I had been looking forward to today’s race for quite sometime. Ever since driving through the Peak District a few months ago I had been eager to return with my trainers and run up these hills. Today I made good on that promise as I returned, this time in the blistering heat and armed with my brand spanking new trainers, to run a 12.12 mile race across Yorkshire’s finest natural mounds.
After disappointingly having to cancel my planned mid week race due to some ridiculous traffic, my attention switched to Sunday’s 12.12 race across the Peak District. The official race instructions stated that there was a mandatory set of kit requirements including: waterproof/windproof clothing, spare food and drink, a map, compass and whistle. As my first trail race of this level I followed these instructions to the letter and managed to squeeze them all into my rucksack leaving just enough room for some flapjacks and a banana.
I took a look round at my fellow runners at the beginning of the race and noticed that I seemed to be packing a lot more than others, some only seem to have a water bottle with them. In hindsight I probably should have dropped half of my gear back in the car, but with barely any time before the race I had little choice. As the race started I found myself mistakenly in the front group again and I remained there for the first half a mile before I started to drop back and others started to pull forward. I got the impression that many of the runners had competed in the race before, or were certainly more experienced than myself when it came to this type of race, safe to say I felt a little out of place.
Earlier in the week I decided to invest in some new trail trainers. I foolishly decided it was a good idea to place my old pair in the washing machine after a particularly muddy race earlier in the year. It’s safe to say they didn’t take kindly to this and kind of ‘blew up’ in protest. There was a bit of a compromise on price and ended up grabbing a pair of Adidas Kanadia TR5s from Sports Direct. I was impressed with how comfortable they felt and well they seemed to handle today’s run, but it didn’t stop me looking on in envy at other’s Inov8s and Salomon Speedcross’.
Today’s race was always going to be difficult being my first 10+ mile race without any gels for quite some time. Given the heat and the difficulty of the course this decision was either brave, stupid or somewhere in the middle. My hydration bag helped a lot, as did the glucotabs I was carrying but running without my gels was a mistake I don’t wish to repeat.
For the most part I managed to follow the trail without any issues, mainly because I was always able to keep another runner in sight, the two times I went wrong almost led to hilarious consequences. The first mistake I made was after climbing to the top of one (of many) hills I failed to pay attention to which side of the hill the runner in front of me went down. So when I reached the summit I had to guess, and I guessed wrongly and ended up having to climb down the rocky side of the hill, complete with multiple 5 foot drops.
As I reached the bottom I started to see runners coming down from the other side of the hill and I realised my mistake. Whilst I wasn’t racing particularly competitively this mistake cost me a fair bit a time and a few positions in the race. My second mistake came towards the end of the race as I carried on past the signed route for a few seconds after realising the path which I initially dismissed was the correct one and I had to quickly double back on myself.
I had made the decision before the race that I would be running it essentially as a tourist. It would probably be a while before I venture across the Peak District again so I made sure to arm myself with a camera this morning and take as many shots as I felt comfortable with. At one point in the race a goat ran out from the side of the track with little warning before running back into the bushes before I managed to successfully scramble for camera. Fortunately my camera was on hand later on when I came across his shy, docile cousins.
Once I reached the finish line I grabbed a couple of cups of water before laying down. I then suddenly remembered the flapjack I had packed in my bag, it’s sweet, sugary goodness was an ideal pick me up after a gruelling ~20km run. Marathons aside, it was definitely the most challenging race I have competed in this year, in fact I’d probably say it was tougher than the London Marathon, but that might just be the dehydration talking. Going in to the race I felt like I had a decent amount of experience with hills to get me round without too much difficulty, but after today I realised how untrue that was.
Next year? Maybe. I still haven’t decided what my plans are next year, running wise, but I’ll certainly be running this race again at some point, only this time armed with more experience and more nutrition.
This past Wednesday I was interviewed on BBC Lincolnshire for a catchup having recently reached the halfway point of my challenge. This interview was originally planned for last Monday but had to be rearranged after I had to literally run to Jenny’s aid as her health took a downward turn.
Take a listen below.
Next week I have the small matter of two races in one day. The Rother Valley 10k in the morning, followed by the Sheffield Man of Steel in the afternoon. I should hopefully be able to acquire a GoPro camera for next Sunday so I plan on recording the second race for everyone elses amusement.
As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.
Distance: 19.85km | 12.33 miles
Official Time: T:B:A
Average Pace: 06:28 min/km | 10:25 min/mi
Goody Bag: T-shirt
View my run: