Chevy Chase, 2nd July 2022
Thanks to Richard Slack for this excellent report on the 65th Chevy Chase Fell Race. Well done to all who completed this challenging event:
A fantastic 20 mile fell race with around 4,000 foot of ascent in the Cheviots, dominated by The Cheviot and Hedgehope Hill. For 2022, a small but merry band met up at the registration at Wooler Youth Hostel. This year’s Claremont collective was Richard, Maria, Dave L, Jamie and Sonam. Sonam making his Chevy debut and Jamie running his tenth Chevy. The latter is important as, following Claremont folklore, with ten completed Chevys you join legendary status! Sadly Kris (who debuted in 2021) was forced to miss the run this year due to post-Covid recovery.
The Chevy is a lollypop route with the first and last 2.5 miles or so from the Youth Hostel and out over Wooler Common before reaching Carey Burn. From there the route heads out, summiting Cheviot 2,676 feet/815m. Sadly, and a feature of fell racing you agonisingly lose a good bit of that height dropping all the way down to Harthope Burn before ascending up again on the other side of the Burn to Hedgehope Hill 2,348 feet/714m. Thereafter a steep descent before returning over Langlee Crags and Brands Corner (by Brands Hill) to the Carey Burn after the infamous Hell Path before following the outward route back to Wooler.
We were warned at the start that the weather on the Cheviot might be pretty rough with strong winds, mist and rain. However, the race itself starting from the road towards Wooler Common, commenced under blue skies but with ominous black clouds gathering in the distance. Not to disappoint, the skies produced a deluge of rain and hail on the ascent to Cheviot. Well done to the marshals at the Cheviot summit checkpoint, and throughout along with the Mountain Team for this superbly organised race. Sonam by now was well ahead of the Claremont peloton with the four of us pretty much together as we had been in 2021. Maria showed us the Claremont backside downhill shuffle technique coming off Cheviot – pretty effective as we all tried to negotiate the steep grassy decent after the rain! After the rain, the wind blew to bring in a lovely rest of the run with high cloud and blue skies. However, despite the nicer weather, the descent of Hedgehope is worse in many ways that that off Cheviot. After 10miles your legs are tired and do not want a long steep downhill. Dave and I remember well the calf and thigh cramps after running down this on our debut to then miss out on easy running on the latter part of the race. We learn! So, this year it was slow and steady on the way down to more effectively manage the race. By and large this paid off with strong running by all of us in the closing stages to Brands Corner and later the route back into Wooler.
So around 5 hours after we set off (just over 4 hours for Sonam with an impressive debut time) we all arrived back at The Youth Hostel finish. Delighted that Jamie achieved his 10th run this year for legendary status, made all the more sweeter by probably being the only ever finisher (2015 Chevy) without shoes! (see Claremont 2015 report). Well done Jamie! Not many races finish with fresh cooked chips and showers available but the Chevy does. Come on guys, this fell race is a must in the calendar for 2023.