“Difficult high-level moorland terrain and a strong likelihood of severe weather conditions make this race a serious winter challenge, requiring previous similar fell running experience"
On Sunday 2nd February, KADS runners Dave Taylor and Dale Mellor donned the mighty Maroon and Silver, laced up the fell running shoes and joined 186 fellow hardy runners to encounter the challenging Mickleden Straddle Fell race. The event is a 14.3 mile / 2431ft category BL fell race hosted by Denby Dale RC, taking place from Langsett Barn on the outskirts of the Peak District, but was only an hour’s drive away!
Due to the nature of the event and unpredictable weather conditions mandatory FRA kit was required (waterproof whole body cover (with taped seams and integrated attached hood), hat, gloves, map, compass, whistle & emergency food) and was rigorously checked before race numbers were given out. Such were the rules that on the day approx. 20 runners were turned away for not having the required kit.
After a summer of gently dipping their toes in to the world of Fell races, this was the first Cat ‘L’ for both runners.
Following the race briefing, where once again the mandatory kit requirements were reiterated and even spot checks threatened, we were set off on a gentle woodland track on the outskirts of Langsett Reservoir, this soon turned to a downhill squelch through the woods, then a cobbled crossing of the “little don river”. This provided a pleasant ‘run in’ before the fun really started. What then followed was a steady ascent on a good track up to the first check point (CP1), which we had to reach within the hour in order to continue further. After CP1 a taste of the moorland terrain was provided with some peat bog crossing, before a fast descent to Howden Reservoir and a few km’s respite along the shelter of the trees before being marshalled back up through the woods and a return ‘the moor’. What then ensued was a traverse across heavily rain soaked peat moorland that made Shipley Park XC look like a bowling green. Curses could be heard from many a runner as they succumb to that bit of ground that, on first glance, looked solid but soon had you up to your knees in peat. Eventually the next check point was reached and the return descent back to Langsett. The path by this time had gained a couple of inches of water, which allowed the peat to be washed away like it never existed!
On return to Langsett members of Denby Dale RC swiftly removed our race numbers and presented us with a bottle of ale. Back in the barn we were greeted to the best post event spread of food we have ever seen; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, soup and an endless variety of vegan friendly sandwiches, cobs, cakes, flapjacks made sure we were suitably fed before the journey home.
In terms of value for money, at a mere £9 entry the Mickleden Straddle did not disappoint. With funds going to support the Local Mountain Rescue, who provided assistance at all checkpoints, this is certainly a race to revisit. Both KADS acquitted themselves well on the day in what were said to be more difficult conditions than the previous year. This however did not prevent the female record being broken.