I had a guy from Barrow Runners go on about this for years hence I had to give it a go, this year’s event sold out in a mere eleven minutes! Originally three Stiltons made the cut but injury meant just myself (Rob Beers) and stand in par-Excellence Dan Valencia would make it to the start line.
Very few Leicestershire clubs on show at this event of around 600 people, we meet up with Zoe Sewter from Hermitage and local legend Tim Hartley who not only hadn’t realised the event was today but hadn’t raced this distance for about 14 years!
We start mid-pack I must admit to not feeling up to it and `training run` being imprinted, in any case it was a reccie for both of us as not knowing really what to expect in 21 miles and 3000ft apart from pain. The first mile towards Froggat woods is incredibly slow with stiles and the usual bottleneck hold ups, people jumping the mud and puddles (surely? It’s an offroad race you know what to expect?). The first big hill comes and whilst I persist up it Dan has plumped for another technique (!) , we head towards the village of Eyam.
Bit too much road at the beginning but Longstone edge is plenty muddy, it’s all those high walls and stiles you have to climb that really play on the agility. Great Longstone leads us towards Bakewell and a long stretch of trail that is far too easy to just hammer and lose a lot of steam (Dan!) as at the end of which is a huge climb with some sort of cowbell at the Hill bottom!
The descent towards Chatsworth estate is one of the most scenic I find, I’m enjoying the downhill, I don’t enjoy the agility of dodging people from here to the end of the race as the weather is getting a lot better and they are coming out the cracks. We hit the village of Baslow at 17 miles and I am somewhat battered (Tim H said he suffered from here also), I’ve tried to conserve energy and definitely another gel or two wouldn’t have gone amiss. Anyway it’s the biggest climb of the lot up to Baslow edge, not knowing the course or how long I’ll be climbing the odd cheeky walk finds its way into my shattered legs as I hope saving them will help with the technical section on the edges. The top eventually came and the technical section began, testing ones agility against not only stones and mud but walkers, Dogs etc on tired legs was very hard work and by the time we came to the woods near the end of Baslow edge I felt really tired and no energy left. The final descent into Grindleford would’ve been done better by a Dalek down a flight of stairs; wearily I tread downhill through the village over the bridge and over the finish line. Thankfully getting inside to a hot cuppa, a bowl of soup and a cake can do wonders for rousing a flagging energy level!
Despite the pain, the uphill and everything it’s a superb well organised event showing off some of the best of the Peak district, both myself and a just as tired Dan Valencia loved it. This year was very much a reccie and we hope to return next year a bit wiser of where to go quick and where to lay off a bit, great day for the offroad runner. [Rob]