- Hamsterley Forest
- BM / 12.1km / 381m
The DFR Top of the Forest race does pretty much what it says. Starting from the Grove car park the route meanders west then north, climbing steadily to around 427m (1440 feet). The surface is pretty much hard-packed forest drive and upon reflection I think I would’ve been better in road shoes than trail shoes. There are a couple of interesting stretches on footpaths and a jolly bit of descending amongst some tussocky heather, but for the most part, it’s all tracks.
I started at the back of the 30 or so field and passed a couple of runners in the first few hundred yards. Then a few minutes later I passed someone else. Then, well, that was about it. The remainder of the 8.5 mile course was a pretty lonely affair. I nearly caught someone just before the top but he deftly stayed away by the clever ploy of having very long legs, which he unfolded at the top and disappeared John-Cleese-like leaving me on my own again. I finished fourth (last) in a time of 76:10 – a result I was pretty happy with, and I believe Will Horsley was around somewhere (near the front). I was cheered on into the finish by Tom Reeves who suddenly appeared slightly surreally on a bicycle. The prize (a can of Caffreys) appeared to be very democratically awarded to all runners regardless of ability, a decision I have absolutely no problem with, and believe all race prizes should operate this way.
There was a certain satisfaction in the steady climb and feeling of being at the top of the forest but for me the handicap course is far more interesting. I mean, there wasn’t even any mud! How can you call it a fell race if there’s no mud?
Max elevation: 437 m
Min elevation: 187 m
Total climbing: 815 m
Total descent: -805 m
|1||Joe Charles||Clwydian range||M||50:09|