It was an early alarm for this one. I set off at 5am to get down to Buxton Community School for 7am to register for an 8am start. It was short walk to the starting field.
The organisers had clearly spent the budget elsewhere, maybe on the large tannoy, and not on the inflatable start arch. The less than impressive object, that resembled a cheap children’s toy, duly collapsed just before the gun and was swiftly kicked out of the way so we could head off up the first climb to Solomon’s Temple where a piper was playing for us in the tower. Then down through the woods of Buxton Country Park where I took an early tumble over a tree route but remembered to commando roll my way out of it. Nothing damaged, so on I went.
The early part of the race on Axe Edge Moor was quite boggy in places with lots of tussocks, really difficult terrain to run across. I got my foot stuck in one large bog that I couldn’t quite leap across. I had to put my other foot back in the bog to release the tension so I didn’t lose my shoe. Something that a fellow 2 places behind me did manage to do. I bet that was nice to put back on once he’d retrieved it.
That was it for potential race ending incidents. The rest of the run was spectacular to look at but incredibly tough to run. Let’s face it though. That’s why I was there.
Derbyshire folk of yore gave their hills great names, it has to be said. We ran (well, mainly walked) up the aforementioned Axe Edge Moor, Hen Cloud, The Roaches, Shuttlingsloe and Shining Tor to name a few. Shuttlingsloe at 20 miles was a particular brute. Not the highest point of the race but the steepest climb by far and it was getting hot now too. You could see it looming for most of the course, way before you got to it.
It was an increasingly hot day, and I’m not so good in the heat, but there was a good strong breeze on the tops to cool us down. I drank loads of water, filling up my bottles at each of the 3 manned checkpoints, and there were plenty of streams that we crossed to splash over my head to cool down.
I would highly recommend this race to anyone who wants a challenge. It was well organised (apart from the inflatable), friendly and the scenery is stunning.
Main photo: Courtesy of Fiona Ashton-Smith