Sun 11th Apr, 1999
Annual Fell Race, Glossop
True to recent form the dawning of a perfect running day saw the majority of KMC members rifling through the old draw of tried and tested excuses that could masquerade as a reason for avoiding any form of outdoor activity more strenuous than belaying through the sun-roof of their four wheel drive. Not to be too unfair though, a dozen old stalwarts did manage to drag their weary carcasses from their pits and pass the first test of the day - navigating their way to The Wheatsheaf Pub nestled in the cosy heart of Old Glossop. Of course it may be that the poor turn out was not due to apathy, but rather to an absence of navigational skill in this preliminary heat of the day's events - hard to imagine in a mountaineering club - but more of that later!!
The course this year had an unusual twist - it didn't start from the start! Instead, after the "weigh in", all competitors were transported to the Snake Inn. From here the course saw the runners meandering pleasantly along Fairbrook before breaking right to gently ascend to Ashops Edge, it was then a short hop and a skip along the edge and down to Millhill. The course then kicked right (unless you were Scottish and regularly climbed with a member of the BMC technical committee) for a lazy jog along the Pennine Way, over the Snake and on a bit further before choosing from a selection of alternative ambles down to Yellow Slacks, from there the runners could change into neutral and coast down hill back to Old Glossop and the enthusiastic crowds of doting fans eagerly awaiting their arrival. Marshals were sprinkled around the route, landing at the Eastern end of Ashops, the Millhill turn, and the top of Yellow Slacks crag (or there abouts). All competitors were issued with an OS map with the route and position of the Marshals clearly highlighted with fluorescent marker pen.
Prior to the race all competitors were given a thorough medical, not only to guarantee their fitness for the run, but also to collect data to be inputted into the KMC handicap computer (this data is contained in the final table of results and includes some fascinating insights into the competitors' physical attributes normally hidden beneath layers of high-tech mountaineering fibre - please note this information is not suitable for children below the age of 18 or those KMC members with a sensitive disposition!!).
The runners left in two groups - the old and infirm setting an initial blistering pace with sticks and zimmers flayling in their wake. These were shortly followed by those competitors who had exhibited a youthful exuberance at the weigh in - this list included a couple of English fell running champions (or something very close to that) - not that such competition perturbed seasoned old goats like Mapleson and Metelko - they'd seen it all before - remember Mark Williams??
After seeing the runners (and I use that word loosely) off, I retired to the Wheatsheaf Pub for a pint of Guinness and to wait expectantly amongst the thronging hoards of spectators. Unfortunately, my rest and relaxation were shattered all too soon. After just 110 minutes the crowds became uneasy as rumours ran rife that a runner had been spotted on the final stage of the Doctors Gate track. Suddenly the unease broke into a roar as Anthony, a mere slip of a lad - more whippet than human, rounded the final corner, Union Jacks waved frantically, helicopters dropped ticker tape, and air was full of cheers, clapping, Jamaican drums and the of popping of champagne corks. Just 1 hour and 49 minutes after leaving the Snake Inn young Antony had crossed the finish line. However, as Anthony is not a KMC member, his sterling performance was only of academic interest - the real race was unfolding with mysterious twists and turns behind him. Though not quite in the same league, I soon spotted the Mapleson nose, followed a yard or two later by the head and body - another sterling performance by a man who looked as if he was making a last desperate bid for freedom!!! No sooner had Roger been revived by St John's Ambulance, caged and escorted back to a bulging Brigette, than I heard the familiar wheeze of Metelko's old lungs - forgoing all but the last vestiges of life Metelko had almost pipped the Mapleson.
So far things were looking good, - though Anthony had pointed towards one glitch. Apparently Mat (non-KMC) had been in front of him just before the final check point - but where was he now?? Fortunately he did eventually turn up, having fallen victim to the "Williams syndrome" (as in Mark), he'd missed the check point, going on to traverse the Longandale valley before returning to Old Glossop with an additional 6 miles under his belt - only to be disqualified.
Thirty minutes later the glasses on the table began to shake, cracks propagated across the ground, dogs began barking and children screaming. Such a severe earth tremor could only have one of two causes, either an unexpected shift in tectonic plates or an early sign that Dave Wylie was approaching fast. Behind him the banks of Fairbrook had collapsed, Ashops edge reduced to a boulder field and the paved section of the Pennine way crushed into shingle. Floundering in the Wylie wake of devastation was Craig Marsden. Both gladiators raced up the final hill with barely a quark separating them, on the line however Wylie managed to sneak a one second advantage to come in fourth with Craig taking a very creditable fifth.
Unfortunately, from here on in things started to go awry. The Scottish contingent, embodied in Sheena Hendrie, appeared not only to suffer high-altitude myopia when missing the large flags-stones of the Pennine Way, but also to struggle with basic navigation despite having a map, compass, GPS unit, paid guides and a path of crumbs to follow. Consequently Sheena arrived at the finish having run directly down into Glossop. Not to be out done by the Sassanachs, Sheena chose to run out along Doctors gate and up Yellow Slacks to be registered by the final marshal, she then had to turn round and run back down again - a fine example to us all of gritting the teeth when the going gets tough - or on the other hand of "looking before you leap" or "less haste more speed"!
