The next few days will see three very special races take place, as fell-sprinters sharpen their studs for the Burnsall Classic, Grasmere and Kilnsey Show races in what is known as the classic treble in fell running circles…
Within the British fell running scene are the summer shows. Many of the classic short fell races that exist in the north of England are linked to (or at least once were) shows and sports days, some of them hundreds of years old. Similarly with hill racing in Scotland and Wales. But of course some races are more prestigious than others and there exists the ‘treble’.
First-up tomorrow (Saturday) is the Burnsall Classic. 1.5 miles long, with a climb of 900ft. So that will be 900ft of climb in three quarters of a mile then? Amazing. And then – probably top of the shop of these fell-classics – comes the Grasmere Senior Guides race, which follows on Sunday.
This race is part of fell running folk-lore and the respect it commands from the fraternity can be seen in the start list that it generates every year. Hundreds line-up for the 1.5 mile race (900ft ascent) over Gray Crags, and the role call of winners is packed with fell running legends from across the decades of the last century and beyond. The course record of 12:21 belongs to a certain Fred Reeves and those in the know say it may never be beaten, we shall see.
And lastly on Tuesday (27 August) it’s the notoriously treacherous (and a mere 113 editions old!) Kilnsey Show Crag Race. Another blast up and down to a height of 1000ft in the space of one mile, requiring the winner to remove any doubt or fear on the descent and come down the Chimney – see what I mean here.
So, if you want to really get that ‘show’ feel this next few days and – in a world of commercialism – return yourself to the true essence of sport and the understated fell race, you could do worse than head to the Lakes and open up your lungs to the classic treble.