“The Big Cheese: the bigger and meaner brother of The Stickler”

“I love cheese, but ‘The Big Cheese’ tested that love to its limits!”, says Jess (Maskrey) after taking part in last Sunday’s 15-mile race, organised by Cheddar Running Club. “The Big Cheese is The Sticklers bigger and nastier brother”, Adam hits the nail on the head. “The hills were longer and larger, there was an additional five miles to contend with and the paths were rock strewn.” But despite the terrifying challenge of a 15-mile category B fell race in the hills surrounding Cheddar, seven Bridport Runners made their way up north – and one of them almost won The Big Cheese!

See all results and read Jess M.’s race report: “Now, I love cheese … but ‘The Big Cheese’ tested that love to its limits! A 15mile fell race in the hills surrounding Cheddar with the prospect of cheese for the winners and podium places. I wasn’t getting ahead of myself thinking I could win, but I knew Ben R was racing, so cheese was on the cards!

It was a beautifully sunny spring morning (which, it turns out, was not good news for one of us) as Ben, Adam, Mike, Rachel M, Claire, Jess C and Jess M headed north to Cheddar. After a mile walk from the car park to registration and a further mile from registration to the start (that’s two extra miles already!), we were ready for the off. Ben and Adam lined up at the front. Claire, Jess C and I firmly at the back.

Straight from the start into the first big hill. We knew there were four big climbs in total. Claire had the details written on her hand (we just hoped she didn’t sweat them off before the end). I couldn’t tell you much about the race itself apart from … the scenery was beautiful, and it’s perhaps not a good idea to run a category B fell race when you’ve been under the weather all week.

Ben absolutely smashed it! He came in second in a time (01:42:30) that would have won in other years. A big block of cheese was his prize! Then came Mike, followed by Rachel and Claire who was convinced she wasn’t going to have a good race but running the footpaths of her childhood was exactly what she needed. I’m just gutted I missed her commando roll in velvet bottom (“velvet bottom” being a location on the race, not a reference to Claire or her attire)!

I was still out on the course. I had no energy, and eating or drinking was making me cough (a lot). And my hip hurt like crazy. But I had Jess C and Adam with me, refusing to go on and leave me. Adam had succumbed to the dreaded hey fever and early on decided to treat it as a nice Sunday run.

With a mile of downhill to go my hip was really protesting. But somehow Adam and Jess got me to the finish. And despite rumours of no medal, there was a medal for every finisher. Not just that free tea and cake for every finisher, too. Things were looking up! I knew we had a lovely bunch of runners in our club, and the Big Cheese confirmed that to me once more.

And the big question: Do I still love cheese? Hell, yeah! (but I might avoid cheddar for a while!)”