This wasn’t a race but worthy of writing about nonetheless because it involves running lots over some of the most amazing scenery in the UK. Just in the little Peaks of the Peak District that is if you can call the Peaks little. Total distance around 30 miles from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon with some massive and somewhat immediate climbs. Lovin’ it.
So this was the weekend of Sheffield Running Clubs’ Training Weekend at Edale. Based at the campsite in the small picturesque peak village of Edale. Club runners pitched their tents then went off for the first of many runs around the fields and hills of Edale whilst the majority of the population were gearing up in front of their TV’s to watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. There was no T.V here nor a mobile signal – pure bliss!
Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired – Jules Renard
The evening run was just a short one, just over 3 miles, no particular pace it was just a relaxed trot through fields, over styles, through a small hamlet and up one little hill, of course saying hi to the sheep and cows on the way. This was no mooathon (that’s in Ireland in September) or baarathon (yet to exist though maybe found in Wales in the future?) but just a pleasant relaxed evening run in stunning surroundings. The weather had held up for us – the perfect way to run off those week work woes.
After a great pub meal and a good nights’ sleep in our tents, the morning had broken with damp but fine weather. It looked like those little grey clouds could break away from the field to reveal a fantastic day. But first we had to do the breakfast run. This was not the same as a school run (no kids involved) or a coffee run, we weren’t about to go to Starbucks for coffee and croissants – oh no, the only thing we were going to get to eat on this would be sheep poo and cow dung. Buy a large cow pat and get a packet of sheep dung absolutely free.
Today I run for pure, absolute joy! – Lopez Lomong, U.S. Olympian and Lost Boy from Sudan
Another great potter the other way around from last nights’ potter, minding the potter patter cow pat. Another lovely 3 mile run at 8am in the morning. This set us all set up for a rewarding breakfast and relaxing morning all ready for the main run at 11am.The rest of the day promised to be fantastic, blue glistering skies with the sun well positioned to provide us with a great days’ running.
The run first took us up to the top of ringing Roger and across the moors of Jagger’s Clough. The views were stupendous, glistering green grass, glowing moorland with just a bunch of runners scampering up the hills passing the odd walker. Ringing Roger is defiantly worth the grunt. They call it part of the Edale Skyline and you can see why when you are running along here. I felt 100% alive, in my own zone and loving it, bounding my way across the skyline, jumping over heather moorland and small rocks, dodging the odd walker or two and saying woof to the dogs. The views just got better and better, the weather was perfect, the gentle wind was refreshing and the sun beaming down onto the fluffy bouncy ground. I was in pure bliss. No pressure of a race just running with a group of like minded people enjoying this amazing countryside and this run.
What goes up must go down. I always struggle with downhill and watched my fellow club members bound down the hills asking them for advice on how to run downhill – I think more toe nails help apparently along with lots of confidence which I don’t have. Light and elegant seems to do it but I am just not light nor elegant and only have two toe nails.
Half way around we had the choice of carrying on for a 12 mile run or turning back to clock up 7 miles. I was happy and feeling strong so took the 12 mile run option, plus it has been a bit of an ambition of mine to run up Win Hill and Lose hill even though it was the more gentle side of Win Hill. This was amazing, the ground was perfect the territory was fantastic, the paths perfect, what more would you want on the last Saturday in July?
So up to Win hill we went, four of us, at our own pace though regrouped regularly saying hi to the friendly walkers as we pushed up the hills. The view from Win hill was just bliss, on one side the picturesque reservoirs of Ladybower and Derwent, with Derwent edge stretching in the distance, on the other Hope Valley spreading itself in the backdrop, the hills shimmering in the distance bathed in blue skies.
It’s unnatural for people to run around the city streets unless they are thieves or victims. It makes people nervous to see someone running. I know that when I see someone running on my street, my instincts tell me to let the dog go after him. – Mike Royko
Win Hill at the top was like Meadowhall 2 days before Christmas but probably slightly cooler. Tagging the Trigg Point (always a must) we then descended back down to Hope, with ‘rather you than me’, ‘good luck’ comments and sarcastic smirks from the walkers when we told them we were going to run up Lose Hill.
We needed to consulted the map a few times and with joint navigational skills we ended up with just half a mile on tarmac before finding the lane up to Lose Hill.
Running up Lose Hill was fantastic yes I said running up that hill was fantastic. At the top, the Great Ridge flowed through Back Tor, Hollins Cross and over Mam Tor. The views could be seen for miles and miles. Picture postcard, front cover of Runners’ World or Trail Running Magazine here we come!
From here, it’s all downhill but the uphill – Author Unknown
Again what went up had to come back down again. A steep loose rocky decent back down to Edale awaited us as I clumsily stumbled down the path waving my arms like I was in distress trying to keep my balance. Once back in the fields down the valley I was away again running free, running freely running is free.
12.01 miles later we arrived back at the campsite to be reunited with the rest of the group. A delightful selection of flapjacks and cookies by the clubs’ bakers (are we a baking club with a running problem or are we a running club with a baking problem? – You choose!) and fantastic hot dogs made by our club chef put the cherry on top of the cake.
A most rewarding pub feast, dodging the torrential rain showers and a few drinks later we all toppled into our tents for another good night sleep.
Whilst people snooze in their warm beds on a Sunday morning, the pleasant aroma of coffee filling the house, the gentle noise of the percolator , the smell of burned toast and crispy bacon.. whist people.. whilst other people have another breakfast run around Edale the only smell was that of cow and sheep dung. The only sounds of sheep baa’ring and the pounding of trail shoes on the soft ground. Now that’s what I call a full English breakfast. The route was the same as Friday evening though this time with more sheep. It defiantly set us in good shape for our Sunday run.
What? You mean everyone doesn’t do this!? – Author Unknown
The main run at around 11am began first by ascending the stony path up from where we had come down the day before. A challenging but great fun scuttle up 1 mile of climb with some scrambling in places. At the top we regrouped before ploughing on up to Mam Tor. It was mainly flagstones up to the top of Mam Tor which was rather difficult to get a decent stride. I found myself either striding too long or too short however I felt great pounding up the hill. Although the weather wasn’t quite as nice as Saturday there were still staggering views across the Edale valley. A geography lesson at the top of Mam Tor taught us that it is also known as the Shivering Mountain due to its shale layers and the road beneath crumbled in the late 1970s.
Once the bell rang and we were let out of the classroom we ran riot up some solid dirt trails towards Lord’s Seat, the highest point on the Rushup Edge. Suddenly it started getting rather chilly, and not in the ‘hot’ vegetable sort of way. Then it started getting darker and darker as the grey clouds silently manoeuvred themselves over us. Then it all started, the wet stuff, falling from the sky, drip drop, drip drop, pour, pour, pour pour. I swear it was almost hailing as we fought our way through the sodden footpaths with our heads down, absolutely immersed in water, drenched. That was one hell of a shower, a July shower with much more power than an April shower or your power shower at home. Sodden from head to toe (even though I have very few toe nails) my little coat clinging to me like it was part of my skin, my shorts wetter than if I had wet myself 3 times. My trainers waterlogged squish squash squish squash, Butter nut squish squash.
Due to the torrential rain no one was up for tackling Brown Knoll, we would have ended up Brown Knee, and brown arm and brown head if we had gone that way. The solid dirt trails had now turned into little streams as we splashed through the mud infested puddles on the exposed moorland. I would have brought my swimming goggles if I had known.
Finally the shower departed and out came the sun to dry us off, but only for around 10 minutes as we made our way down the hill. Just in time as the rain came back to haunt us. We all huddled under a tree for shelter, we were not being big wet runners, this was rain that looked like it had been gathered from Niagara Falls. Once the wet stuff had eased we continued our journey. Back down in the valley through farm fields we came out at the hamlet where we had done our breakfast runs. Onwards and across wards for a mile or so back to the camp-site. Our tents were now wet but it didn’t stop us from gathering to eat more flapjack and drink fantastic tea by our club Chef.
A first-rate runtastic weekend with first-class scenery and brilliant company, really well organised and led by the clubs’ top tea and hotdog maker. Would I do it again? Do you need to even ask?
What is it like when a day of running ends and I come down out of the mountains?
Though my thighs are not always able to lift the foot high enough, I am strong.
With my limbs caked with mud and my clothes soaked with sweat, I am clean.
Though fatigue pulses through every nerve, I am well rested.
With my skin torn from brambles and poking Balsam fir, I am whole.
I’ve been around for 46 years, but the mountains and I are eternal.
We will visit together as often as I can manage.
And one peaceful day, I will return home forever.
– Damon Douglas (via Dick Vincent, RD Escarpment Trail Run)