Stanage Stumble

Today was the day of the Stanage Stumble – a run / walk event in the Peak District over 10, 17 or 25 miles. The runners set off at 10am with walkers at 9am or earlier, the Stanage Stumble, let’s get ready to Rumble!

Off the back of a 10km cross country race the day before I was a little apprehensive to say the least, could I run 25 miles after race day – let’s see. It was inevitably going to be slow due to the terrain it’s not called the Stanage Stumble for nothing!

I would have liked to have done it in around 4hrs 30mins as there are bits that you just can not run up, plus opening and closing gates, chatting at the checkpoints and chatting to friendly fellow runners en route. What a perfect day.

We all started around 9.56am – some 20/30 or so of us, some of the runners doing 17 miles some doing 25. The first 2 miles or so going up limb valley my limbs felt fine, I took a nice position behind what looked like some rather professional lanky men who were going quite slow, to begin with, I wasn’t going to go off too fast so just plodded behind them – 4 hrs plus of this so it was important to keep it slow especially up the first 2 miles of hills. This is not a road marathon so just go with the flow.

We hit Houndkirk Road which I now knew quite well and 3 of us took the front group (amidst 2 other runners who had charged in front and we never saw them again) I began chatting to someone from Northamptonshire, talking about how I had never done a marathon, what the London marathon was like and for him he said it was more impressive doing this than doing the London Marathon. That made me feel better, and soon we emerged at checkpoint 1.

Checkpoints were a new experience for me, runners stop and chat and have a biscuit and a drink, I didn’t know whether to take one or not and whether to be polite and stop and chat too so I did, no rush it’s not a race its just an event. Everyone was really friendly and at this time of the day we were passing a lot of the walkers too. Brilliant, I really felt part of a brilliant event.

Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too. – Richard O’Brien

And onwards to Fox House, no foxes insight no hounds either having just departed from Houndkirk road – phew! Then down to Burbage, up halfway and then across to Tigger Tor, (No sign of Winnie the Pooh either) and splat! The kiwi goes splat; four of us were now taking the front pack including the splatted Kiwi straight in the mud. I managed to keep up right. I thought the climb up to Tigger Tor would be hard and it was – lots of rock climbing involved (no ropes just proper hands and knees scrambling) then onwards and acrosswords. I was lucky knowing most of the route whereas some guys had their OS maps all marked. Still feeling good I continued to put one foot in front of the other and say good morning to everyone I passed. This was bliss.

Checkpoint 2 all checked in and out and down we went, a couple of the guys went flying down the hill, I am not very good at the down hill so just took it steady. Then it began to go a bit wrong, four of us were debating at a gate not quite like parliament but still debating which way to go. We decided on up but ended up cutting across a wired wall and field to join some of the walkers who were unsure as well. Meanwhile, we could see some of the other runners in the field beyond, who we then overtook later. This probably added another half km or so onto the route. But who cares in the end? As long as we would get to Check Point 3 that’s what mattered. I was still feeling good so to keep up that goodness I took on my first gel just in case. Even though my name wasn’t Justin.

This is what really matters: running. This is where I know where I am. – Steve Jone

Checkpoint 3 was located at the bottom of Stanage, please clip me, thank you very much and a biscuit will be lovely, then through the car park and up to the top of Stanage, busy busy busy, excuse me, excuse me, can I get through please thanks very much, thank you, very much and jogging up and up and up (and up) and I made it with a bit more scrambling and stumbling. We will we will rock you.

Buddy I’m a little woman, hard woman, running in the rocks, gonna take on the world some day, I’ain’t got blood on my face, I will, I will I will rock this.

A couple of the guys including the splatted kiwi whizzed down and were well in front of me over the distant part of Stanage Edge towards Moscar. Someone shouted at me to catch them up but I lived up to the name “Stanage Stumble” and went for a tumble, ok time for a gel my friend, gel time, and wee time, yes I had to go for a wee on the moors too ok? Its natural you know, its natural. So my garmin time includes my wee stop as I forgot to stop it. Lots of old millstones on this part of Stanage Edge – one with a smiley face too – wish I had a photo, smile for the millstone.

At Moscar I ended up overtaking the other two guys and then got chatting to one of the walkers who said I was the first runner to go by – I was leading the pack at this point – I felt elevated, how can little me lead this? I was in my own little world, completely just me, and the mud and the trail and the world and nothing else. Nothing else mattered.

Talk to me not of time and place; I owe I’m happy to the chase. – Shakespeare, Epistle to David Garrick, Esq.

Soon splatted kiwi caught me up and we got chatting about how neither of us have done marathons or are “training” specifically. Maybe I am not all that strange after all? – As the song goes “Strange strange strange”.

