Sunday, 26 August 2012

Grasmere Senior Guides Race

For those who do not know the history of this race, let me enlighten you. It was the first girl guide-only race and was run solely by girl guides from 1903 until 1971, when cub scouts were also permitted. However, it reverted to its original format 3 years later after some nasty name calling near the summit.

In the late nineties, it became very popular as a fell race, and many grown men would enter it in disguise. Although it cannot be verified, several eye witnesses believe "Isobella Smith" was actually Ian Holmes in a brown skirt, when "she" won by over 8 minutes from "her" nearest competitor (13-year-old Georgina Phillips) in 1997.

By 2001, the guide-only format was abandoned and both adults and non-guides were allowed to enter the race. This was met with by fierce opposition both from traditionalist corners of the guiding community, who saw it as political correctness gone mad; and by several notable fell runners, who said they would miss the opportunity of cross-dressing. Since then, however it has established itself as one of the best fell races in the calendar.*

The 1958 winners

Mrs Noel has done this twice before and had come second both times. Luckily, Pippa Maddams wasn't there this year, but Sharron Taylor was, to take first place. Mrs Noel was second yet again, and was first lady vet 40.

It was my first time to run this race. Although I had my sights set on outright victory, several notable fell runners turned up, as did several reasonable club fell runners, and probably a few fit locals. These combined to narrowly edge me into 26th place, a mere 3 minutes behind the winner. But I was very pleased and have my sights set on top-20 glory next time.

*Some of the above might not be completely true