The race website advertises this races as:
- A very tough 33mile 6300’ ultra trail/fell run in the Peak District [53km / 1920m]
- Challenging routes in the Dark & Peak which visit Bradwell Moor, Hollins Cross, Kinder Scout, Lose Hill, Win Hill Woods, Stanage Edge, Burbage and the Abney Valley
Over the past few months I've done a few recces of sections of the route. I'm really familiar with the area, and do know quite a bit of the route from having lived in the Hope Valley, but some sections were just not known to me at all. Recces are always incredibly valuable. While you can glean a lot of information from a map, satellite images and talking to others who have run the route in the past, there is nothing like getting your of feet and head around the route. That way, I know for sure what is coming up, where it's good to know when a tough section will end, and where the check points will be.
|Ready to go|
I was reminded by someone recently of the 6 'Ps' - a valuable lesson for anyone I think "Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance". Obviously not a guarantee of a successful run, but planning and preparation are never going to be wasted.
What you can't plan for is the weather, and on the day we had virtually no wind and bright shining sunshine with 20degrees forecast. Intermittent cloud cover came in the afternoon bringing some relief to the searing heat, but it was to be a day of seeing how much you could drink vs how much you sweat. Pretty sure the balance was tipped the wrong way for a lot of people, me included.
Tim and I drove over to Bradwell with Martin (brother-in-law doing the half tour), arriving early enough to faff and not be bothered by queues for the toilets. My very good friends husband is one of the organisers with Bradda Dads and he was on registration. Thanks for the good wishes and pre-race chat John.
|final map checks with Caity and Jude|
From here to the next CP it was a steady uphill of mostly walking interspersed with short runs. My place in the pack hadn't settled down, but it felt like I was in the back third as I glanced back down the hill. The sun was already hot, beating down and causing me to sweat considerably. I took regular sips of water until the descent down the slippy rocks in Cave Dale. This section had been praying on my mind a lot. Essentially most of the route is on good paths and trails, but this bit is a steep descent down a limestone gorge strewn with loose rocks, and topped off with a permanent trickle of a stream making all the rocks super slippy. I was following Nick Ham down here, having been pretty much with him since the climb up Pindale. He's a much better runner than me and seemed to be picking his way down nicely. I have a tendency to stiffen up and really slow down but I was determined to keep him close and push myself. I did, and we reached the check point close together.
A drink of water, topped up my bottle and grabbed some salted peanuts and a chunk of banana, then off through Castleton and the slog up to Hollins Cross. I was determined to keep moving on the ascents and I did just that. Topping out at Hollins Cross I was greeted by the smiley face of Matt, there to cheer me on! I gathered he'd not been there long and hadn't seen Tim.
|Beautiful shot of me with Mam Tor behind as I approach Hollins Cross|
Thanks for the photo Matt
|Approaching Hollins Cross with|
Winnats Pass behind
Thanks for the photo Matt
Descending down the grassy side of the rutted path was slower than I'd have liked but on an odd camber I didn't want to go over on my ankle. Reaching the bottom I'd been behind another lady but she had map out and was checking where to go. I just went straight through, over the road and through the gates and fields without any issue thanks to a recce across here. I ate some food and finished my drink as I approached the Edale CP and to my surprise there was John who'd quickly got himself from Bradwell and over to man this post. Brilliant to see him and have a quick chat as I filled my bottle. In hindsight I should have filled my soft flask too, and perhaps this contributed to the onset of dehydration (more on that later).
On my vague time projections I wanted to be at Druids Stone by 11am. It was now about 10:25am...John reckoned I'd do it, and off I went with no real expectation of how long it would take, just to keep putting one foot in front of the other and aim not to stop on the ascent. Across the footbridge, up the field, through the gate then the long climb up the zig-zags towards Ringing Roger. Part of my nutrition included a couple of chocolate bars - they work for me - but with the sun bearing down I knew they were already turning into liquid that would get super messy if I tried to eat them. I chatted to a couple of walkers and gave them a donation of chocolate. I think they were a bit confused, but thank you whoever you are.
|Standing on Druids Stone on a recce run|
|Approaching Lose Hill with Mam Tor now a little further behind!|
Thanks for the photo Matt
I know this path really well so got on the grassy trod to the left of the steps and relaxed into the descent. Across a stile, down to the farm, beyond and over a couple of stiles to the fields before the railway line....to be greeted most cheerily by Sue waving her Glossopdale vest and shouting superb encouragement to me. Brilliant to see her....I knew she was out with husband Chris so was spurred on knowing he could be round any corner soon.
|Dropping off Lose Hill towards Hope|
Thanks for the photo Sue
|Onwards to Hope|
Thanks for the photo Sue
|Waiting my turn to have my bottle filled at Hope|
Thanks for the photo mum
I think the last time I walked down this lane was at Christmas with family....with massive snow flakes falling and crunchy snow underfoot. Oh to have some snow to eat right now. The heat was intense, even under the shade of the trees. Next up was Aston along the road....but Nick H took me on the path guaranteeing we'd cut the corner a little. Cheers Nick, it must have shaved a little height gain and was actually really straight forward to navigate. All the years I lived in Hope and I was going down a path I'd never been on. Turning up to gain fields on the flanks of Win Hill we were back in the sun. Then at a stile we could see a herd of cows....and calves. Bugger.
No way. My heart racing. The herd were right after the stile and Nick jumped straight in to try and shoo them off to no avail. One cow decided to scratch hooves and look menacing and the rest of the herd almost joined in. After a while they calmed down enough for me and another runner to get in and through them as quickly as possible - quite difficult given the uphill gradient. I stuck to the wall as much as possible expecting to have to climb it but thankfully got above the herd without incident. It prayed on my mind for a while afterwards, hoping other runners would pass without any problem.
|Lis pointing to the forest turn on our recce run|
Approaching Stanage I took advantage of the bracken for a toilet stop....the liquid was really dark. Bugger. I'm proper dehydrated. And it is still a long way to Burbage with no heat. I had about 200ml water left. Not enough but would have to suffice. I pushed up the causeway, determined to stick with the runners near me. I could still see Nick H ahead...no way, that shocked me as I presumed he'd pulled away a long time back. He looked off the main path and as I approached the check point it was indeed a short climb up to the left - how odd? Anyway, I dibbed and continued now thinking I could keep Nick in sight. The urge to drink was quite strong now. I kept a little water back for the last bit before Burbage, knowing it's not a good idea to gulp it down in one.
I'd got my soft flask stashed so on the approach to Burbage check point it was pulled out ready to be filled. I needed to desperately rehydrate. My plan was to sip on that down Burbage and run the whole way....no walking allowed as it is a gradual downhill all the way to Toad's Mouth. I started to feel a little better as the fluid went in.
|Footbridge just after Toads Mouth|
Thanks for the photo Sue
The path across to Lawrencefield is lovely, moving through silver birch and ducking under low branches made me smile. Dibbing at the wall corner I'm now 43km in and running into the furthest distance I've ever done. I know the way down the quarry, no other runners around and it feels like I've been along for ages. The trees hid the fact that there are others there, and as we leave the trees at the bottom, cross the railway line and into the fields the other runners emerge. Some come from odd directions clearly having overshot the right turn one field after the railway.
I get to Coppice Woods first and feel strong enough to run down through the forest. My guts seem to have sorted themselves out. I'm about 6hrs 30 into running and not feeling hungry but shove some food in. Not long until my next water stop. I plan to fill bottle plus soft flask and sip the flask constantly but steadily until it's gone. Run-walking along the path by the river is really hard going. Like so hard the ground looked inviting to sit on and never get up. The other runners around are catching and a few overtake as I walk. I catch as I run, they pull away as I walk. We all reach the penultimate check point around the same time. My bottles are out and lids loose ready to fill so I grab the water, lids on, stash and grab the tasty banana+salted peanut combo and move on quickly.
|Heading towards Stoke Ford on a recce run|
We climb up through Abney Clough together and I celebrate reaching my first ever 50km with a big high five with her. Nice to share that moment with someone and have a good chat to take my mind off my throbbing toes and general weariness that I'm ignoring. Near the top of Abney Clough we're greeted by a cow in the path....another runner attempts to shoo it off but it aint budging. We edge round it then put a bit of speed into our walk to distance ourselves. We're not far off the gate where I breathe a sigh of relief. I'm really not happy being so close to cows.
|Abney Clough on a recce run|
|Start of the steep descent to Bradwell |
on a recce run
|Dropping down the steps to Bradwells main road and the final kilometer (on recce run)|
|The last 100m to the finish|
Thanks for the photo Caity
|These feet got me round...and that's muck, not suntan!|
Thanks for the photo Tim
I would like to thank lots of people for their support before, during and after the event. If I've missed anyone off I'm sorry - I'm still in the post-long-run-daze. Tim for being a rock, believing and encouraging in huge doses. Matt, Sue, Chris, mum, Jud, Becky for their super support before and during. Fellow runners including Glossopdale Harriers Nick, Jude, Caity and Paul plus many others who I chatted to along the way. RO Richard Patten and his band of super marshals - including my friend John Boyle - for all the organisation, excellent check point feed and water help. And Lis, wonderful running friend who one day I hope we can share a long run like this, chatting all the way as we do best :)
Tour of Bradwell Results Overall by Course - I was 58th overall
Tour of Bradwell Results Splits by Class - 6th in my category