Fell runners are spoilt in Sheffield, with countless great trails leading through the nearby hills. There's no better way of discovering these trails than by entering one of the fell races that take place in the Peak District this spring – they're like guided tours of the most interesting areas for runners.
Although there are some seriously fast competitive fell runners (take Helen Elmore, for instance), you don’t have to be a mountain goat to enter. Many races are community events with a friendly atmosphere – and with homemade cakes waiting at the finish line.
If you're thinking of entering a fell race but need a little more encouragement than cake, here are a few pointers to help you prepare for a race in time for spring:
- Remember, fell running is different to road running. You might be running on uneven, rocky trails, through boggy or marshy ground, and you'll certainly be heading up and down some very steep hills. Make sure you have appropriate running shoes.
- Join a Sheffield running club or take part in group runs, like Front Runner's fortnightly trail runs, to get regular practice in.
- Shorter races on summer evenings are good ways to gain experience on different terrain and work on your technique.
- The Grindleford Fell Race in June is a great first race. It's short (4.5 miles) and doesn’t require any local knowledge or navigational skills. Another great introduction is the Trunce series – a 3.8 mile route, run 9 times a year starting in April. For more, see our local race roundup.
- The best way to get a feel for what’s involved in a fell race is to go out and have a look, and many races have their own website with a route map. Running clubs and local shops will often organise recces, and knowing the route in advance will build your confidence on the day.
- Totley AC organises the Totley Race Series, which ranges in length and difficulty and that spread from January to September, while Accelerate organises the Gritstone Series. You might not want to run all the races, but organised training runs are a good place to meet people to train with, or friendly faces to look for at a race.
- Most importantly: enjoy it! It’s normal to feel nervous before a race, but you're guaranteed to experience some of the best running in the Peak District.