Summer’s here, and with it comes fell racing season. All over the north bunches of enthusiasts scamper updownroundacross rough ground. Very often on a midweek evening after work, then both days at the weekend.
None of these events can work though without another bunch of enthusiasts behind the scenes. Usually they’re either friends and family, or off duty runners contributing to our community. So here’s a little peek behind the scenes from one of those folk. In this case, a runner who doesn’t race, persuaded by friends who own a running shop to help(me, but you’d figured that out hadn’t you?).
We’re at Edale, at their local fair.
My friends at Accelerate along with Dark Peak Fell Runners and Edale Country Day have organised a race, part of their Gritstone Series. It’s a short race, 7.6km(4.7mi) with 402m(1319ft) of quite steep ascent, up onto the Kinder plateau, along the edge a bit, then back down to the fair.
A couple hundred or so adult runners(men & women run the same route, for the same prize scheme) will chase up and down Kinder from pub to fair; somewhat steep, rather rough. To some competitors chagrin, they run away from the pub. There’s a fun kid’s race too, around a quite steep field behind the pub. The course records are quick; Simon Bailey (2005) – 31:46 and Janet McIver (2008) – 38:23.
The race start is at eleven, but we’re here in the village hall at nine. Other people have been busy from early doors, marking the route, getting checkpoints in place on the hill, checking the radios and timing gear hired earlier all work, setting up the finish area. All the planning, permissions, publicity, printing of numbers and forms has been going on for months; contributing to Debs and Stu going grey.
We exchange hellos and hugs, drop baking in the kitchen. Then bustle around, setting up tables, sorting safety pins, pens, floats, entry forms, race numbers. Then a much needed coffee, and we wait.
Ah, here come the entrants …
And there’s always someone dashes in on the last gasp.
There’s some welcome familiar faces, some familiar questions. Yes, it is marshalled and waymarked; no, FRA kit is not mandatory though our friends at Edale MRT may be unsympathetic if you cock up; yes we do need an emergency contact; there’s a weather forecast on the wall by the route map; yes it is steep; no, road flats are not suitable. And finally, yes we do supply safety pins; they’re next to your hand. Oh, and another thing, remember your race number.
Cut off time passes, we queue for the loo, grab another coffee and some cake.
Then realise how long we’ve been gassing, and run to the finish line.
Recording the finishing order is probably going to be needed, and that’s our job. The recording is high tech. I now have the timer, started by Debs as the runners set off. Each time a runner staggers over the line, I press a button, it prints the elapsed time on a till roll. At the other side of the funnel, someone else fills in the race numbers on a spreadsheet(okay, a piece of paper with numbered lines on it; don’t knock it, it works).
These get run back to the hall intermittently, so we can announce first three in each category on the field later. Everyone else can look on the shop website next week.
After everyone is in, a clean up. The reverse of this morning; route marshalls strip the hill, we strip the finish area, put the hall back together.
And then the nice bit of giving out the prizes on the main field. No medals or shirts, but decent prizes for the top three, and water at the finish. Typical of dozens of such races being run this day throughout the country.
And then for us, more coffee, more cake. And a chat how the prep for next year is going, and reassurance that yes, we’ll be back to help.