This is what Bank Holidays are for!

So, this weekend was the inaugural “Big Running Weekend”. The event started on Saturday night (for me anyway , some people had been there setting up pretty much all week!) when I gave a talk about the Big Alps Run and then was part of a panel to answer some audience questions. I was in illustrious company, Nicky Spinks gave a great talk about all her achievements despite huge personal setbacks, and Darryl Watton talked about his brilliant 35th place finish on the Marathon des Sables.

The panel - photo borrowed from Accelerate Photography

All the talks seemed to go down pretty well, so thanks if you came along! For the panel we were also joined by Marcus Scotney (GB 100km Ultra runner), Julian Lings (English Duathlon champion), and Jason Ward (GB 10k runner) and answered some interesting questions from the floor. It was very interesting to hear a range of thoughts on things like training, kit and drugs testing from the elite to the make-it-up-as-you-go-along-ers (me).

There were three races taking place over the weekend, as well as some orienteering events. The first ever New Balance Ultra Tour of the Peak District would start at 8am on Sunday, followed by the 12 mile trail race later in the day, and then a hilly 10k on Monday. In pretty good weather on Sunday morning about 50 of us set off from Whirlow Hall Farm to run the 56 mile Ultra course. The route took us around some of the best bits of the Dark Peak, linking them together in ways which had never occurred to me! I knew it would be a fast race, with guys like Marcus Scotney and Dan Gay running. I had decided to run my own race and try not to get too swept up in it all if one of these guys shot off!

This is actually the start of the 12.12, but we went the same way!
Away from the start we took the same twiddly route through woods and across a couple of roads as the other two races, and despite the first section being signed three of us at the front managed to take a wrong turn! We quickly caught up all but one of the places we had lost, then gradually gained on the leader on the way up Porter Clough. We ran up, which may not have been a great idea but we were all feeling strong at that point... The three of us (Marcus, Dan and I) pushed on at a decent pace around Lady Canning’s then up to the first CP at Burbage Rocks. From here we were navigating, no more flags! The route took us on to the end of Stanage, then via the Pole to Redmires Reservoirs. It felt really good to be running a proper Ultra on the same paths I run on from home!

By this point I couldn’t see anyone behind the three of us, and as we climbed up onto the road at Hollow Meadows Dan had a bit of a lead. I was having slight stomach trouble so had a brief stop, at which point Marcus ran past singing “weeeee know what you’re doooooing”. Anyway, by the time we reached the checkpoint / feed station at Moscar we were back together. We were there in 2:10 which was a bit quicker than anticipated, and our feed station bags hadn’t actually arrived yet, but there were plenty of Clif bars, gels and Shot blocks (these are amazing, going to get more of these!) so no worries. We would be back through the feed station later anyway. Just after the CP I saw Lorna and the dog waiting for us on a corner, it was nice to see them and they gave us a good cheer!

The Moscar loop was one area I had recced, so it was quite novel for me to actually know where I was going! When we got up onto Derwent Edge I felt Marcus really lifted the pace, possibly trying to get rid of us. I just about clung on, it was fast but manageable. Around Lost Lad, then a slightly tricky bit of navigation to make sure we didn’t end up in Far Deep Clough, then back down to the reservoir. After the CP there (unfortunately there were some dibber issues, and this was one that didn’t work) was a sharp climb back up to Derwent Edge. I felt we relaxed here again which was a relief, and I chatted to Marcus about the honour of running for Team GB (he has, I would like to) as we climbed. From there it wasn’t far back into Moscar, I didn’t have much in my drop bag so grabbed it quickly and got out in front, with the other two close behind. Marcus caught me on the way up the climb but Dan had dropped back slightly. After the finish we learnt that he had stomach problems and had dropped out later on, around 45 miles I think.

