02 Jul Chevy Chase Fell Race
Perhaps a lesser-known event in the runner or long distance walker’s calendar, the Chevy Chase fell race organised by Wooler Running Club deserves to be up there with the most popular UK endurance trail races.
A 20-mile trail route , the Chevy Chase is an unsigned navigation challenge as well as the chance to take in some of the most breath-taking (perhaps in more ways than one!) scenery of the Northumberland National Park.
Starting from the Youth Hostel in Wooler, there is only a short section on tarmac with an otherwise unrestrained freedom of the hills. So long as chasers pass each of the checkpoints in the correct order, they may choose their own route along the footpaths, sheep paths and rough fell of the surrounding countryside. Entrants will ascend both the Cheviot and Hedgehope Hill over the course of the race, via the landmarks of Broadstruther and Langlee crags. In fact, the event involves a climb of some 1,200 metres over the course [PDF].
Interviewed in 2008,Claire Bagness from Wooler Running Club said:
“You just cover this huge area of land because it takes in Cheviot and Hedgehope. There are people who have done it for 25 years who keep coming back. It’s just that exhilaration of having overcome the challenge. There are steep uphills and then the exhilaration of coming down and the battle to finish at the end.”
The race is open to both walkers and runners so all can take part. But be aware – though the race is run in July, the weather in the Cheviots can turn in a moment, so go prepared!
2015’s Chevy Chase is taking place this Saturday, 4 July. It’s too late to enter for this year, but spare some encouragement for any entrants you see passing. There’s no doubt they will be earning their cake and sandwiches at the finishing line! Or why not get a group together and put the training in for 2016? Teamwork to find your way, hours spent in beautiful scenery and the satisfaction of a tough challenge completed can surely not be beaten.
As this “fly over” from Google Earth reveals, it’s a truly stunning course: