I started the day with about 2 hours sleep, tossing and turning with nerves, over thinking the challenge ahead, knowing the conditions would be bad after recent snowfall and the forcast heavy rain and wind, but seriously how bad I couldn’t have ever imagined.
All my recces/long fell runs were done in fairly good conditions.
So I grabbed my Kit (which weighed a ton) and bobbled out the door at 6:25 am to meet my Lift, which after a slight logistical mistake turned up 30 minutes late, not a good start to the day as I was already cold, but very grateful all the same.
The logistics of the trigger is a tough one.
It starts in Marsden and finishes in Edale. (About 24 miles of the harshest terrain in the Peak District)
So Laura was going to meet me in Edale when I finished.
We arrived at Marsden cricket club, to pick up our numbers and do a Kit check.
The rain pouring down outside turning the snow to slush, I couldn’t wait to get going.
I planned to do the first 3 miles at 8:30 mm then settle into a more sensible pace before the terrain changed from trail to moors I figured the terrain would suit me up to A635 so I would take advantage.
So Andy Plummer set us off at 8:30am.
Across Buttereley Reservoir we went Jasmine Paris flys past me over the Reservoir bridge covered in thick mud, the plan to keep feet dry as long as possible already over in the first 50 metres.
Then onto the track and the 3 miles of climb up to the A635.
So far so good hit the road average 8:30’s hat had come off/gloves I was feeling good.
I was now in the clouds heading back on the PW to the first CP at black hill, I climb the stile and looks for the famous PW slabs, not to be seen just knee high snow, slush and massive pools of ice cold water and bog.
My pace slows as my confidence over this terrain isn’t great I’m like bamby on Ice, the first Friendly face soon comes past me at about 4 miles Robin, we then hit our first obstacle a raging river formley a trickle at Dean Clough.
(Felt like we were going on a bear hunt, we can’t go under it we can go over it, we’ve got to go through it)
A member of the mountain rescue awaits us telling us to hold hands and chain link across.
The water was fast from the torrential rain and the obvious Snow melt, Robin had already got across but then appears Richard Mackie we then helped each other across the raging torrent.
My feet had gone numb at this point, neoprene socks ringing through my head only heard about them on Saturday, but how I wish I had them on.
I trodded on heading towards black hill, the snow getting deeper, the clag getting thicker and my feet getting colder at every cold encounter.
I reach Black hill show my number and then the first bit of nav to be done across Sliddens down to Crowden little brook.
I look behind and see Ian Charlsworth, this was the only bit of the route I hadn’t Recced I presumed I’d just follow someone but the clag was so thick I couldn’t see anyone insight other than Ian.
It was now a mile or so trodding over snow and trying to follow footprints, I was starting to get concerned that I couldn’t feel my feet and asked Ian if his feet were similar, he didn’t seem concerned so I just thought they would warm up on the way down to Crowden.
John Tomlinson flys past at this point looking strong 💪🏼 .
I know Steve Frith was planning on taking photos at little brook so I was planning my pose, I look down the steep banking see Steve, but I also see little ‘massive’ brook raging at pace and again people chain linking across.
I really didn’t want to cross, I already was concerned about my feet.
Majka passes me on the way down to the brook as I slow even more in my reluctance.
Ian dragged me across the river, I say hi to Steve and he snaps another picture, my hat and compass sagging in my coat making me look like I have a excess belly bulge. (Fab pictures)
I reach the road and the legend that is Shaun Dimelow is acting as traffic control on the A628 woodhead pass, I cross and look up towards Lawrence edge, the clag hanging half way down, the weather was calm down here I show my number to the next CP.
I bobble on around the Reservoir chewing on my flap jack and stamping my feet to try regain feeling.
I then focus on the shear mass that is Lawrence edge my way up to bleaklow.
The noise of shotguns from the shooting range cracking in my ears.
I hit about 10 miles as I fondle through the rocks and sheep shit my average pace 11 mm.
On schedule knowing I would lose a lot of time over the next 4-5 miles over bleaklow, but that was planned.
I hit the base of Lawrence edge the clagg/cloud lingering just above my head I could see people disappearing into the cloud base, the wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping again. My feet still cold I head up.
Half way up I had a group behind me following me, as I look back my right upper thigh cramps as my leg is stretched climbing the steep cliff face, I carry on moving focused on the summit grabbing on to rocks I climb, now my left thigh goes into spasm.
I let all the people below me pass and try stretch my leg out, I contemplate going back down to Crowden but thought my legs would sort themselves out when I get running again on the top and head to higher shelf.
I reach the top and look forward to what I can only describe as hell, the clagg thick and vision minimal, the snow still deep, with a moving current of ice water, which seemed to be flowing everywhere, the wind was relentless and the rain like sharp ice.
My compass bearing set I’m heading towards highershelf over bleaklow, sticking to my plan, over the groughs (peat eroded by water causing deep holes/channels in landscape).
I had no points of reference for navigation due to zero visibility and just stuck to my compass I try to run again and after jumping in and out of a few snow filled boggy groughs my feet still numb my calf cramps and I fall in pain pulling my toes towards me.
I get up and decide to change tact and head towards the Pennine way up wildboar clough hoping the ground would be easier, (a group following me aimlessly behind) I was wrong the whole PW was another river of moving bog juice and slush, I try to jump across my inner left thigh cramps. 😦
I decide to walk again ankle to knee deep in Icey muddy water, atleast now with a group, I keep trying to run on and off and traverse the groughs and bogs my right leg cramps and goes into spasm, at this point I’m starting to think my race is over.
My pace is nothing more than a leisurely walk as I’m scared to run in fear of more cramp, I pass the mountain rescue at Bleaklow head, determined to make it to Snake pass I’m tempted to follow the PW and miss higher shelf check point and DNF at snake, don’t know why but I carried onto higher shelf, passing Hern Stones.
SLAP!! waist deep into a Icey Bog, both my legs go into spasm and cramp trying to get out.
As I clamber out in agony starting to feel fed up, a fellow lady runner stops to check I’m okay I tell her I’m done, but now struggling to even walk I know the next half mile to the mountain rescue and next CP will be hell.
Every step my legs went into spasm, the lady staying close and making sure I’m okay, I kept telling her to leave as I was worried she would get cold too, I could not jump or stride over any bogs anymore so had to slowly just fall in.
I could feel my legs getting worse I couldn’t feel them shin down and anything above was in constant spasm, we found the super fortress plane wreck site, covered in snow – here’s a picture on my Recce 6 week ago.
Looked nothing like this today, she knew where she was now and started heading up towards the CP to get me help, I felt relieved knowing I was nearly at the mountain rescue, I can see the trigg point and the the lady runner waves goodbye and disappears off down to crooked clough.
My right leg is stuck in knee deep mud, it cramps tight again and my face slaps into a mud mound at the side of me – idiot I now have a face full of mud, the wind still epic and the Icey rain slapping into me.
The mountain rescue guy pulls me towards the trigg limping.
We move towards the rescue tent which was rattling in the wind, the guy on his radio speaking to the mountain rescue at snake, I tell him I’m done and he radios my number 189 down to race HQ.
I know at this point I need to get warm, my feet still numb I was starting to shiver, mountain rescue helped me get my waterproof trousers on and extra layers plus anything warm in my bag.
He handed me a cup of coffee from his flask and poured jelly babies into my peat covered gloveless hand.(was still looking for my dry gloves in bag).
I stay for 5-10min but mountain rescue stress I needed to get moving so he radioed down to snake so they knew to expect me, he sent me off with a group who they asked to keep an eye on me, I slowly started moving back down the side of the hill my legs cramping everywhere at any opportunity.
I decided to try to call Laura, thinking I’m high up I’ll have signal, I was right, she answered, but I wasn’t right I couldnt articulate properly, I just explained I’d be at the top of snake pass pick me up, I could hear Laura was panicked but I couldn’t reasssure her as my signal went.
I put my phone away and I was on my own.
The group had left me or me them, I’d wondered off down the hill and again no points of reference.
I actually wasn’t sure where I was or what direction I was facing, I couldn’t hear anyone just the sound of the rain spraying off my coat in the sideways wind.
I grabbed my compass out knowing if I headed SW ish I’d surely hit snake pass. I soon reached crooked clough, but I couldn’t see the other side and in my daze didn’t know if I was already at the side I needed to be at to follow trail back to PW. I took a gamble and went left and headed down.
I had to cross another river, I could see a huge waterfall to my right caused by the snow melt flickering through the clagg, as I climbed back up the other side my legs went into full spasm, I couldn’t move, couldn’t see anyone and could only hear rushing water.
I finally got up, I was starting to shiver as the wind had picked up and was hitting my right hand side,.
I found a trail.
My head was telling me I need to come off the trail SEast and I would meet the PW so I moved off over the snow.
I couldn’t see the trail or PW or the the edge of the clough, I was feeling confused and doubting myself, my heart was racing, what if I’m not where I think I am.
I suddenly here a voice, I shout I’m here? Not sure why, no response I could see the shadow of two trigger runners in the clag I shuffled as fast as I could towards them, shouting for them to wait, although I felt like rose in the titanic they just didn’t respond.
I finally catch them, I ask feeling confused are you heading towards the road, neither talk to me, so I just follow them, they are following the trail again down the side of the clough.
I explain I’m not feeling right, again no response, are we going to the road? No ones talking WTF I START GETTING PARANOID, I ask the guy you are not walkers are you ? No response? FFS.
I carried on walking Noticed one had a trigger number so I presumed they were okay to follow, I didn’t want to be on my own.
All my head was thinking is why the hell are they not talking, maybe they are? I was losing the plot.
We meet Drs Gate, these 2 guys start heading down towards Glossop, I shouted your going the wrong way, I know I’m acting strange but listen to me I’m good with maps, now they must think I’m even stranger.
But I was going to follow them, I felt safer with these two guys than on my own.
But they listen to me, we walk for 2 minutes and I hear traffic, the most amazing sound.
I’m shivering, I can’t feel my feet, my whole legs have spasms, I’m wet to the bone, and I can see the Mountain rescue tents.
What a relief…..
It had taken me over 2 hours to move less than 4 miles, over the worst underfoot I have ever experienced.
Massive well done to all that finished & all DNF.
15.2 miles in total 3000ft of climb and a dose of hypothermia.
Massive thank you to Woodhead Mountain rescue for thawing me out and looking after me at higher shelf and Snake.
Never again ????? Or unfinished business???