Grindleford Fell Race Report
“I shall always remember this race for the finish! After- Frank took us on a recce before the AGM I thought the course had the right recipe for a classic short fell race- Despite being in no shape to race and having run the Dearne Way Relay the previous evening, how could I not run.
The pace was fairly swift from the gun with ex-international Roy Bailey making the climb up through the woods to Tegness quarry look very easy- I tried in vain to stay in contact and paid for it dearly, dropping into the thirties as we approached the top of the hill- A sprint across the marshes to the Longshaw estate brought the chasing group back into sight. The boulder sprint down Padley gorge must be more suited to a ballet dancer, in fact some of the runners I passed may have been. A concerted effort along the banks of the Derwent before the plunge pulled back a few more places, but not enough to catch that old goat, Harmer. I wonder what the finish would be like in times of flood!?
E.Torrence, a review of the inaugural event in 1987
Frank Galbraith sadly passed away in February this year, 36 years after organising the first Grindleford Fell Race. It is testament to his name that the race continues to draw a huge field of runners – this year 400 entrant registered in a record 15 minutes, with nearly 100 on the waiting list! What makes it so popular? It’s relatively short, takes in some of the lovely paths that surround the village, but probably most importantly, has two river crossings at Padley, and then at the finish.
This year we were blessed with fine weather not only on the day of the race, but for some time beforehand, meaning firm, dry ground underfoot. With a new and highly energetic carnival committee arranging for a fantastic marquee to be erected in time for use on the night of the race the convivial atmosphere at the Bishop Pavilion surely also helps to not only draw the crowds, but to keep them there after the race with a Critchlow’s BBQ, Thornbridge bar, and music.
Not only is the race popular with locals, but around a year ago the organisers were contacted by a running coach from California who had identified it as a race to focus a reunion of sorts for his ex-charges before they left for colleges around the US. The group of some 15 runners, replete in purple vests from their old club, mainly aged under 23, arrived with their coach on a week-long trip to the UK specifically to take part in the race! Suffice to say they were somewhat blown away by the whole affair and Grindleford now has it’s own special US-UK relationship!
As for the racing, the fine conditions resulted in a clutch of new course records. Most impressive was Dark Peak’s Phillipa Williams who smashed the female open record by nearly 3 minutes to finish 3rd overall in a time of 33:37! Also broken were the men’s open by Tom Saville (31:52 despite 2nd placed Bertie Houghton accidentally making a wrong turn whilst comfortably leading the race not far from the finish), male under 23 by Euan Patton (36:45), male vet 40 by Oli Johnson (33:52), male vet 60 by Colin Earl (39:54), male vet 70 by Ken Jones (56:54), female U23 by Triya Roy (41:25) and finally female vet 50 by Julia Wilson (43:52). Will there ever be such a race with so many records broken? Frank would have been delighted!
As ever, a huge thank you to the team of marshals who make the event possible, to the Carnival Committee and the Grindleford Playing Field Committee, as well as to Mattie and Jamie from Critchlow’s and Ben and Kelly from Thorn bridge for their continued support.