Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Heanor Running Club 10K Christmas Pudding Run - 18th November 2012

... Or, the Heanor R.C. Matthew Walker 10K Pudding Race; Matthew Walker remaining the oldest  Christmas Pudding maker in the world - based in Derbyshire since1899. The traditional recipe continues to include 13 core ingredients - representative of Jesus and his 12 apostles ... and the firm boasts a handy car park to boot, being adjacent to Shipley Country Park where today's event, the 26th running in the clubs 30th year, starts and finishes. No T shirt today but guess what as a take home souvenir? and the first of the season. Uncommonly early perhaps for a Christmas Pud, but who needs an excuse and anyway how many T shirts does a runner want to add to the collection in the bottom drawer?.

The sight of an old Colliery Wheel, the universal memory icon of these northern mining communities, hinted at the history of the area; ubiquitous these wheels in both Nottinghamshire, North Derbyshire as well as being sentinels of old mining locations in the old South Yorkshire coalfields where I've both scampered, and remarked upon, in earlier race reports - landmarks of a bygone industrial age..


... and I'm indebted for the information provided by Derbyshire County Council for their history of this park - although the beautiful autumnal tree pictures contained remain my own.

The history of Shipley Country Park

The Shipley Estate is an ancient manor mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), when it was recorded as belonging to Gilbert of Ghent, the nephew of William the Conqueror. Records dating from the 14th century show that the land was used as a sporting estate with a hunting lodge on Shipley Hill and the area was prized for its extensive forest and excellent hunting.

Shipley Country Park has long had an association with coal mining, however, from the mid 1500's, coal mining began to play an increasingly important part in shaping the landscape at Shipley and providing income for the owners. By 1722 coal mining was in full swing on the estate, and around 1765 the Miller Mundy family took over the running of the mines themselves.

With the death of Alfred Edward Miller Mundy in 1920, the Shipley Colliery Company (founded by the Miller Mundy family) took over complete control of the mines and ran them until nationalisation in 1947.
The Woodside and Coppice pits continued in production until the 1960's when they were closed because they were uneconomic. This brought a close to over 250 years of deep mining at Shipley and left behind a legacy of spoil heaps, derelict buildings, polluted lakes and 30 abandoned mine shafts.

Derbyshire County Council determined that a Country Park was a suitable memorial to mining in the area. The National Coal Board obtained permission in 1970 to reclaim the land in the vicinity of the closed collieries by opencast methods. Work started in 1970 and was completed by July 1974. A further two years were spent contouring the site, seeding fields and meadows, planting trees and constructing facilities for the public before the Park opened to the public on 26 May 1976.

Nice and busy on this bright Sunday morning as 818 runners thronged around the start line, hats and gloves were the early order as the ground was frosted over even as we kicked off at 10.30am ...

The race itself started with a couple of circuits of the industrial estate before a steady uphill road section took us out of Heanor away westwards towards the village of Smalley. Here, just after halfway, we turned back east and thankfully away from the main A608 back through winding and mostly downhill country tracks and lanes towards the country park at Shipley. Must say a quick thank you at this point to all the marshals who were all excellent in keeping us safe on what proved to be a very busy road - and also to acknowledge the patience of the motorists and say a big thanks for all the roadside support along the way.

The aim of this probable final outing of the year was to try and end on a high for Michelle; looking for a hat trick of PB`s this year and as we turned into the park with approximately a mile to go then I thought it was in the bag. A final left turn around the south side of Osbornes Pond brought us up to the 400m to go sign and a nice grassy slope to burn up - overtaking a few more before crossing the chip mat in 53.21.

Personal best for the 10k in the bag and with Christmas Puds in hand it only left me to capture another striking image of the autumnal showing  before we quitted the Park to head back North with the spoils. Many thanks to Heanor RC for another grand morning out in the park - delighted to be part of this annual fixture.


  1. Replies
    1. Yep :) ... uncommonly early aint it!!! ... usually get ours on the Percy Pud but that's generally filled by August ... Bah humbug I say to the whole Christmas thing!

  2. Great race report. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season!!!!