There were many personal positives arising out of the Curbar Commotion this last weekend, all of which point towards some tangible progress over the last few months. I ran solidly for an hour and four minutes and placed well, given the fast field at the front and my focus on longer slower runs in training. Cutting loose and pushing my body hard made for a nice change, and I felt competitive.
But as ever with these types of races, there is a sense of something larger at play. A community of like minded souls gathered together at the foot of one of our mighty gritstone edges, united in a common purpose and a shared love of this pursuit. Defying the gloomy forecast of cold and drizzle, the skies broke and blanketed us with glorious sunshine, a warm breeze allowing for just the bare minimum of accessories, heightening the sensation of freedom.
The terrain was mixed, a steady start across fields gave way to singletrack and shaded forested paths before the climb rose all the way up on to Froggatt Edge. Raising a head to take in the view was costly but worthwhile. We diverted up to White Edge trig before the fast descent across to Baslow along wider, easier tracks. Careering down the side of the edge at breakneck pace before a cruel, sharp turn upwards again on tarmac this time, and then back off road over the roll of the final pastures above Curbar. Honesty compels me to admit that at this point my grasp on my race slipped a little and the last mile or so before the final descent was hard work. Nonetheless I crossed the line strongly, and very pleased with my effort overall.
An hour of comradery in competition. That peculiar blend of wanting to beat everybody out there whilst wanting them all to do well at the same time. Somebody falls, they are hauled back up to their feet. Somebody’s pace slackens, and we offer brief, gasped words of encouragement, aid for ailing spirits. We challenge each other but most importantly we challenge ourselves, not to win but to be better.
Nicola was waiting for me at the finish, and we spent some time catching up with old friends and waiting for our weekend guest, Robert Gaddie of Ashmei, to close out the race. Happily he ran a very solid round for his first fell race, and we were able to send him back down to Aldbury the next day intact and in one piece. His smile at the end was enough to confirm that he had tapped in to that fundamental essence of the sport, and in doing so, was now a fellrunner too.
I love these hills, this place, and this sport.
Curbar Commotion Fell Race – The watch clocked 9.01 miles, 1460ft ascent, 25th/254 runners in 1:04:xx
Kit: Ashmei Race Vest, Inov-8 Race Elite Shorts, Stance Socks, Suunto Ambit Peak 3 with HR belt
Shoes: Inov-8 X-Talon 190