Saddleworth Round 2019

Sunday 4th August saw the Saddleworth Round. It’s a B category Long and in non-fell runner parlance is 16.5 miles long, with over 3,000 feet of climb over the moors of Saddleworth.

Start - very humid

The runners set of from the junction of Running Hill Lane/Running Hill Gate above Uppermill and Diggle, with the Cross Keys Pub acting as race HQ. A wonderful location in what was hot and humid weather.

The runners set off and aim initially for Broadstone Trig, then across to Pots and Pans, down Alderman to Binn Green car park, across the dam between Dove Stone and Yeoman Hey Reservoirs and up Ashway Gap. On the edges the runners head for Fox Stone and drop from there to the base of Indian’s Head aiming for Chew Reservoir road. At Chew Reservoir runners head for Laddow Rocks, then Black Hill, following the old Pennine Way to Holmfirth Road which is crossed to then pick up the Cotton Famine Road to head back via Broadstone Trig and the pub for a finish.

James Sheard was Race Organiser for the day and did a sterling job, pulling all on the day together into a cohesive whole. Prior to the day he’d been a Whirling Dervish of activity, for example heading out at the crack of dawn to flag the route and place the two Racetek units at CP2 and 3.

James Sheard (left) and John Charles Heathcote

I myself (with wifey) was responsible for the registration and results and a little nervous as we did not have Fabian 4 (the wonderful Ellie and Adrian) on site to supervise. I arrived early to be greeted by the even earlier Andy Essex and so we began arranging furniture at the barn next to the pub where Oldham Mountain Rescue are based. Others arrived and all mucked in, with big thanks to Jed Finnigan, Andy Essex, Jill Davies, and Claire Cobley. All went smoothly indeed, and by 10.45am we drove up to the start armed with two Racetek units to allow us to count the runners.

Off they went with success and the Racetek system recording all. Phew. Before an hour was out we counted the runners through CP2 at Ashway Gap, by Fox Stone CP3 we counted 24 runners but not the other 45 - a failure. On picking up the unit after the race we discovered it was off, so could only surmise that a runner had possible accidentally switched the unit off. For future races we intend using a plastic housing over the unit to thus avoid any unfortunate screen or button presses. We are not completely sure, but nonetheless we knew all runners were out, 69 in total. One runner did retire.

It was tough conditions in my opinion due to the heat and humidity, but that did not stop the race record being broken by our very own Chris Phillips of the Saddleworth Runners, who was first runner back with a cracking time of 2 hours 26 minutes and 5 seconds.

Chris Phillips descending Alderman

On the women’s side Bridget Lancashire and her sister Martha Tibbot did the club proud by coming in as first and second ladies.

Bridget and Martha climbing out of Chew Brook

Finish funnel team

In the meantime as the runners ran, we built the finish funnel and waited. When the first runner and subsequent ones went through we noticed all were recorded successfully via the system with results displayed on a monitor. Relieved and pleased, it was a good result, which the runners liked - easy to see times. As people came in the pub started to organise the chip butties whilst runners drank beer and cleaned themselves off via an outside tap. People milled in the outside area.

It was a successful and much enjoyed run by the runners, organisers, spectators, and bystanders who happened to come across the race.

After packing up, Claire and I headed home to change into running gear to then head out with Ted the Terrier to get the Racetek units from CP2 and 3, also collecting flags en route. A beautiful evening in which to finish off.