I arrived in Edale at about 9 pm and wandered about chatting to friends from orienteering and mountain marathons. By 10 pm our team was not only complete but thanks to Steph's dad who was injured we had a lightweight shelter and very small light sleeping bag. Kit check was done and we managed to swap to a slightly earlier start time of 11.11pm.
I had maps on waterproof paper but was hoping not to need them too often. Julian had done the route before, Andy knew some of the area and Steph had been over some of the route with her dad. The only tricky bit looked to be the new bit over Bleaklow which would be pathless. We set off in high spirits chatting away and were soon mixed up with other runners and in particular Geoff P's team. The forecast was not great but considering last year the event was cancelled due to the Beast from the East and in other years the weather had been foul we were lucky. It was dry and quite mild as we climbed up to Hollins Cross and Lose Hill. A short drop and then a rougher climb led to Win Hill and the gnarly descent down Parkin Clough. I must be getting old because in the dark and on muddy rocks I felt very insecure. Fortunately Julian was no better. A short road section followed so there was plenty of chatting as we headed towards Stanage. At this point I still knew where we were and had a reasonable mental map. The path north below High Neb and along to Moscar was easy running. It was here that the fast teams and eventual winners came flying past. I spotted Jasmin and Konrad plus also the ladies team of Sabrina, Carol and Mary. Another short road led to a well stocked CP so we grabbed flapjack, sandwiches, tea and more water before dropping to Cutthroat Bridge and back onto the moors. We had done about 12 miles and were in good spirits. Somewhere as we crossed Derwent Moor the wind increased and so did the rain but it was not really unpleasant. We were still moving well, for us, and happy. From Howden Edge we dropped to just north of LadyBower Reservoir and it was a little more sheltered running in the valley to Humber Knolls. We were about half way and now the tough bit appeared. A mixture of worsening weather, a relatively pathless section and a biorythymn low point at ?am made the trek to Grinah Stones seem hard. When we got there it got worse. We had been moving more slowly and were cold but the CP had vanished in the gloom. Eventually we established that it was incorrectly placed at the bottom of the crags - not nice in the dark and wet. We had to stop and put on more layers. I run cold and so now had two thin thermals, my prism and my cag. I added over trousers for food measure although I probably didn't need them. Bleaklow was a bit grim but now it was getting light and we knew it wasn't far to the Pennine Way and good running. We didn't hit the CP at the ford as cleanly as I would have liked but it wasn't far back up stream. The CP at Snake Pass summit was very welcome. A chance to remove the extra layers, grab more food and top up drinks. The cup of tea was a bonus as was the improving weather. We probably had about 12 miles to go and the next section was easy nav and good running. I am not a fan of flag stones but where erosion has reduced the moors to a boggy mess I can see the need. The good path meant we were soon at Mill Hill.
We were all too tired to run every single step but we were doing OK and heading for Kinder Downfall.The path was a bit more gnarly over the rocks but still good running with one very short pathless section to by pass the hill en route to the CP east of Edale Cross. I have pretty awful memories of Brown Knoll from the 2007 Edale Skyline race but it has now been paved and although sticking to the flag stones made the route longer it was easy all the way to Rushup Edge.
The end was now in sight and we were running slightly faster. Bob appeared, out for his walk, and took some photos as we carried on to the road and the path contouring below Man Tor. It was quite crowded on the path to Hollins Cross now the sun was out. A quick glance at my watch and I knew we would be back before midday. I hoped we might be under 11hrs 30 but despite a sprint finish and overtaking two teams in the final miles we finished in 11hrs 33. Not too bad at all for a scratch team. We were 2nd vets; until you applied the vet handicap. Our young ages of 21,40,53 and 57 gave us far too low a total to do well compared to the older teams with all four runners in their 50s or even 60s.
It was good to sit, eat and drink. I had been worried about my possible hernia from Snake Pass onwards. It hadn't really misbehaved but felt tender and so I was anxious the whole time.
Would I do it again? Yes; although I would want to recee the route so that I was less dependent on others, especially over the Bleaklow area. After food and chats I managed a couple of hours dozing before Bob returned. Not a bad way to start the weekend.