From my Kinder recce
Up onto Stanage again then, and a long gentle-ish climb up to High Neb. Here Marcus again pushed on and I started to struggle to stay with him, I think I only caught him as he waited to check whether there was supposed to be a checkpoint at the junction before the descent. Perhaps it hadn’t arrived yet, but we saw no sign of it. I stopped for another quick trip into the hedge on the descent to feed station 2 but caught up at the checkpoint and we left at the same time, running up the road towards Ladybower and our eventual destination of Win Hill. The climb up Parkin Clough from Yorkshire Bridge was hot and tough and I was glad to emerge from the trees as we climbed the last bit up to the top. From there we headed down and along above Ladybower, joining the Roman Road to take us past Hope Cross and onto another section I had recced along the edge of Kinder.

This edge had been the scene of my disaster in the Long Tour of Bradwell a couple of weeks ago and I was keen for it not to happen again. I pushed on a bit here and had a small gap as we made our way up onto the edge and along towards Ringing Roger. I was hot and working quite hard along here, but could see the gap growing slightly. I knew Marcus was very quick on the flatter sections so thought this might be my only chance, with the climbs to Hollins Cross then Cavedale to come. I think it was about here it started to rain, and I was certainly wet by the time I saw Ian Winterburn at the Ringing Roger CP. Then down the rocky track (Ow!), down the Nab, through Edale, over the fields and under the railway, over the road and off up towards Hollins Cross. The Accelerate guys (Stu, Ben and Al) had come out to support and it was great to see them at the road crossing.

Full of encouragement and still with a gap I headed up to Hollins Cross. I held the gap up the climb, down into Castleton and on up Cavedale but could feel the distance in my legs now. I walked up Cavedale and stopped for toilet another couple of times. I think Marcus was having similar issues slightly lower down the hill! By the time I got to the top of the Limestone way climb he had caught me, and to be honest I knew I didn’t have much left. From there into Bradwell I felt awful, and when I got to the feed station Marcus was just leaving. I tried to be quick and get out, and had some good encouragement from the Accelerate guys again, but I didn’t see him again after that.

Marcus cracking on to win
I felt really bad now and put all my focus into holding on for second. I didn’t know how far Dan was behind (not knowing he had stopped) but I knew I would be gutted if I was caught. After Bradwell and Shatton we joined the River Derwent. It was hot again and I hated the flat running, but forced myself to run it all as quickly as I could. Through the edge of Hathersage and off up Ringinglow road I felt slightly better, then came the awkward cut across from the road to the path. It would have been better to stick on the road a bit further then cut straight, but I took the advised route. I found the path though, theoretically the last bit of tricky nav done...

At the Carl Wark checkpoint the marshall said Marcus was about 10 minutes ahead, but he didn’t think I would be caught from behind. I wasn’t sure how he knew this so chose not to believe him (sorry)! From there I messed up the nav and cut up too early, through Burbage Rocks so I ended up joining Houndkirk Road not much after the outdoor centre. I was angry with myself which helped pass the run over Houndkirk a bit, which I had suspected would be horrible. Eventually though I was alongside Lady Cannings, and started to count the kilometres to the end... Then the end of the plantation, the little bit of tarmac, across the road to the marshall, 15 minutes to go he reckons (Marcus has probably finished), down the Limb Valley like last weekend, along the track looking for the cut up left... Then I saw the track up, and soon after that saw Tom Saville and Rob Little waiting for me. Up the hill and across the final field and I could see the big inflatable finish line. Tom had phoned Stu Hale so they were all waiting for me, fantastic! ...And stop.

I finished in 9:41, I think Marcus did 9:19 so he took a lot out of me in the last quarter of the race. He was stronger throughout really, and those fast bursts early on had taken all my energy. It was a brilliant race though, a tough one and longer than we all thought at 59.7 miles. The ladies winner was Sally Fawcet in 11:36.

After the race I had a massage from Holywell, which was VERY painful at the time but has made a big difference since, I was able to jog back from marshalling the 10k yesterday and ride my bike today (neither very well, but still...). Lorna ran the 10k in a massive PB of 1:09 and looked like she hadn’t done anything at the end!
Chaos at the end of the 12.12!
Congratulations also to the winners of the other races, Rob Little won the 12 miler after a sprint finish and Oli 
Johnson the 10k. Sorry I couldn’t go one better to make it a Dark Peak full house!
Thanks to Whirlow Hall Farm, Eight Point Two, Accelerate and New Balance for a great race.


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