“You’re not a proper fell runner until you’ve done the Trigger” seems to be the word on the… er…. fells. After focusing pretty much entirely on training for, and recovering from, the Lakeland 100 last year I decided to try something with a little less glamour. An unmarked route from Marsden to Edale with a number of route choices, and almost certain poor weather, seemed like the ideal option. At £15 with proceeds going to Woodhead Mountain Rescue, it’s a bargain race and if it meant I’d earn my proper fell-runner’s badge that would be a bonus too!
A gaggle of Glossopdale Harriers bundled into a taxi early Sunday morning to get to race registration at Marsden cricket ground. It was a pretty smooth affair and without much fanfare we were off along the first section to Black Hill. It was pretty easy to break the route into manageable sections to keep a bit of mental focus along the way – first, up and over Black Hill to Crowden, then Torside to Shelf Stones and then the final climb up Kinder Scout where you “simply” drop down to Edale to finish. Barely anything really!
I usually like to take things a bit easy early on in a race and push harder later on, but I knew the first section to Crowden would be good for me as there weren’t any particularly challenging climbs and it was largely on paths. I knew I’d stand my best chance pushing as hard as I could early on and I’d just have to deal with the consequences later (which definitely became a bit of a challenge!)
Glossop Mountain Rescue were manning a Spine checkpoint (that had started the same day at Edale heading north) at Torside and Immy had come along to support the Harriers and handed me a falafel before I began the climb up Torside edge. This was very much walking territory and I was starting to feel the effects of pushing things early on. Torside edge and surrounding areas were a bogfest and visibility was poor but I trusted my compass and managed a decent enough line to get to Higher Shelf Stones (checkpoint 2). Not too long later and some Harriers were out to support by Snake Summit, which was amazing in such horrible weather – at least I was moving whilst they were stood out there significantly exposed and getting cold to support the runners (thanks Tim, Lynne, Chris and Tracey). I was hitting a low point here so it really helped to see some friendly faces.
By then, I only had one thing in my mind and that was to get to Kinder. An off-track section was coming up along Withins Clough which was probably the most challenging section of the race for me – generally heather bashing and trying to cross deep groughs with mud everywhere. I fell over numerous times (and have the bruises to prove it) and narrowly avoided falling down a large well-hidden hole which was at least as deep as me. Occupational hazard I guess!
There weren’t any aid stations as such, just checkpoints, and whilst I got some small water top-ups, I knew I was running low. I was starting to get dehydrated as my legs were cramping – on one of my tumbles I looked at my calf and the muscle was visibly writhing under my skin so I knew I needed to do something fast…. so I ate an electrolyte tablet.
Mouth frothing I tried to guzzle some of my limited water supplies and somehow death marched to kinder corner hoping that my body would start working again. I kept telling myself it would all be ok once I’d climbed Kinder which of course it wasn’t, but at least most of the elevation would be done.
As I continued along the edge, I arrived at the Downfall a woman on her own emerged from behind a rock with arm-outstretched and said “Sweetie?”. It’s this kind of support that’s amazing but I did chuckle to myself imagining a pile of drugged-up fell runners behind her rock that she’d enticed with sweeties…
At the final checkpoint (Kinder Low) I knew it was just a matter of pushing along to the end now, so that’s exactly what I did.
I was in no condition to take pictures, so here’s a map of the route instead
Covering a distance of 25 miles, somewhat exhausted I crossed the line in 4:47:58 in 29th out of 169 finishers which was more than good enough for me (Results are HERE). I didn’t really have much idea how long it would take as the route has changed over the years but I had a notional five hours in my head so was pleased to have got in under that. Mark Davenport (a fellow Harrier) wasn’t far behind, along with Ian Crutchley after that, so we ate our much needed vegetable stew and made our way to the pub for the proper refreshments!
As a separate note, I’d jumped on the bandwagon of veganuary so had done 12 days of no animal products. I just wasn’t sure if/how this would affect my running but had been feeling pretty good generally and this diet seemed to see me through. I can’t really blame the cramping on a lack of meat/dairy!
Down on to the roads now for me with Manchester Marathon coming up in April, hopefully there’ll be less chance of falling down a hole on that one!