To quote Alice Willson (the ladies race winner), ‘The Holme Moss was really bonkers’. I think we can all agree with that. Not just on the day of the race, but the days leading up to it.
For about 2 weeks before the race we had continuous heavy rainfall and people recceing the route were reporting back some difficulties crossing Crowden Great Clough (between Bareholme and Laddow). It’s never been thought of as a risk until now. It looked alright 2 days before, but the day before it looked impossible (as shown in the photo sent on Saturday).
Fortunately, Bob Appleyard, Adrian Dixon, Chris & Jean inspected it (on the way to deliver 16 bottles of water to Laddow) had a lot of mountain experience between them. They recommended the diversion to miss out Bareholme. Basically, there was no choice.
On the day of the race, Bob and Adrian manned the checkpoint at Laddow, along with 3 others and placed flags and installed a rope on the way up, to ease the approach over those streams that are normally just a trickle. How lucky we are to have those guys.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that there was any difficulty after leaving Laddow for Black Hill. If I had, I would have accepted the help offered by Holme Valley Mountain Rescue to provide assistance (lots of donations to HVMRT at the race venue). I heard horrifying reports from race finishers trying to cross the streams. Fortunately, everyone made it, partly due to the runners aiding each other (don’t you just love this sport and its participants).
We had 134 on-line pre-entries, of which 99 turned up. Add to that, we had 32 entries on the day. Of the 131 starters, we only had 4 that failed to finish and all runners finished well within the target time of 5.5 hours. That’s amazing. I’m aware of only 1 being cut-off at Crowden (10 last year). That seems to suggest that the runners were more experienced this year, which is very reassuring. From the total entries of 166 (including those that didn’t turn up), 101 were FRA members and 65 were not. Those 65 effectively gave us an extra £260 in entry fees. I’m surprised you don’t join the FRA, it’s good value.
As for the race, it looked like race winner Rob James (Royton) was pushed all the way by last year’s winner Michael Kenyon (Dronfield) as there was only 55 seconds between them at the finish. Despite the conditions, his time of 2:33:23 is very close to Karl Gray’s course record of 2:33:19, but this clearly would not have been a course record if he had been 5 seconds faster since it was a different route (not much shorter, but somewhat easier). It would have been interesting to see what he could have done in decent conditions on the normal route.
In the ladies’ race, Alice Willson’s (Saddleworth) victory by over 7 minutes (3:22:32) over Emma Watts (Dronfield) looks pretty convincing. She didn’t take the lead until she passed Tanya Raab (Unattached) around Holme Moss (checkpoint 1). From that point, her confidence on the descents seems to have helped her extend her lead to the finish. She described the Pennine Way from Laddow as ‘a waterway, and where it met streams, I found myself wading to waist height (I’m only 5’2”) and on one occasion actually swimming. There were strong currents and I was lucky not to get washed downstream’.
She progressed to the finish craving a cup of tea, just like everyone else. It does make me wonder how did the slower runners coped.
No end of praise can be heaped on the marshals and helpers who suffered massively during the race. Some people put in a massive shift supporting this race, not just on the day but from 2 weeks before the race, preparing the course. The runners have been sending me countless emails singing the praise of the marshals. I shall be sending a separate email to marshals.
A decent turnout of 10 harriers braved the elements, with only Andy Shaw failing to complete the course. His partner Blondine Renou (previously a harrier) finished as first FV60 in 4:53:26. Well done, that was an epic achievement.
The men (Richard Anderson, Tim Brook & Phil Hewitt) won the team prize convincingly. There weren’t any ladies’ teams again this year.
Covered Numbers: We had 3 incidents where runners were not recorded through a couple of checkpoints. This meant they were treated as missing (causing us some stress) until they were recorded at subsequent checkpoints. Understandably, runners needed to protect themselves from the weather and don’t want to pin numbers onto expensive waterproofs. However, it’s essential that you display your number clearly when passing a checkpoint. Shouting out the number is not good enough because it gets misheard.
Prizes Not Received: I had to apologise to all the prize winners who didn’t receive a prize, particularly the lady vets (we didn’t have many prize winners in these categories) and a few of the older male vets. Understandably, I was being pressured to do the prize presentation, so that some of the earlier finishers could get home and away from the weather. For this reason, I always do more than 1 prize presentation. Unfortunately, the first presentation had to wait for the first 10 male runners and the first 5 female runners to finish. This was a bit later than I’d hoped.
Then I needed to wait for all the vets category winners to finish. By the time that happened, when I tried to do a second presentation, I could only find one prize winner (Blondine). I think there was about 5 or 6 that missed out. I don’t think there was any better way of dealing with it. I suppose one option would be, after the initial presentation, any runner that thinks they may have won a prize should ask me and if they have, I’ll direct them to go and pick one up without a presentation.
Raffle & Donations: The raffle donations, map sales and catering donations (in aid of the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue) raised a massive £247. When the accounts have been verified, I intend to boost that figure to £500 for HVMRT. Thank you for 28 raffle prizes donated by our club members. About 6 of those were not picked up by the winners, so we are donating them as prizes to the Dennis Stitt Memorial Fell Race on 10th August (also a Holmfirth Harriers promotion).
A massive number of cakes were donated by the club to support the refreshments magnificently organised by Maggie Sykes, Den Kersey & Liz Yewlett. We don’t charge runners for refreshments and we have received a massive amount of praise from the runners for this.
Photos: Sean Doyle (our photographer) posted a large number of photos of the event on Facebook (link here). We have picked a few of his fabulous shots which are captured on this page.
Reusable cups: Any marshal who didn’t receive a reusable cup and wants one, please let me know. There aren’t enough cups left for next year’s race, so we are writing off the cost of the remaining cups and donating them to virtually anyone who wants them (probably other club members). Hence the cost of cups shown in the accounts overstates the real cost of this year’s race and brings the profit down. We try not to make a significant profit. The race is organised for the benefit of the runners and Mountain Rescue.
I hope anyone who participated enjoyed the day. I’m sure it must have provided you with lasting memories. I’ve already received a lot of positive feedback which is food for race organisers.
I hope to see you all next year on 28th July 2024. I’ve ordered our rain dancers to ask for warm and dry weather.
|Equipment & Printing
|Catering Donations (to HVMRT)
|Reusable cups 200 X £2.63
|Map Donations (to HVMRT)
|Cricket club hire
|Raffle Donations (to HVMRT)
|Food & Cleaning
|Bank Fees (Full)