Sunday, 3 July 2011

Peakers' Stroll 2011 - 25 Miles - Peak District

Peak Forest nestles in the midday sun
"Mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun". And so we did. Accompanied by some mad Englishwomen. We headed out of Peak Forest on the High Peak in bright sunshine with a refreshing breeze which provided brief but welcome relief from the humidty.

This is an event I look forward to. I suspect I have run it five or so times. The event provides good training for longer challenges and involves a fair amount of climb which is important to a runner now living in a flat area. 

After leaving Peak Forest the run heads towards Mam Tor and the first climb off the day. Passing Mam Tor runners head across the Great Ridge to Loosehill before a steep descent towards Hope. Checkpoint 2 provides welcome hydration ahead of the stiff climb to the summit of Win Hill. The views from the summit are spectacular. Off Win Hill the legs are tested as we leap through the bracken in the direction of the wood towards Ladybower reservoir. Ladybower was used by RAF 617 squadron to practice low level flying techniques ahead of the bouncing bomb raids to German dams.

Home - 3:41:00
Past experience makes me wary of the line through the woods. A footstep too left or right can mean you miss the third checkpoint. Thankfully this year I'm accompanied by a fellow entrant who confirms the path and we land at checkpoint 3 as planned. After checkpoint 3 the route follows the reservoir for approximately 3 miles and I manage to run strong. The heat is taking its toll and its tempting to dive in the wide expanse of blue water. A short while later its checkpoint 4 and the first energy powder. I drink a lot when its as hot as it was today but prefer to mix the odd energy drink with plain water. This year I take a different ascent through the woods and on to Jaggers Clough. Luck more than judgement brings me out where I need to be and I head on with renewed enthusiasm. 
A fine spread
At Jaggers Clough its time to dip my head band in the cold stream and immerse myself with water. It was very hot today and I felt the heat particularly between Jagger's Clough and Edale. From Jaggers the route contours the lower flanks of the magnificent Kinder Scout towards Edale and the penultimate checkpoint before the finish. I was still running strong with perhaps eight miles left to go but I knew there was a stiff climb to the top of Hollins Cross, a descent to Castleton before the final long drag up Cave Dale and down Oxlow Rake. I'm well acquainted with Cave Dale having run up there many times on other events. I felt strong in the final miles which is encouraging. I knew there were two folks ahead but couldn't make in roads on them. In the event I finished in 3 hours 41 minutes in third position. 42 runners set off at 11.30am. There were 110ish walkers that had left at 9am, many of whom I passed on route. Approaching the summit of Win Hill I passed a lady that enters (and finishes) every year. Now in her 70's it was inspirational to see her romp up possibly the toughest assent of the day. I hope I'm still participating at that age, brilliant! 

The Peakers Stroll is a highlight of the running year. A great value event. In 2011 it cost less than ten pounds to enter and for that you can take part in a 25, 17 or 9 mile walk or run. A good quality certificate is given to each finisher and every entrant is treated to either soup or ploughman's and an assault on the home made cakes. A fantastic day out enjoying some of the best views of the dark and white peak district, running with friends in glorious sunshine, perfect.   

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