Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Bog Monster Cometh.

Its just gone 11.30pm on a friday night. I'm standing with three friends, Tom Gibbs, his good missus Astrid, and Gary Davies in Edale village hall. Around us are still an assortment of like minded souls similarly equipped with headtorches, running sacs and other fellrunning kit - its the start of the High Peak Marathon........ 

To quote the website 'The High Peak Marathon is a 42 mile night time navigation endurance challenge for teams of four.  The route traverses the Derwent Watershed, starting and finishing at Edale Village Hall, Derbyshire. The event is independently organised and run by Members of the University of Sheffield High Peak Club, past and present, and is fully insured and affiliated through the Fell Runners Association.' 

Competitors awaiting their start times.
We were in the mixed team category along with some dozen or so other mixed teams amongst the fifty taking part, many of which were looking very competitive. Of our team, 'Run MDC' , only Gary remained a 'HPM virgin'. The rest of us had done it a couple of times before and knew of the misery that awaited us!

The hope for this event is to have clear and frozen weather so that the infamous peat bogs remain hard and frozen. Alas this was not to be. The forecast was for around 5C with some wind, with fog and rain coming in later. However before the start the local hills disappeared into a foggy blanket - navigation was going to be extra fun.

We kept the start steady. Initial pacing in this event can be hard to judge as you catch slower teams, and faster ones overtake. The key is not to get carried away - the initial 10 miles is fairly easy going compare to the middle bog section that awaits, and 42miles is a long way.

Visibility was poor - very poor at times. Headtorches  became little use on the head in the fog and had to held lower in the hand. I was further blinded by my glasses fogging up and leaving me half blind alot of the time, and the burden of navigation fell to Tom. His navigation is superb but it did leave him with a major task for the race.

Ascending Kinder Scout
Gradually check points are picked off as we crack on, each manned (and womaned!) by cheerful Sheffield students, usally garbed in some sort of fancy dress - you cant fail to smile! The group works well and we stick close. Over the bogs Tom and Gary do a great job of keeping us on what constitutes a path over the proper peat bogs on the route to Bleaklow. This is the toughest section where you do your best to avoid the bog monster, who if you are careless will suck you in and leave you waist deep in the black ooze as you to try and drag yourself out and try not to lose your footwear!

Daylight properly arrives as we approach the Pennine Way but no glorious sunrise in the fog, just a gradually brightening. Toms navigation skills keep us on track and we continue to make good time. At Snake Pass food, tea and cakes can be had, along with more good cheer from the marshals (this is probably the best marshaled event in the world!). We don't stop long - still 12+ miles to go..... however we seem to be in pretty good shape still and Astrid is running very strongly!

Kinder Scout is a pretty section, but sadly the fog doesn't give great views today, although running past the mist shrouded outcrops on the top does have a sort of eerie magic. Then onto Brown Knoll where the bog monster makes a last strike as Gary attempts to leap a section but gets caught to just below the knees and has to clamber his way out! It's not far to the finish now and Astrid continues to push us blokes along. 

Run MDC - happy now finished!
After 10hours 11minutes we make the finish dib. 10th overall, 4th in the mixed category and 30 minutes faster than last time. A very tidy result, but my legs are knackered now... must learn to train a bit more..... 

Big thanks to the High Peak Club for their organisation and enthusiasm who make a really good job of his tough event.

No comments:

Post a Comment