Katie Walshaw maintains her peak form!!

Another weekend and another trip to the beautiful white peak countryside in Derbyshire. This week’s race was the Peak Forest fell race which is a superb introductory race for those wishing to have a go at fell running.

Very much more of a trail race, this is a fast 9.7km route with no real taxing technical elements just the usual 800ft of climb with some very scenic countryside to enjoy!

The start is a quick, a 1km gradual climb road section before peeling off into the fields to begin the climbs in earnest. These aren’t particularly steep but continue for some way all the way up to the top of Eldon Hill so a good test, albeit with some flatter sections thrown in. The descent back down from Eldon Hill to the finish is brilliant.

The race has been established for a long time and in fact the course records of 35.42 for the men by D. Cartridge and 42.15 for the women by C. Greasley date back to 1987 and 1994 respectively. It provides much needed funds for the Grade 2 listed Reading Room set within the village. We were informed that the current organisers of almost 20 years were finishing this year and I think everyone present hoped that new organisers could be found to keep this race running.

The day itself was very pleasant and in fact the sun poked its head out just before the start to really heat things up. A really good call to have a water station at half way.

The trails were firm and fast and with Katie in peak form, a good attempt at that course record was on the cards. The usual flurry at the start saw a group of about ten, including Katie, head away from the rest of the field and into the distance. The climbs took their toll and by the top of Eldon Hill, pictured, Katie’s climbing ability had shone through with only three others in front of her.

The descent was fast and Katie maintained her position for a fantastic fourth overall and 1st lady by over 9 minutes but did she capture that elusive record?

Sadly on this occasion, Katie missed the record by just 47 secs, finishing in 43.02 only to be informed that the lead group had been sent the wrong way at one of the marshalled points which added a further 500m on to the race for them, I am guessing the record would have been in reach had it not been for the extra distance.

As for me, I finished a very respectable 31st out of 121 runners in 48.56, having ran the correct route! The race was a real challenge for me I must admit as I felt a little off, I was hoping to have been further up the field, particularly given that I have very recently finished ahead of some of the racers in front. Will put this one down to experience and look forward to the next challenges this week, the Club 10 on Tuesday and the Ilkley Half Marathon on Sunday!!

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