Overcoming adversity and adverse conditions at the Box Hill Fell Race 2013

The 2013 edition of the Box Hill Fell Race was a treacherous affair, ran in conditions that can only be described as adverse. Snow had fallen the previous day, so much snow that parts of the ground were no longer visible. In some areas, the ground was covered by as much as two inches of snow. Overnight, the temperature had plunged and plummeted to at least -1C. We were in the grip of the Beast from the East. The race should have been cancelled, of course. To persevere was nonsense. Close our schools! Ground our aeroplanes! Shut our roads! Box Hill Fell Race, how dare you assume you can beat the big freeze, the cold snap, the English weather. Extreme care, that should be the motto of the English.

Despite the bitterly cold, Arctic conditions, the race was definitely on, the organisers stoically insisted, and so some 200 fools assembled at the foot of the towering peak that is Box Hill to bravely face conditions that were treacherous and severe, and almost certainly adverse. We were sent on our way. No kit inspection. What if someone neglected to pack an extra jumper? Hypothermia would soon set in. What if someone hadn’t fully charged their mobile phone? How would they cope, lost and hopeless, in the vast, snowy, adverse recesses of Box Hill? What if someone wasn’t carrying a full complement of plasters. How would they ever mend their broken leg? I carried nothing but my common sense.

The risk of slips and trips was high as we proceeded up an icy glacier, the reckless and scantily clad moving to the front. Upon reaching the highest point of the climb, we descended the notoriously steep south face of Box Hill above Dorking. Down there, people were being sensible: reading the Daily Mail, checking on elderly neighbours and not travelling unless absolutely essential. Our route, unbelievably, had not been gritted. There was a high probability of fall. Conditions were increasingly treacherous. Pesky tobaggoners (tabogganists?) had smoothed the surface. Were I prone to hyperbole and metaphor, I would say the slope was an ice rink, a pane of glass; let’s just say it was extremely slippery. You’d have thought someone would have stopped to help, given me their arm and assurance. But, no, the hooligans hurtled past, leaving the doddering descender to his fate. It was treacherous.

Conditions on the rest of the course can only be described as severe, treacherous and, at times, hazardous. At one point, the route passed through a forest on a cambering path. Yes, I suppose it was pretty, but an adverse camber in adverse weather? Highly dangerous. The risk of slipping was considerable. The organisers will pay for their recklessness if I fall, I thought. No win, no fee – one of those. The south face was not an anomaly;  not one part of the course was gritted, even the major routes. The end drew near, but first there was one more (ungritted, undoubtedly adverse and treacherous) downhill stretch to the finish line. The risk of falling over and making a fool of myself was very high, as was the potential of being mown down by a 10-year-old on a toboggan. Treacherous, severe and very, very adverse, it is a wonder I made it to the end.

Those very important results are here.

Box Hill

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Roger Muir says:

    Your Mother and I were so terribly worried when we heard you were entering this fearful race. We researched the possibility of getting Prince William out with a rescue helicopter on standby, Lupo ( Will’s spaniel ) was called upon to search out your mangled frozen body in the icy wastes. I tried to get hold of Cameron McNeish to see if he could persuade the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue to come out. You will upset your Mother and I with your totally selfish behaviour and you about to become a father. You’re so irresponsible!!

    And what’s more you probably didn’t win either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. heightsofmadness says:

      You shouldn’t be satirical about health and safety.

  2. Roger Muir says:


  3. You can’t trust parents to keep a secret, – but best wishes to you both on the happy event.

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