I’m all for the big city races. The fast, flat courses on closed roads, where the drinks stations are well-stocked with bottled drinks, you get a nice technical shirt and medal at the end, and leave with a bulging goody bag. However, whilst these races are great for a PB, I firmly believe they are less than great for the soul, and sometimes, an unconventional race is just what is needed.
When a friend invited me to do the Dentdale Run with him, my first reaction was ‘Sure! Looks beautiful!’. Then I checked the elevation and almost had a heart attack. My pampered, flat racing legs categorically did not fancy the beastly-looking hills of Dent. Still, the promise of a cheap entry (£11 affiliated, £13 unaffiliated), beautiful scenery and homemade cake at the end made me keen to check it out.
I’d be lying if I said the Dentdale Run was an easy race, but it has character and beauty in spades. Unlike a big city race, where you get the distinct feeling you’re being a massive nuisance by closing roads and loitering around, the beautiful village of Dent seemed extremely proud of this race. From the Race HQ in the local primary school to the locals manning water stations outside their houses and letting runners use their bathrooms, there was the distinct feeling we were all in it together.
At the sharp end of this testing 14.3 mile course, some extremely quick times were run, and generous prizes awarded, but if like me, you turned up for a long training run and wanted to combine it with an amble around some gorgeous countryside and a weekend away, taking your foot off the gas didn’t feel wrong like it would in other races. Runners stopped at water stations to drink, take in the view and chat to locals. The most testing hills reduced those of us lily-livered city racers to a walk, but it didn’t matter.
The course was all on well-surfaced roads, taking us on a figure of eight out of one side of Dent (nestled in the Howgills, on the border between Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales) and back in the other, and all profit from entries goes towards the local primary school/race HQ, which is also where the best part of the race was- plentiful hot tea and homemade cake and scones afterwards, included in our race entry.
The village of Dent is extremely proud of this fantastic race, and rightfully so- approximately as proud as you’ll be when you finish this testing course!