I don’t really race nowadays, apart from the occasional fell race, and I certainly don’t spend every weekend doing events, but I had had the Hathersage Hurtle booked in for a while and was really looking forward to it after doing the nearby Grindleford Gallop as part of my Manchester marathon training a couple of years ago.
The Hathersage Hurtle has only been running for 3 years, and is a small locally organised event, taking in 20 miles of the beautiful trails in the Derbyshire Dales including the breathtaking Stanage Edge.
The race is pretty much no frills – no medal, a T-shirt as an optional extra – so suits me down to the ground. I love events like this, which really offer an opportunity to explore an area new to me, and the Hathersage Hurtle did not disappoint.
Parking was easy in a large field. Registration, just across the road, was a very simple and quick process, where we were given our number, and a wristband which we had to scan at the 8 checkpoints around the course. There were plenty of portaloos with no queue (and lots of loo roll). There was free tea and coffee (and cake!) for runners at the start and finish too
We set off from the start area at 10am. The organisers had changed the route slightly to make the runners do a lap of the field first to avoid the bottleneck at the first climb but we still queued a while to climb the steps and pass through the first gate. However, we weren’t in a rush and with a long event, the delay didn’t matter at all. The route began to climb straight away up the first hill along a quiet road, with views over to the distant edge which we would run along later. The climb was quite relentless and went on for about 5 miles, at which point we got chatting to Tom who was the only runner not wearing running kit or running shoes, who looked like he was out for a stroll on his flip flops. It turns out he had been a barefoot runner for a few years, and this was his first distance event of any kind so he was asking us for lots of tips about nutrition and pacing on ultra events. Shortly after a fun downhill, we had reached the first feed point in Shatton where we topped up water, and had some cake and half a banana.
We continued on our way, along a very flat trail lined with trees, knowing there was another big climb to come up onto the edge. The climb did seem to go on for ever, initially along a road, and then – at the second feed station – onto a track where it got a little steeper, but with beautiful views across the valley. We had passed the halfway point of the race by now, and Tom had dropped back a little so the three of us continued to the top.
The views at the top took our breath away, and we then had a wonderful run along the rocks to the trig point. The organisers had put on another bonus water stop here, before we headed along the bottom of Burbage rocks, before hitting our last feed station at the entrance to the stunning Longshaw estate, along a beautiful little brook and through the woods.
More tea and coffee and cake at the finish, and all in all a fantastic day out in the hills. The marshals were all great and stayed at road crossings and feed stations all day looking after us. There were no plastic cups en route at all, so we were encouraged to fill our own bottles or carry a soft cup. The organisers also promoted a lift share scheme to reduce the environmental impact of travelling to their event, so Jo and I travelled down together from Bolton. I really value the organisers’ commitment to looking after the environment which is something I wish more events would do. This was a superb event with a stunning route which I would highly recommend.
Here’s the link to the stats on my Strava