Run report: Bill Fox’s Gravy Pud Race 2016

Run report: Bill Fox’s Gravy Pud Race 2016

Also know as my first official fell race. Also known as not my finest hour!

Bill Fox’s Gravy Pud Race is the winter counterpart of the Bill Fox Round the Resers trail race that happens every June. Both races are in memory of local man Bill Fox and raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Both races are billed at 5 miles (8km) long and both start in roughly the same place in Tintwistle, Glossop. But that is pretty much where the similarity ends. While Round the Resers goes on paths, well, around the reservoirs with a few inclines thrown in for good measure (and a ton of midges), Gravy Pud takes you way up into the fields and hills above the town.

I’ve done Round the Resers for two years running now, as has my boyfriend, so we decided to give Gravy Pud a go for a change.

I should mention that my partner is a fairly decent fell runner. Ok, he’s basically a mountain goat. I on the other hand am more of a trail girl who is learning to tolerate big hills. I love getting off road, but I appreciate a decent path to follow.

In the car on the way there I said something about a previous run we’d done together being a fell race and he said “Oh that wasn’t a fell race. That was a multi-terrain race”.

Well, that told me.

Unexpectedly now on my first fell run, I didn’t really know what was awaiting me. The only thing I’d seen was the picture on their Facebook page, but it couldn’t be that steep, surely. Maybe it was all a matter of perspective, a trick of the eye…

The start

The run started from The Bull’s Head pub and takes you down a country lane. So far so flat. Then it turns off and the first climb starts.

I tried to keep a few people in sight who I knew I was a similar pace to, but soon even they were long gone and I was trudging through the countryside, pretty much on my own. I passed some Sunday walkers who I would have done anything to join on their gentle ramble.

Going up

The toughest bit of the race is most certainly the 90 degree climb up the hill I’d seen in the race photo. My boyfriend took the picture below, which helpfully shows the view from the other side. And yes it is that long and that steep! I don’t think many people actually run it.

I was climbing it with a few others, but I might as well just have been on my own it felt that remote. The last few metres are a real clamber, and it was a saving grace that the weather was so pleasant for a December morning and the ground not too wet underfoot, otherwise I may have given up and rolled back down the hill.

It also didn’t help that I was carrying full fell kit (not because I had to, the conditions were actually ok, but because I had it with me and was scared of getting stuck on a moorside) so that added a bit of unnecessary weight.

One plus was a friendly face at the top of the hill as it turned out I knew one of the marshals. A pleasant surprise!

The view from the top

Also awaiting me after the climb was an absolutely stunning view over the Peak District and north Derbyshire. It was definitely worth getting out on a chilly winter’s day and hiking up a hill/attempting a fell run just for that.

From then on it was mostly flat or down hill and started to become more trail-like than fell. But I never really felt like I got my breathing properly sorted from the off, and I just couldn’t pick up any speed in my legs. I knew there was only one option – to finish – but I didn’t feel like I could push myself any further or faster. Especially when I hit the 8km/5 mile mark and the race hadn’t finished… my Garmin finally clocked the finish at 10.2km/6 miles!

I finished in 1:11:57, my slowest 10k ever. I came seventh from last, which has to be my worst standing in a timed run. And I’m pretty sure that most of the people that came behind me only did so cause they had taken a wrong turn at an unmarked gate.

Having said all that, though, overall I am pretty chuffed.

I made it through my first fell run, I didn’t give up despite some tough and very slow bits, and I had a brilliant day out in the countryside (followed by a meal in the pub, of course!) Am I itching to repeat it? Maybe not quite yet, but never say never. I may be a (sort of) fell runner yet…