Trans-Pennine Relay 2023 and the Holy (not literally) Socks
What is it?
A relay race from Sheffield town hall to the Boars Head pub in Poynton via 5 legs of approx 1 hour each.
Each team stays together during the race except the runner running their leg.
When was it?
Saturday 4th March 2023 from 10am to 4pm approx.
12 teams of 5 runners
10 pairs of socks shared between the winning elite mens and womens teams
53km / 33mi of running/walking/scrambling
1900m / 6200ft of ascent
…..did I say 10 pairs of socks?
Clubs participating (number of teams)
Dark Peak (1)
Elite Team Macc Morning Glory
James Starkey (leg 1)
Craig Marchington (leg 2, driver, podcaster and protagonist of winning the socks)
Jon Hopper (leg 3)
Andy Beavers (leg 4)
Oscar Trevena (leg 5 and backup driver – don’t ask about the gears…)
Elite Team Macc Moon Flower
Rachael Lawrence (leg 1, backup driver, and flapjack race prep)
Kathleen O’Donnell (leg 2)
Laura Telford (leg 3)
Rebecca Till (leg 4 and driver)
Angela Drakeford (leg 5)
Unofficial Elite (in our own way) Team Macc Monks Hood
Bernard McCarron (leg 1)
Rob Gittins (leg 2 and driver)
Gary Rogerson (leg 3, backup driver)
Dan Gill (leg 4)
James MacDonald (leg 5)
Captain and Support
Lots of helpful info from Tom and past runners of the event. A brilliant podcast from Craig and plenty of banter about bringing home the socks.
8am at the Boars Head and the pub was closed. Perhaps it was a little early to start celebrating…? All three teams were present and correct, some introductions, runners packed into the team vehicles and we were off! Oh, and I guessed Craig was Craig before he introduced himself because he carries the same bouncy aura like Tigger! One hour later we were in Sheffield and enjoying a pre-race coffee in Café Nero and a visit to the loo, not necessarily in that order. In fact the queue for the loo was much shorter so I switched to that and re-joined a nearly non-existent queue for coffee. That felt like the first win of the day. Ten minutes to go, we wandered down to the town hall, of course the 1st leg runners had already left to do their warm up. This was the first time we could eye the opposition and start the banter. Photographs aplenty and the countdown was on! The bells chimed and they were off! Good timing, because 2 minutes later we were nearly in the middle of a large group of drunk football supporters(?) and several police vans and lots of police. Come on lads, it is 10am…ah, that is why the Boars Head was closed at 8am.
Quick pic on the steps of the town hall, then as instructed, at 10:00, on the toll of the bell 🛎, we were off ! 🏃♀️ 🏃♂️..
As I watched my fellow Harriers James and then Rachael (and Pennine/ Dark Peak) disappear into the distance, I huffed and puffed out of the city centre.. Theres not much more I can say about Leg 1.. other than it heads West out of the city centre , with only the occasional fork in the road as an opportunity to get the route wrong.. tho if in doubt, it’s the road going uphill.. after 6.9 miles / 1100 ft ascent (all tarmac), I finally arrived at Redmires Reservoir to hand over to a very patient, and now the third of three Harriers, Rob Gittins..
Unlike the other legs, we were able to see the progress of the runners as we headed up the main road to meet them at the leg 2 changeover. There was a clear front three runners, led by the elite Pennine team, KFR and James from our men’s elite team in 3rd. The other runners were doing their best to play catch-up on a tough leg involving busy road crossings and a near constant ascent. The handovers at the Redmires reservoir went smoothly and the leg 2 runners were off and off-road! This was the last time we eyed some of the teams as the gaps widened, we missed each other at the leg interchanges, which actually helped with the parking anyway as some of the areas were compact. There was some very nifty n-point turns in the vehicles, shout out to Gary! Leg 2 was an interesting route that drops down to the Derwent Valley before a relentless climb up Win Hill, nearly 300 meters over 1 km!! I’m tired just writing that. Fortunately, what comes up, must come down, and there followed a steep descent to the start of leg 3.
Leg 3 runners did not have an auspicious start, another relentless climb, this time up Lose Hill, before running along the ridge to Hollins Cross and down the side of Mam Tor, hopefully missing the majority of the hoards of hikers out at the weekend. The final part took them along Rushup Edge to the penultimate leg. Laura and Gary had a great battle on this leg and we were fortunate to view this from some distance. Leg 4 which resembles a rollercoaster, takes the runners out to Chinley Head before descending into Furness Vale to await the final leg, the glory leg. I was fortunate to have this leg, and having waited since 10am, I was finally off around 2:15 thanks to Dan storming into the handover. The final flourish is basically a climb up to Lyme Park, over the wall and then a descent to the finish. As I was 2km into the run, I was telling myself that I should have listened to the be bold and go cold. The base layer was proving to be unnecessary. Unfortunately, removing it as this stage would result in my arrest and more importantly, wasted time. Once over the wall, it was easy street, a tricky descent, but heh it is downhill, what is not to like? Go around the bog, or through it…? Hmmm, I took the racing line and went through it. Ok, only trainer deep, just about got away with that. The final 2km I could do in my sleep, 3 cattle grids, the bridge, then around the corner and the pub!
So, was it all about the Holy Socks?
Well we didn’t walk away with any new socks, but we did walk away with smiles on our faces. It was a great experience, a unique event and great camaraderie. Congratulations must go to the elite men’s and women’s Pennine teams. However, we will be gunning for those socks next year. Craig has already started training and the next podcast is surely on its way…?
Final Results (selection)
Pennine Pine Trees (1st) in 3:52:45 Holy Socks winners!
Morning Glory (3rd) in 4:15:11
Monks Hood (8th) in 5:02:30
Pennine Peonies (9th) in 5:08:50 (1st women’s) Holy Socks winners!
Moon Flower (10th) in 5:29:20 (2nd women’s)
Bramhall Bloomers (12th) in 6:52:00
Authors: James MacDonald & Bernard McCarron