Check Point 4 – a shortbread biscuit piece please and a juice for the tarmac – about a mile of it before dropping down a very muddy field and across to Redmires. A very muddy moor based terrain, slipping and dodging the rocks and bogs. Bog off bogs. Oh look its a river without a bridge, and wet feet – Wet Wet Wet – Strange Strange Strange!

At Redmires I saw a couple of the lovely members of Sheffield Running Club – waved at them and shouted 27km in, that actually made me feel quite good only 14ish km to go at checkpoint 5. The worst bit to come; running up to Stanage Pole, you won’t see any pole dancing around here my friends. It was hard going as I was used to hitting this around 10km into my runs not 30km in; yet I kept going, to the top. Keep on running, keep on running. All my mango had gone by now and I was on my last little square of homemade malt loaf – I only brought 3 little squares – not enough, not enough give me more malt loaf. Malt loaf rocks as does this section of the run.

Stanage Edge is always hard as its just rocks and puddles and rocks and puddles, solid, solid as a rock.

Cause I’m so solid as a rock they just can’t stop me now
Even when they set their traps they just can’t stop me now
People will say this and that they just can’t stop me now
Even when they set up road blocks they just can’t stop me now

It’s not called Stanage Stumble for nothing. By this time Kiwi friend had gone bounding on, he had done Mountain Marathons in New Zealand so was used to this terrain, little me just skipped on dodging the day walkers and enjoying myself. Time became a distance haze and all that mattered was the running.

A welcome wave and a woof at Stanage Edge emerged from the rocks. I saw my favourite little white feline doggy friend – ‘Toby’ and my Mum and Dad who shouted “you are about 5th we think” – they didn’t know other runners were doing 17 miles who I overtook on Stanage. Not sure what position I was – 2nd, 3rd? who knows, who cares; I was feeling good and really enjoying it, its just an event, not a race which was another odd ethos in my head that I was slowing it down not racing it but really just enjoying it all. Bizarrely it began to snow, yes just literally 2 minutes of snow, I could feel my hands freeze up, a mini snow storm – brilliant! – the song ‘Run’ by Snow Patrol comes to mind.

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we’ll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can’t raise your voice to say

Dropping down to Burbage Bridge; checkpoint 6 gave me a wave and I stopped to have a chat to the lovely people there who fed me with juice and check in and out – every little helps just like Tesco but without the queues or silly self service checkouts that don’t work. Kiwi runner was chatting away unsure of the route at this point. Just a few more miles across the top of Burbage and we’d be back ‘home’.

My body was feeling rather tired by now, need to learn to eat more earlier on; so I tried another gel – one that came in the goody bag yesterday at my 1okm race, bad mistake it was a coffee shot – I was nearly sick, as I hate coffee. Did I say I hate coffee? I hate coffee more than I hate worm soup with slug pate. I had to take off the rucksack and find my emergency gel with a big green cross on it – first aid Gel I call it! Phew as I got that down me a swig of water and was well on my way back to Houndkirk Road, back with Kiwi runner.

I could feel my salt levels dropping by this point and began to splash water on my face from my rucksack water bladder, I could have done with more food as I had taken all my dried mango and malt loaf – next time more malt loaf. I forgot about my dates until I got home – dammit, just what I could have done with – a date.

The Kiwi was striding infront by now and I was loosing it, just another 3km ish thats all as my garmin flashed up “low battery” at around 38km. Come on come on come on keep going it’s all downhill from here as my limbs were getting to me as I ploughed down Limb valley forgetting about the slight inclines as well. At one point around 40km my body just lost it so I took on some juice and told my brain to keep going just another 5 minutes that’s all, you are not tired its just the sugar and salt, keep going.

Believe you can do it. Think no other way but Yes you can. – Author Unknown

And back to the HSBC ground, I did it – I did it! I did, I did it. 25.68 miles in total with a rather large gain in elevation – see stats below. I did it in In around 4 hrs 18 mins according to the very low batteried garmin (including wee stop, emergency gel stop and a few other stops). Most importantly food was through the archway – proper Sheffield grub too – stew in a Yorkshire Pudding with Gravy and Hendersons Relish. I didn’t think I could hack that after a long run but it went down so so so so well.

Stanage Stumble lived up to its name, I have not one grumble, I am so humbled to everyone involved to make it a fantastic event, the very friendly checkpoint people supplying us with food and drink – you are complete stars every one of you, the organisers, and to all the stumblers out there, walkers and runners alike, and to thank the lovely guys who kept me company throughout the event and kept me going. I am in love with this type of running. I have learned lots about myself today, why pound concreted towns when you can do this? I love where I live. I live here in the world of beauty.


Moving time: 4hrs 11 mins
Time: 4:18:04
Certificate time: 4 hrs 25 mins
Distance: 25.68 miles
Position: Dunno – maybe 2nd / 3rd or 4th?
Elevation Gain: 3,304 ft
MaxElevation: 1,473 ft

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