Tigger Tor - Alex's first fell race
Tigger Tor 2019 - Alex's account of his first fell race
Sheffield is the first place I’ve lived where fell running is a serious deal, and working alongside Steve got me curious about it. Tigger Tor is a classic race and the first of the Totley AC series so I thought it was a good start, however most of the Front Runner customers told me it’s a difficult one to start with! It’s a 9.7 mile race up onto the moor, through some bogs, taking in a few peaks, then finishing with a mile on the road. It’s a checkpoint race too so there isn’t a set route as long as you take in the checkpoints. That style of race was another first for me so I made sure to recce the route, although when I did it was quite snowy underfoot and foggy too so I didn’t learn too much.
I tried to get as much information as possible before the event and I was told there was a bottleneck at the start where there are a couple of gates to get through and a narrow trod (little path) for around 2km. I deliberately got myself stuck so that I wouldn’t go off too fast - that’s usually my problem in races and as this race was quite hard and quite long I didn’t want that to happen.
I thought I had a good spot in mind to drop off of Burbage Edge, but on the day found myself following people instead. The downhills were a lot of fun in my new VJ Sport XTRMs with their trustworthy grip and they drained quickly after I sploshed through the little stream in the Burbage Valley. The climb up to Higger Tor was tough and a relief to see others walking up the steep slope too. It’s an unusual feeling in a race but I’ve learned that walking is fine sometimes and I actually took a place or two on the top section.
Normally, I’m a bit wary if I take places early in a race because that means I’ve picked up the pace too early but on this occasion I felt like I was running within myself and was happy that those I passed didn’t come by later on. Since I had had such a good time descending earlier in the race I had another go on the rocky descent off Winyard’s Nick. This time it was a bit more technical and I went over on my left ankle but didn’t feel any pain so I kept pushing and the grassy bit was way more fun.
Next was the cruel out and back climb up to Carl Wark. After flying down the previous descent I felt like it was a huge change of pace and I tried not to push it too hard. I knew there was still quite a long way left in the race. But I took another place or two and again flew down the descent back to the stream and jumped across on the rocks. At this point I was feeling great because I’d managed to drop the people that I was worried would come back past me and I didn’t like I was going to falter like I have done before - I think trapping myself at the start was a good move!
I pushed on up the steep side of the valley after the river and then I had a choice to make. Most people choose to run along the trod to the next checkpoint but I knew the other way along the Edge much better, and I thought it was going to be easier running too with less bog. But having never done a race like this before, when it came down to it, I just followed the people in front of me. That way I had someone to chase and I could pace my effort much better, but I do think I would have avoided some bog and after the race I found out that Steve went along the Edge so maybe I should have trusted myself...
Running across the top of the moor along a wet, boggy, narrow trod in the wind was really tough, especially towards the end of a race when I was trying to keep up with someone and not get passed. I held on up to the top of Houndkirk Hill and then came my best move of the race. At the little stream after the steep decent I jumped straight across and scrambled up in the mud pulling at the grass to overtake two runners who went all the way down to the water. It felt really smooth at the time and I felt a bit smug until I wore myself out on the claggy soil before I got back to the little bridge on Houndkirk Road.
Going back down the way we came up an hour or so before felt really good and knowing I could try and really push it to the finish. But that was the hardest bit! The road section at the end was brutal. Storming down Long Line I almost ran a 1km PB and I still got overtaken by three people. After running so fast down the road, the marshy field at the end was hard on the legs but at that point you just have to give it everything you’ve got.
In the end I came 75th which I am really pleased with after saying that I would be happy with a top half finish considering I didn’t know what to expect. My favourite parts were descending off Burbage Edge and Winyard’s Nick... actually all the descents except Long Line!
Afterwards it was great to catch up with everyone and it was nice recognising a few faces from the shop. Totley AC made it a nice atmosphere and I found everyone very friendly so I will definitely try to do the rest of the series. Overall it was a great first fell running experience!