The remaining competitors, though reaching Glossop at various times during the following week, were all disqualified for not having registered with each of the three marshals. Of particular interest were the events that accompanied Margaret Baldock and Sue Brooke. It would appear that Margaret had also fallen foul of that much feared mountaineer's disease cartologous dyslexious (possibly caught from KMC's own climbing aces Mary and Chris who, despite having undergone an intensive treatment programme, were, at the time of the fell race, lost on some Jordanian multi-pitch route with nothing but a map of Snowdonia and the Stanage guide to help them). It would appear that Margaret became totally disoriented, so much so that she staggered past Glossop completely unaware of all the houses, the infamous chimney, and the swathes of tarmac. On she went drifting in and out of consciousness before a good Samaritan, noting that Hadfield town centre was not the place for a swaggering wild-eyed mud covered woman, turned Margaret round, pointing her in the direction of Old Glossop.
Meanwhile, back on the fells Sue had aggravated an old ankle injury (or at least that was the excuse she was sticking to) and had been forced to crawl, in true Joe Simpson style, across many miles of crevasse-riven peat bog before dragging herself onto the Snake Pass to risk life and limb hitching back to Glossop.
It was with some relief that 17 days after pulling the starter pistol's trigger, I could utter Brian Hanrahan's famous Falkland's phrase, "I counted them out and I counted them back." It had been a hard fought race full of trials and tribulations, but ultimately all competitors came up smelling of roses when compared to those limp loafs languishing in their own lethargy who did not support this important annual KMC ritual - Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
Competitors Race Credentials
(this information is protected under the Data Protection Act and must not be copied without attaining prior permission from the author).
|Name||Sex||Age||Weight (Kg)||Body Fat (mm)||Attire||Experience|
|Margaret Baldock||Female||23||14st12oz||23||Durable||Files Confidential !!!|
|Alois Metelko||Rather Climb||51||6st2oz||3||White hat|
Holed Ron Hills
|Dubious European origin.|
Lifelong friend of Fidel Castro (Fido to his mates)
|Roger Mapelson||Due Oct.||39||8st4oz (body)|
|Ball & Chain||Concorde prototype.|
One time Motorcyclist now swapped for family estate!
|Dave Wylie||Bed not reinforced||51||0.43tonne||62||Astronaut Suit||Three years as a Muon (207x mass of electron)at the CERN accelerator|
|20||0.0039oz||no body||G string|
|15 years as precocious school boy|
|Mark Thatcher's map reader|
|Sheena Hendrie||Scot||43||74 haggis||3 fried mars bars||Kilt, Caber and Scabbard||5 years at HM's pleasure.|
4 seasons as Charles' gillie at Balmoral.
|Sue Brooke||Ankle ache||42||10st 9oz||47||Luminescent Green body paint||Bit part in Bond movie - colour blind|
|Peter Walker||Say again||84||11st12oz||1¾"||Arran Jumper|
|Darwin's Steward on the Beagle.|
4 years as Smithy in Boer war
Wilfred Owen's taylor.
|Neil Perry||?||21||12st2oz||46||Camouflage||Eaton Boys School|
|Lester Payne||Humbug||57||14st10oz||71||Orange oilskin with matching sox||16 years as chief couturier for Channel.|
|Craig Marsden||Twice||39||11st12oz||57||Laura Ashely Blouse, Gingham skirt|
|Completed the first 100m of several mountain marathons.|
Medical guinea pig for promising cramp cures.
Final positions and times.
|Anthony||1hr49'30"||1st (non KMC)|
An additional award, in three categories, goes to: Sheena Hendry Fastest Woman Slowest Woman Only Woman
Finally I would like to extend my thanks to all those who entered this grueling event, Martin Greenwood for transporting a packed car of runners from Glossop to the Snake Inn, the hoards of enthusiastic spectators and autograph hunters, and last, but not least, the wonderful Marshals, without whose support and guidance half the runners would have been disqualified!!
Check Point 1. - - Ken Glen-Livet Beetham
Check Point 2. - - Frank & Margaret Williams
Check Point 3. - - Andy Croughton & Heather Brooke (not that many runners found them!!!!)
Kevin assured me he would gladly organise this year's race again, after his return from his post PhD chill-out in Oz. This meet preview is therefore by proxy; confirm details nearer the time with the man himself.
Start location is again the Wheatsheaf Pub car park, Old Glossop, scene of last year's notorious "Anderson AndyCapping". 1pm prompt is the latest time to gather, as Kevin thought a one-way run was a good idea. Fortunately for us, he is proposing to ferry everyone to a "distant" start and get us to find our way back, rather than despatch us from Glossop to the depths of Bleaklow, never return. However, I have a suspicion we wont be dropped quite at the top of the hills.
Entry requirements: At least 1 working leg, an ability to find checkpointers dressed in bright red cagoules in open country, and a bit of adventurous spirit to GIVE IT A GO - it is a good laugh. Walking is quite acceptable, and probably faster than most runners running. Kevin should be organising showers at Glossop sports centre, so that you are ready for the evening Hot Pot without those trendy PeatBog leggings.
Volunteers to man the checkpoints, or validate the weigh-in at the start, would be most welcome.
Late news: Rumours suggest 2 of last year's cup winners may still be chasing Orang-Utangs as training when the day comes, so pot hunters - clear that space on your mantelpiece!