Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Dovedale Kippered

Not sure if "kippered" is actually a word, but I think I've heard it and that's how I felt at the end of the Dovedale Dipper

I'd been lulled into a false sense of security by some comments on the FRA forum LDWA events thread. Along the lines of first half or even first 2/3 are easy, only one big hill, good surfaces most the way. Maybe last year this was more true but the recent rain meant good trails were now saturated in places and hills had inexplicably grown around the course.

Set off around with Mark and it is a gentle introduction. Rolling hills out of Hartington and nice green valley views along Dovedale. Then you run a section of the Rolls Royce of trails, the High Peak Trail. One of many ex-railway line trails in this area heading up to the highest ground further north. Now relaid as a smooth and responsive path with an extremely gentle gradient. All the way to CP1.

Gets more difficult after this, lots of field crossings meant this must be well up there on the "most stiles climbed in one event" stakes. These areas also seemed to accumulate mud. Before CP2 at Longnor there were plenty of muddy or wet bits and the odd hills too.

Next section contoured along shallow, River Manifold valley and then a very marshy climbing section before next CP. Apparently, or so I was told, this section was the only bit the winning lady walked. Winning fella apparently didn't, obviously a robot ;) Legs feeling it by now after swift start which was too early to be good.

Difficulty ramped up again now from, CP 3 to 5. Now it was time for some hands on knees climbing after a steep drop into the Manifold Valley and steep up other side around Ecton Hill (369m). Following some hefty undulations and a CP the new terrain was a contouring run on a narrow, slanted path which twisted ankles at all kind of angles to stay upright. Saw a couple of guys heading back, I think one of the had fallen and hurt/fractured wrist on this bit :(

Next CP was very welcome, topped up on water and then spilt a load of orange trying to refill cup - dodgy jug lid... oops. I was running on my own now as I had slowed to a new comfy plod pace. Brief chats with a few others who I passed or passed me and then a steep and slippery descent towards the road to final CP. No heroics here, damp soil and tree roots aren't a good accompaniment to tired ankles. At final CP I unleashed the power of fruit jellies, tasted good but the boost was short lived.

The next 5k was a bit like the signature part of race, fantastic, wooded, steep sided valley or "gorge" (cos I like that word). Running on a trail, along bottom, close to the, fast flowing, narrow River Dove. Really nice and if I wasn't struggling to run I would have loved this bit. The final sting in the tail was the climb out of Wolfscote Dale, deffo hands on knees, probably even if I'd have been fresh and planning on just running this 300yards. This just left a short stagger back to Hartington. The lack of a village was disconcerting for awhile, but then it appeared, between the hills, church spire showing the way.... I'm not religious but this sight was salvation today!

5:09, roughly 3200ft, which isn't that much over 26.4m, but felt it at the time. Winner broke the record with an astonishing 3:33!

Again I've suffered badly in closing 5-6 of a long run. Common theme here, need to slow down at start and up midweek mileages in training, so my overall mileage is a bit better and I can push up the endurance a bit.

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