This is only the second year of the Litton Christmas Cracker, but Tideswell Running Club has created a race with all the ingredients of a classic, and it sold out well before the day.
Starting and ending on the village green in the Peak District village of Tideswell, the route has a bit of everything. There are plenty of steep sections, both up and down, connected by some fast trails and vast quantities of mud.
A unique feature of this race is the flooded river section where a good stretch of the path is submerged through Miller’s Dale and Water-cum-Jolly. This year was deeper and muddier than ever before, involving a long and unavoidable section of splashing and wading.
Emerging from the river with slightly numb legs, the next challenge is to reach the trig point at Wardlow by the fastest route possible. This year the path was abandoned and we took the direct route, involving hands-on scrambling up a steep grassy bank. On reflection that might not have been the fastest option, but it was fun.
The rules say you have to run round the trig, which tried to look cheerful in the mist with a lovely Christmas tree balanced on its top. The next section is enjoyable and fairly technical downhill on fantastic trails combining wet grass and mud, and exposed limestone paths. A chance to get some speed up, if you dare, and Santa was on hand to reward runners who’ve been good this year with gifts of jelly babies at the final river crossing.
Back in Tideswell, local non-runners were out to give encouragement as we crossed the finish line. The race feels really inclusive with a great community spirit and fun atmosphere, a barbecue, and raffle prizes of generous amounts of homemade cake.
Overall I find this quite a challenging race, but thoroughly enjoyable. As the race organisers say “…If fell running was easy they would call it football.”
Thank you for hosting us Litton, see you next Christmas for another Cracker…