Fell running is running off road over hilly and often rugged country, where the climbing is a significant part of the challenge, but the underfoot conditions can also be challenging. The classic area for fell running is the Lake District, but races take place in most upland areas, including the Dales, the Peak District and the Shropshire Hills. Fell running in England is co-ordinated by the Fell Runners Association (FRA) which is affiliated to UK Athletics. Fell races can involve a great variety of terrain including, but not limited to, firm grass, tussocks, heather, bracken, rocks both large and small, scree, bogs and mud. The route may be on clearly marked tracks, narrow trods or over open and featureless fell side, and will sometimes include short sections of road. Fell races are categorised according to distance and climb: they can be as short as 1.2 miles (1.9 km) with 630 feet (190 m) of climb – the Lantern Pike race or as long as 31.7 miles (51 km) with 4400 feet (1340 m) of climb – the Howarth Hobble. It is probably fair to say that the most popular races are in the range from 4 to 10 miles.
Fell running has been popular with Springfield Striders for many years, although the number of members participating in races will always be limited because of the need for travelling, with only the races in Shropshire being genuinely practicable within a day’s round trip. The cost of actually entering a race, on the other hand, is often as low as £5.
At the beginning of December 2018 six Striders ran the Cardington Cracker (AM; 9 miles/2600 ft) near Church Stretton, in Shropshire. This race is a bit of a classic, but is unusual in that the route is fully marked. Each of the first two steep ascents is followed by a long and fast descent, but after crossing a stream there follows a section that is frankly a bit of a slog. Conditions were good in that it was mild, and underfoot was fairly firm (apart from the ankle deep mud encountered shortly after the start), although it was extremely windy. That proved to be a boon on the final undulating ridge where we had the wind behind us. Stuart Raven finished an excellent 34th out of a field of 271 in 1.32.35 with Paul Jeggo not far behind in 1.33.03 for 38th/ 1stV55). That places Stuart third on the all-time list of Striders at this race, going back to 2005. Tim Brockington, Alistair Gillan, Stuart Darney and Sara Demetriou finished somewhat further back, with Stuart and Sara making their debuts on the fells.
Post-race refreshments were enjoyed at the village hall where Paul picked up his age category prize, and then at the Royal Oak
Most of this group, as well as Chris Purse and Janet Hill, will be running the Long Mynd Valleys race in February, another category AM race, with 4500 feet of climb (and descent of course) in its 11.5 miles.
Fell Running review February 2019
Six members ran the Long Mynd Valleys race (AM; 11.5 miles/4500 ft) on February 10th. Paul Jeggo finished an excellent 42ndout of 171 finishers, 1stMV55 in 2.07.42. Stuart Raven found this classic race a bit tougher than his last outing, the Cardington Cracker, finishing in 2.25.21. Other Striders’ times were Chris Purse 3.00.57, Sara Demetriou 3.11.37, Tim Brockington 3.13.47 and Janet Hill 3.17.59. Stuart, Tim and Janet had run the Titterstone Clee Hill race (AS; 2.5 miles/750 feet) the day before, in savagely windy conditions, finishing in 26.02 (19th), 31.32 (30th) and 35.09 (37th) respectively, in a field of 43. Only 15 runners completed both races.
This was a convivial weekend away (most of us stayed at Mynd House, a B&B in Little Stretton near to the Ragleth Inn) which was enjoyed by all participants.
Lingwood Time Trial
The final Lingwood time trial of the year was held on December 29th, with Paul Broome turning the tables on Paul Jeggo, finishing in a PB of 12.19 and moving up to third on the all time list (at least since 2015, before which the results are lost). Six men and two women ran, with Clare Broome and Alistair Gillan also recording PB’s.
Fell race categories (under FRA rules)
L (Long) 20 km (12 miles) or over
M (Medium) Over 10 km (6 miles) but under 20 km
S (Short)10 km or shorter
Category A - Should average not less than 50 metres climb per kilometre (260 feet per mile). Should not have more than 20% of the race distance on road. Should be at least 1.5 kilometres in length.
Category B - Should average not less than 25 metres climb per kilometre (130 feet per mile). Should not have more than 30% of the race distance on road.
Category C - Should average not less than 20 metres climb per kilometre (100 feet per mile). Should not have more than 40% of the race distance on road. Should contain some genuine fell terrain