It’s always about this time of year when I start to say to a couple of friends in the village, ‘This is the year! I’m going to really go for a good time in the Monument Race...training starts today.’ Then some four months later, I inevitably find myself on the start line alongside all the keenies from running clubs near and far thinking, ‘I didn’t really get around to doing any training...oh well, I’ll just have to give it some welly and cope with a bit of pain!’
The Crich Monument Race was the brainchild of Richard Blyth, Alan Coxon and Paul Woodhouse, who were sitting in the pub discussing the fact that other villages nearby had trail races but Crich had nothing. Almost as one, they described exactly the same dream route – and the race was born.
That was 10 years ago, and over the nine times the 11.3km race has been run there have been more than 1,800 entries. 2018 saw the maximum 300 runners taking part. Because of the challenging 1,000 feet of climbing, the minimum age for entrants is 16, but there has always been a good spread across the age ranges. With this year’s race being the 10th, the organisers have some treats in store to make it particularly memorable...including a T-shirt for all the runners.
At the loaf, we have always had a keen interest in the race. In 2011, Joel Stevens, who managed our Matlock shop at the time, stormed round in a course record time of 41 minutes 55 seconds and held it until 2014. Then last year up stepped Dan Haworth, who was then working in the loaf kitchen. As the gun went at the start and Dan sprinted off like a train, I heard some of the club runners round me chuckling and muttering to each other, ‘He’ll never keep that pace up!’ Maybe they weren’t aware that Dan had been posting fantastic results in hill races and cross-country events across the north of England all season. Sure enough, none of us saw Dan again until we finished ourselves... He had smashed the course record by over a minute in a time of 40 minutes 23 seconds and the next runner didn’t cross the line until over two minutes later. The women’s record of 48 minutes 18 seconds has been held by Christine Howard since 2011.
The team that organises the event (Paul and Jo Woodhouse, Richard and Kirsty Blyth, Claire Parkinson, Pat Carland, Ian Travers and Alan Coxon) does so entirely voluntarily and tries to introduce improvements to the race every year. Last year saw the introduction of ‘King and Queen of the hill’ prizes for the fastest runners on the 300m ascent from Cromford Canal to Crich Stand. Thanks are also due to the landowners, sponsors, volunteer marshals and, of course, the supporters on the day. Over the years, the race has raised over £5,000 for local charities.
The race will start on Crich Recreation Ground, as part of the Crich Village Fête at 1:30pm on Saturday 13 July. Enter now at crichmonumentrace.co.uk as entries fill up quickly.
There’s no doubt that this year I will be slower than I am hoping I’ll be right now, but you can guarantee that I’ll be on the start line as determined as ever. This is one race that anyone who has ever put on a pair of running shoes locally shouldn’t miss. And if you’re better at putting together a training plan than I am, it could be you that is King or Queen of the Hill at the 10th Crich Monument Race!