The Stoop – Club Race 15

Members might well recall this was the “members’ choice” race nominated at the AGM, though it wasn’t our biggest turnout of the year.

The challenge of getting up on Sunday morning after a Christmas party seems to have defeated some of the intending players. (Was one of them actually still partying?).

It is not the first time that we have done a late-season fell race; I remember a YVAA race around Ovenden Moor – not that far away from Haworth – a few years ago, and Mike Sellars having to retrieve one of his shoes from a bog somewhere near the windfarm.

However, I think this is the first time I have started a race in a disused quarry, with the assembled masses being addressed by the Chief Penguin before the “off”. Principal rule was that Santa hats were obligatory. Fell races are measured not just in overall distance but in altitude. As far as I can tell, they need two basic techniques; try to keep going on the way up, and try not to fall on the way down, though in both instances you are never quite sure of what your foot is going to land in. Or how deep it will be.

I failed the downhill test. Just as I was starting to enjoy things, I was suddenly on my back sliding downhill rapidly. And slowly rotating, so while I began sliding feet first, I ended up going head first. This meant that I had to roll over and spin round, to get into a position where I could stand up. So I was now liberally coated in the Pennines’ finest wet peat, and I had had a mouthful of it as well. It tastes salty, by the way. The second fall, when something that looked ankle deep was actually half-way up my shin, was less spectacular, but less surprising.

At least for the moment I felt proud that while I was trailing in position of the STAC contingent I had got the best coating of mud; my hat was almost as mucky as my shoes. Then I reached the finish to find David Morley had tried ploughing a patch of moorland with his shoulder, while Phil Coop had excelled with three falls, one of which was when he completely failed to negotiate the stream crossing. And later David Mellor told me he had fallen about ten times. So I was neither the muddiest nor had the most tumbles.

Somewhere on the way out we had lost a Father Christmas disguised as James May. And the last I saw of Malcolm Lavery, in the finish area, he was looking rather worried as to where Lesley had got to; I believe she did get round! I think everyone else survived, and had the sense to go home and get warm.

All completely bonkers! I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I am now aching in all sorts of places that shouldn’t be affected by running! Can we do a fell race in 2016, please?

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