I love this race. I am still new to long distance fell running but the variety and challenge it contains make it really interesting and a great day out. Conditions started off warm and I was conscious of not overheating by going off too fast on the run past the reservoirs on the early stretch – which I did last year.
I got that bit right and on the climb up to Black Hill the wind soon got up and the temperature dropped correspondingly. Good job I brought spare gloves as no soon as I’d put my first pair on, than I fell over in exactly the same spot as the year before, and they were soaked through.
I was running with Ian Wolfendale at this point and we were making good progress down into Crowden, which is about a third of the way into the race. The next step is to decide whether to go straight up Lawrence Edge or up Wildboarclough… we took the second option and it seemed like better going than last year’s LE route.
Having topped out on Bleaklow it’s always tough after climbing around 1000 feet, coupled with knee deep snow, old friend Mr Cramp decided to stick his head round the corner and bid me good day. I managed a shuffle and managed to string along until we hit the Pennine Way, which gave the chance for a faster trot along a better defined path.
When we got to Shelf Stones the wind was up and it was decidedly chilly, so time to put a coat on. We could see Kinder in the distance with its top in the mist, but that was a mere hint of what was to come!
To quote Pat Barry on the Pennine forum, setting out onto the Kinder plateau was ‘like entering Hell’. Albeit a chilly Hell. I was strung out at this point after picking a very bad line up Withins Clough and going up to my nuts in a freezing bog, meaning the waterproof trousers were on. The Kinder crossing was done in near-zero visibility, with driving wind and ankle deep snow making going difficult. The river was iced over too, and the surface gave way occasionally resulting in an icy dip for the toes, which by this time were like blocks of ice. I did this section with a Dark Peak runner and we convinced each other of various twists and turns through the groughs to appear on the edge path just above Crowden Brook – job done, same as last year.
Finally made it to the finish line 5 hours and 45 minutes after setting off – a great day out.