Fell Handicap, a brief history
The Xmas Fell Handicap began in 1985 as a fun variant on our regular Sunday morning fell runs. Start & finish were in the top Tegg’s Nose car park (the coldest place on earth) where we enjoyed a brew & mince pies in what was then an open sided shelter.
In the early days, with only a dozen or so runners I was able to run, but as numbers increased I stopped taking part around the turn of the century.
The original route was similar to today`s, though a little shorter, running alongside Lamaload on the road & not visiting the sweetie tree. Initially we ran anticlockwise until one icy morning most of the field hit the deck(3 of us in a pile) descending Cumberland Cutt & it was lucky no-one got hurt. Since then we`ve taken this rocky bit uphill.
The 1st major route change was to put in the sweetie tree to get some true rough stuff in as various paths were ruined (sorry improved) on the rest of the route. Then we got to know Rona & moved the venue to her café at Common Barn, lengthening the route, adding some climb, but with the huge benefit of warmth, shelter & post-run grub.
More recently we moved to the St Dunstan`s, where we`ve been made very welcome & with the added benefit of more substantial food & a decent pint available.
Over the years we`ve only once had to postpone (due to deep snow, although a few folk made it to Common Barn for a run anyway) & of course cancel last year (2020 – COVID).
Sadly, times have changed & nowadays we have warning signs on the roads, numbers, marshals & kit checks, all unheard of in the early days.
You can see from the results sheet that over the years I`ve managed to get lots of people of varying ability in the frame. One year early on I remember climbing Tegg’s at the end with the whole field in sight on the climb.
A lot of folk have been regulars, though most of us who ran the early races (in our 40s already remember) can no longer do the distance. An exception is Mark McDermott who ran in the 2nd edition & was still out in 2019. Colin Ardron & Andy Addis ran from the start & were still at it until a few years ago, Andy did something like30 years in succession, including 1 year the day after he`d run a muddy 50 mile Round Rotherham race!
We’ve had bigger numbers than ever on recent runs, so while there`s demand & I can get the help needed we`ll keep this venerable institution going, if only for because I enjoy the pleas & bribes in search of better handicaps.