The Gritstone Grind is a 35 mile trail race that goes across the Staffordshire and Cheshire countryside, following the Gritstone trail. It is organised by Beyond Marathon. It is a point-to-point race between Disley and Kidsgrove, passing through several trig points including Tegg’s Nose and The Cloud. The race states it has a total elevation gain of just under 6,000 feet.

This race has been running for a number of years but this year was the 1st time I had taken part – a last minute decision. If you have read my previous posts, you would have seen I am training for my 1st 50m event (Gower 50) and part of my training required me to run about 25m on the trails.

So I thought I would join some of the Gritstone entrants. Then several last minute places became available and I thought…’why not!’

Registration

This was a very simply process. I contacted the main organiser who sent me the registration link almost immediately. After payment (£21) I received full instructions within 24 hrs. This included an overview of the route, chip timing instructions etc. All very clear and print friendly.

On the morning of the race, parking was free and a shuttle coach was available to those who wished to leave their car at the finish. Race briefing was concise and clear. Chip timing wristbands were provided as well as self checking checkpoint cards. Clear instructions on how to self check at each unmanned checkpoint were given.

The race

The start is on the canal at Kidsgrove so you get a nice flat couple of miles as a warm up. As this is on a tow path I did experience a few bottle necks so if you are aiming for a podium finish, then make sure you start at the front!

After a nice flat few miles you start to make your 1st climb up to Mow Cop on a mixture of road and trail. Keeping on the trail you travel to Timbesbrook, up the Cloud, over to Tegg’s Nose and Lyme Park and finally finishing at Disley Community Centre – a few 100 yards from the end of the Gritstone trail.

I would say the route is about 95% trail with the odd short section of country lane. The terrain is a mixture of stoney, rocky, mud, fields, woodland and definitely hilly! There about 5 distinct climbs altogether. I would also say that there was some technical trail to navigate over too in various sections of the route.

There was a couple of manned checkpoints in which your wristband was scanned. These checkpoints provided the usual ultra nutrition from juice, cola, flapjacks etc. However, one unexpected bonus was the unofficial provisions provided by a StokeFit club member at the top pf White Nancy. All I can say is a massive thank you for your support! On the subject of StokeFit, a massive thank you to the lads who allowed me to crash their running duo – Steve and his brother Chris. You helped make this run one of the most memorable races I’ve done!

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The views were stunning! They really were. Every time you climbed and you thought your legs were going to explode, you arrived at the top and all memory of the muscle burning disappeared. This was by far the most scenic ultra I have EVER done.

The Finish

The finish was at the Disley community center. As I ran up the final slope (with Chris – Sprint finish!) we were greeted by cheers on the street by several supporters who had been there for a fair few hours. Talk about dedication!

There was plenty of hot and cold food and drinks available, all free of charge. I opted for a pastie and coffee. The atmosphere at the community centre was lovely – everyone hung around for a while, watching other runners arrive and congratulating each other. Such a lovely supportive group!

This race offers no t-shirt or medal. You do get presented a completer certificate.

Summary

If you want a truly scenic race, with a great supportive atmosphere, decent price and a good but challenging trail, then this race is definitely for you.

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