Eccles Pike Fell Race review

Having done precious little writing until recently I’ve now hit a period of races in quick succession. And whilst there are a number of other things I keep planning on writing about, I might as well keep planning those and tell you about the Eccles Pike Fell Race which I ran in this week.

Eccles Pike Fell Race

Unlike most of the other fell races I’ve done this year, Eccles Pike isn’t in the Hayfield Championship. In fact it’s not even in Hayfield. Starting and finishing in Buxworth, this 3.4 mile race is effectively a straight up and down of Eccles Pike. Apparently a very historic fell race dating back at least 100 years.

Indeed there is quite a history detailed about the race on the current incumbent (Goyt Valley Striders) website. Despite being cancelled for a couple of years in the 1970s due to lack of entrants, 2018 saw over 170 finishers. Marple Runners, whom I run with, had included the race in their championship and as such Buxworth was overrun by menacers. Some popping their fell-running cherry and others returning to beat their previous times.

This is how you know if your running event has been menaced:

Marple Runners at Eccles Pike Fell Race

Marple Runners at Eccles Pike Fell Race

And as there are a few of my own running group (LymeRunners) who are also members of GVS, there was also a whole amount of ‘hello, what are you doing here?’ going on as well.

Eccles Pike route

Here’s the profile of the course. To be honest I grabbed this image from another user’s strava profile as the one from mine looked as if it had been made out of chocolate and subsequently left near a radiator. If you click through the picture you’ll see what I mean:

Eccles Pike fell race profile

Eccles Pike fell race profile

Now you can’t see if on that screenshot, but one thing did puzzle me after the race. You see the race is listed as a Cat AS race and according to the GVS information, had a climb of 1000ft. Yet looking at countless strava profiles, the climb seemed to be only (!!!) 700ft which I found a little odd.

The history does talk about the route having been changed at a number of points in the past so whether the 1000ft figure relates to an old route, I’m not sure. But it was something I thought was interesting to note.

My race

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my fitness level isn’t as high as it has been and I must say I felt it as we started off on the race. The route starts in a field behind the Navigation Inn before looping around the pub via the road, through the car park and then off over the fields into Buxworth. The climb starts early on and has two steeper sections with a short uphill section in between.

By the time I got to the start of the second steep section which is the final push to the top, the race leader flew past on his way down, a good number of seconds ahead of second place. For the rest of us it was a hard plod to the top of the Pike. I’m told there were great views, but sadly I forgot to look!

Eccles Pike Fell Race - on top of the PIke

Eccles Pike Fell Race – on top of the PIke

The downhill was almost the reverse of the climb although the very top section around the Pike was a small loop. The downhill itself was quick and not too technical. Despite this I managed to make quite the meal of the descent whilst simultaneously chastising myself for holding back. At least this week I had my glasses with me and could see what I was doing! To be fair, the places I lost to others on the start of the descent I more than took back in the latter part. But it would be nice to ‘just do it’ and hopefully not end up spending the evening in A&E as a result.

My official time of 31.55 placed me 57th overall. Not a bad first effort at the Eccles Pike Fell Race but with some training on both fitness and working on the downhills plenty of room for improvement.

I’m back in action again next Wednesday at a brand new trail race, so I’ll be reporting back on how that goes in due course!

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