Sunday, 22 September 2013

No 51 High Peak 40

I have done this race for the last 4 years and now know the way, and what to expect which is maybe not such a good thing. I dread the long road section to Chelmorton and the slippery stones and hard haul up Cave Dale but on the whole it is a lovely and varied route. The marshalls are always great and the whole event seems very friendly.

This year Bob came with me- not to run but to go out for a cycle ride. It was nice to have company and a chauffeur. We slept well outside the school and were able to have a leisurely breakfast. I dashed up to the school to use the toilets and helped Dick and Nick with the Runfurther flags. The forecast was good so it looked like another day of T shirt and shorts. By about 7.45 we were all on our way down to the Broad Walk and park to be ready for the start. I had already met up for a chat with Nick, Dick, Andy plus others. I had banter from other as I ran to the loo and it was good to see at least two Krypton team mates make the start line.
The thermal only stayed on until the outskirts of the town!
I sort of promised myself to set off carefully and must have been good because I ran all the way until the moor. It was nice to leave the tarmac and we soon had damp feet. I much prefer the soft stuff although one guy suffered a fall as his road shoes failed to grip. At this stage I still had Tracey in my sights and she had a strapped ankle.... how we like to dream. Andy was setting a cracking pace and with thoughts of the OMM in a months time I thought I should try to stick with him. The flat of the old rail track and then the path along the reservoirs came and went very quickly. It was misty and we were soaked in a misty drizzle but it wasn't cold. I was struggling to stay with Andy and let him go for a bit. I think the pace was too much and I was soon suffering and even forced to walk on what should have been an easy road section. We had a slight detour onto what was apparently the old route. Andy B from the FRA forum came out of his house to wish us well and we slowed enough to have a chat. I then continued to struggle and Andy R (Splatcher) pulled away again. As we pulled up towards Eccles Pike I could see Andy and others not far ahead but had no way of trying to get back to them. At that CP I was close to calling it a day. Everything hurt and it was still only a little way into the race really. I admired the fantastic barn conversion and had a brief chat with the marshalls before sguffling off again. I was passed by several runners and then Roger and Simon came by. We ran together for a bit and then they too pulled ahead. I tried not to get downhearted but I was suffering. Somewhere around here I realised my camera was getting wet. I stopped and put it away- but then forgot about it for the rest of the day which was a shame. The mist and drizzle thickened as we headed up over Mam Tor and onto the ridge.
Castleton - but not actually today
 I picked up the pace a little and was rewarded by yet another glimpse of Andy. Trying to get back to him kept me going at a reasonable pace all the way down into Castleton. I knew the second lady was just behind me but there was nothing I could do about that. Andy and I plodded up Cave Dale and both admitted we were suffering. At least we were going up the greasy rocks and not down them. Second lady duly passed me- we had a chat before she skipped off into the distance. The field seemed more strung out this year and I ran more on my own. It was about here that I think I left Andy and gained time on a runner up ahead. The run down the lanes and into Tideswell seemed tough despite being mostly downhill and I must have been a sorry sight when I got to the marshalls at the next CP. I do like the next section of the race though- the crags are overhanging, the river is always beside us and the mud is always wet and unavoidable. I felt sorry for the walkers who kept jumping out of the way- presumably not wanting to be splattered with muddy war paint in the way that I was. I looked at the climbers chilling on their bouldering mats with envy but was starting to feel very slightly better. Closing up on a couple of other runners was good psychologically. After the little footbridge I caught one runner and then could see orange T shirt man ahead. Thank God, because that pulled me all the way along the old rail track/ cycle track. I celebrated a narrow escape with a wayward toddler on a bike by having a sit down and some food and drink at the next CP. (something I was to regret when I missed a PB by so little). It meant orange T shirt man got away but I needed the fuel. I had been eating reasonably well all day but still seemed to struggle for energy. We crossed the road and ran up the next boggy section together. I then ploughed on and was boosted by a chat with some lads doing DoE who were well impressed by our efforts. At last the sun was out now and perhaps it lifted my spirits. The next CP was superb with table cloth and all. Sadly it also meant the start of the long road. It wouldn't be so bad if it was not so straight but the drops and climbs seem endless. I did though see a guy up ahead and by running with just a few breaks for power walking I managed to gain on him. A quick glance behind however showed that orange T shirt man was doing even better. At last the turn off to Chelmorton arrived. It seemed to give me renewed energy and I upped the pace through the edge of the village and onto the farm track. I was hoping it was only about 5 miles now which meant that I would not be too far off the 7 hour pace. Then I spied two more runners up ahead and one was definitely Simon. I gave myself the challenge of reeling them in before the turn off into the fields.

 A much hotter day in 2009
I caught Simon long enough for a chat - about how Roger had beasted him and had now gone on ahead. Despite this Simon was still going well and set the pace from here to the end. The stone step stiles and the rocky descent and climb were a torture for tired legs but then we could see the last CP. It looked like 7 hours was going to be a tough ask. It should have been possible with a bit of guts- no ploughed fields this year and no gang of nasty cows blocking the gate. We did pick up the pace and fair raced through the farm and camp site. But by the time we hit the road I was spent. I had 3 minutes to break the 7 hours and it was clearly not going to happen.  The bus stop and turn off onto the grass could not come soon enough. Bob was waiting at the end of the path and it was good to see him. The last run down the road past the van, and another toddler determined to wipe me out, and we were on the school drive at last. 7 hours 4 mins, which was far better than I had hoped for during much of the run.
2011 and also looking worse for wear! Nothing changes.
Simon was over the moon with a PB by almost 90 mins. I was shattered. Today had taken a great deal and at no point had it seemed easy. I did still enjoy the day but what an effort. I staggered to the food and refuelled with pie, soup, tea and cake. Bob was a hero and went down to the van to collect my bag so that I could have a shower, and then he went back again when I realised my trainers were not in the bag! True love from someone who had finished their bike ride before the sun came out in the afternoon. We stood in the sun waiting to cheer in other runners and then Bill appeared to ask us to move inside for the prize giving. 3rd lady and 1st old lady did not seem so bad although Duncan and Stu had times that were amazing. 40 miles with 1175m of climb and yet so much of it makes you feel you should be running faster. ( I will add more photos if I find some, and a map for Helen). Nice also to meet Tracey again, Lisa's husband, John H, Paul and so many more.

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