The hedges of the peak district

Last weekend's High Peak 40 was not my greatest race. I travelled to Buxton on Friday night, planning to stay in the van overnight ready for the race on Saturday. Unfortunately it would seem that driving slowly late at night near a school attracts attention, and after looking for somewhere to stop for a while I was stopped by the police! After being breathalysed and told to drive less eratically I carried on and found a quiet road to stop on.

Anyway, the next day was the race. The HP40 is quite flat, with no big ups and downs. The terrain is also pretty hard (hard like tarmac, not hard like difficult), making it a relatively fast race. This means it's not my favourite race, but I had been feeling pretty good before the start, and decided that I would like to have a good go at winning a race. So when the pace wasn't too fast off the start I moved to the front, passed Martin Beale and set off into the unknown!

At checkpoint 1 I was, for the first time ever, the first person to arrive. I quickly grabbed a drink while my tally was stamped and continued. On to checkpoint two I was still running well within myself, but just before the CP had started to get a bit of stomach ache, so I slowed down and was caught by Jim Mann. We ran together and chatted through CP2 and on towards 3, then got slightly lost, staying too high past the passage control. Not a disaster but enough to allow a group of runners past us. We weren't too concerned though and agreed we would gradually catch them up.

However, this is where the problems started! I won't go into details, but for the next five hours I basically hopped from hedgeback, to dry stone wall, to public convenience, and so on... Somehow I had got bad stomach cramps and digestion issues. It was like the problem I had at Bradwell but longer, and due to the flatness of the course there was no uphill respite. There were a number of people who I passed five or more times during the race, which seemed to amuse them more and more each time!

Eventually the issues faded slightly, with about three of the fourteen checkpoints remaining. I think I was in around 20-30th position. The one-before-penultimate leg was a 5 mile road section, and it had just started to rain. At the time I was running with Jim again (who had been having similar problems to me!) and another guy. We ran well all the way along the road and caught a fair few people. At the checkpoint Jim retired and with about five miles to go I decided to go for it again, if only to get the end of a fairly disastrous race!

The last couple of legs were mostly off road, a bit lumpy and quite enjoyable. I overtook a few people, and was finally on the run in to the finish. Luckily, the van / local area / police disaster the night before meant I recognised the road in (a few people had problems finding their way into the finish).

Looking at the results I was surprised to be 11th, finishing in 6:38. The winner was Rob Sellors in 5:53. As my final counter in the Ultra Series I ended up with 888 points, actually better than I managed in the Lakeland 100 and Wuthering Hike, which felt like much better runs! Ah well, hopefully I can solve the stomach issues and one day win a race!


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