is suffocating. Julien is running pretty damn fast.
I. Have. To. Keep. Up. You know those nagging thoughts of “I’ll just take it easy for this race”, “I’ll see how I do”, “I’m not really going to try for this one”. etc. Get to 300yrds from the finish, it all goes out the window. Its the finishline or bust.
Through a gate, and the field slopes to the right, 8 posts mark the curve down the hill to the final headlong dash straight down the hill, I follow Jules down the curve, wait, wait, wait, wait. 2 posts go past. not yet. Julien is an excellent descender, and I don’t want to give him the chance to re-overtake. The third, wait. not yet.
The fourth post marks just past the mid point of the curve, and I kick, going on the outside.
Ground underfoot isn’t great, but I stride out, the theory being if my legs hit the right bits of ground, I’ll run to the end, if they hit the wrong bits, I might just have enough momentum to roll and bounce my way to the end before Julien.
I fly. Descend like a stone, lungs bursting, legs screaming straight down the fall line into the funnel.
50:14 by my watch.
Well. That’s pretty good. I don’t actually care about the placing, I beat Julien. (Sorry Jules).

Darran, Pennine, DPer and Simon come in a couple of places behind and we congratulate each other on a well run race, delight in the excellent route that it took, and generally try and swat away the large number of flies and insects gathering around us. At this point I noticed that my left arm was hurting, and put it down to being bitten by a horsefly or something… ow, it really did hurt. It wasn’t until about 10 mins later that I remembered that I fell over on that descent and must have rolled on that arm to get up… aaah. That explains a lot.

In the pub later, Gwyn got a prize for coming second overall, John, who I barely saw all race won the V45, in 12th place overall (in a time just outside his PB), Julien won V50 in 17th. As for the MRT prize, I’m happy to say that Glossop retained it with me, Jules and another team member (sorry, I really can’t remember you name… Alistair?) being the fastest top 3 of any of the competing teams. Its quite a buzz having your name read out, and collecting a prize. I might have to try a bit harder next time…

Well done to Pennine who, as a whole and as a team had a cracking good evening, with a decent haul of alcoholic prizes. Please drink it all, it might slow you down!
Thanks to Kinder Mountain Rescue Team for putting it on, organising it an marshalling it, and to the many photographers around the course (If you read this and happen to have any of me, drop me a line, as at the moment, I have no photos to put on the blog- Lynne was at the GMRT meeting, so I’m sadly lacking in vanity photos…. and it makes this a very black and white blog)
Great to see such a good turn out as well. An excellent evening.
Here’s a track of the course with all the normal stats, feel free to have a look
Tell a lie, I do have one photo which was taken on my phone for posterity.
Here it is. 

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