With the Inter Club fell season 2016 almost upon us and the Red Rose fell championship marching towards its second event on the 30th of April, I got curious as to why these races don’t feature more with our membership as calendar events.
As variety goes there is a plethora of choice each competition year for the race subcommittee to choose from, although this maybe isn’t an issue. So, why are the numbers of Red Rosers so low on the fells? Is it a gender issue?
Basic research informs me that both male and female numbers are pretty even. Browsing through past editions of The Fellrunner (2012-2015) results show an even split of male/female category winners. More specifically within Red Rose it is almost a 60/40 split.
Here are the only results for Red Rose in 3 years’ worth of the quarterly magazine;
• Gt Hameldon – G.Dobie V.50 winner 06/05/2012
• Harrock Hill – Race 2; Joan Gouldthorpe V.60 winner 26/06/2013
• Gt Hameldon – Paula Plowman; V.40 04/05/2014
• Gt Hameldon – Duncan Anderson 7th finisher 43.45. 03/05/2015
Are we not in enough races to win categories or finish positions? Looking at other club results this could be one explanation. Our local neighbour clubs, Preston Harriers and Chorley for example have a heavy presence in the results tables and evidence there may be some validity to this debate.
So, what’s stopping us? Some issues that I pick up at training sessions are around kit, map reading and compass skills, inclement weather just as some examples. Kit, is essential, but always weather dependent and race organisers have discretion on what is to be carried in line with FRA rules. Map reading and compass skills are always a benefit. But, a more important question to ask yourself is – have you read the race information on the website? Is the race full/part navigation? Partially marked? This shouldn’t put any budding fell runner off having a go! Pair up with a runner who has map reading skills and learn on the go! Or, stick with a group and run harder! Even better is to have a recce run before race day, familiarising yourself with a route has benefits on race day. Where to put your foot down, preserve your legs etc. There are some great companies who organise map reading skill sessions. Browse GOOGLE or check out the FRA website as they run a great catalogue of courses that are subsidised for members but still relatively well priced. Mountain rescue groups also offer 1 or 2 day courses which are also worth investigating if you want to upskill.
Kit is pretty self-explanatory, check the FRA website for their basic requirements and store it in your car for all races and then if there is a sudden weather change on route you are ready to go. Don’t forget the kit is there for your protection – always worth thinking about when you’re spending your hard earned cash!
My gut feeling about the absence of red vests on the fells is that the mystique that surrounds fell racing may be overshadowing members just simply ‘having a go’! Take a look at the race category and the explanations for those categories and what that would mean to you as a runner. Is an AS race out of your scope? What’s a good starter race? All questions that can be answered by some seasoned fell runners within the club, don’t be shy – just ask!
Here’s some basic guidance on category types –
Fell races are graded in accordance to the distance and difficulty as follows;
A category – averaging no less than 250ft for every mile of climb, and no more than 20%of total distance on road
B category – averaging no less than 125ft for every mile of climb, and no more than 30% of total distance on road.
C category – averaging no less than 100ft for every mile of climb, and no more than 40% of total distance on road
Short (s) Under six miles (9.6k) in length
Medium (m) Between six and twelve miles (19.3k) in length
Long (l) More than 12 miles in length
Thus, a race listed as ‘AM’ will be steep but of medium length. Most fixtures will also include a reference to their total distance and elevation – 3m/400′ refers to a three mile race climbing 400ft for example.
Other common abbreviations in the FRA race listings include NS (Navigation skills required), LK (Local knowledge an advantage) and ER (experience required). But just remember – if in doubt contact the organiser beforehand. There will always be a mobile number and/or email address available.
So, come on Red Rose, let’s see the mighty reds out there this season. Let’s fill the clouds with a blanket of red.

Pita x

P.S. We can do nothing about the British weather! 