The High Peak 40 was ruining peoples knees for it's 25th Year this September and on Sat 17th I yet again staggered round to decide definitely, absolutely, NEVER AGAIN will I enter into this event (as I have for the past 4 years). Although as far as trophies go - the HP40 25th anniversary mug is a fine piece of memorabilia and much better than one of them crappy medals you get sometimes (you can drink tea out of it for a start - and dunk chocolate hobnobs in).
I think the problem I have with this event is mainly the amount of flattish road/trail. Not complaining about the event its self - just that I don't seem suited to the route. The things I like least in a run are road and straight trails. The trails through some of the dales (*Monsal Dale et al) are somewhat akin to canal towpaths - long, straight, knee grating slogs. Personally I prefer the ups and downs of the 1st section much more. Having said that, the event is incredibly well organised by cheerful people who really go out of their way and provide superb support. And only £20 too. Take heed corporate money grabbing event organisers - £20 is all it takes, if that. AND YOU GET A MUG!!! (and a cloth badge - don't forget the cloth badge)
It was good to meet up with some of the usual faces; Mark Richards, Steve Hennesey, and Bob and James Smith, and also good to meet 'the optimistic runner' - who as it happens was going very well and has every reason to remain optimistic.
Steve Hennesey plodded along with me for a while near the end. He was recovering from the Bullock still and also his solo and self sufficient Pennine Way journey that took him 6 days and 270 miles with no support and wild camps. Steve mentioned the days when many Goyt Valley Striders would race the High Peak 40 flat out - and not with lots of ultramarathon training (they used to just call it a 'long day out' or 'big race' then), but on the back of lots and lots of short fast local fell races. Steve managed a 5hr 45min HP40 one year and came 3rd. I have tons of respect for anyone who runs whatever the distance - but I'm not sure how many of us will still be running the HP40 in 20yrs time as Steve was this day.
Si Moorhouse was marshalling on the track to Southhead and gave cheerful encouragement as we trundled past. I must confess that I felt rather good for the 1st half and even imagined for a while that I was on for somewhere around 7hrs, then; no, actually more like 7.30 maybe, then; if I can just keep up this pace I'll be OK for 8hrs, 8hrs it is ...I'm not going to make 8 hrs am I. (no you idiot you're not!), 9hrs? ....Im not giving up like last year!!!
I enjoyed plodding along with Nick Ham for a while. Nick was going very well after the Bullock Smithy 2 weeks before. He skipped off towards Tideswell as the clouds began to loom. I particularly hate that road section. The chipshop in Tiddser smelt wonderful but only made me feel worse for having bought no
There was a dead sheep laying idly by the path in Monsal dale - its bloated and tightly swollen body washed pristine white from the river. Foam oozed from its grinning mouth and I wished I had been hydrated well enough to produce foam like that. Eyes wide open - I returned it's stupified gaze as I crawled past. It's leggies jutted out like an upended stool, and we smelt it before we saw it (and at no extra cost!). I didn't have my camera - terribly sorry.
I could hardly get out of the car when I got home. My foot had swelled to a disproportionate size and had actually jammed, stuck on top of the accelerator making me reach over 30mph as I hurtled homeward, squinting through tearfilled eyes. 'Help!' I cried, 'HEEEELP!' as I tumbled to the pavement in a crumpled heap.
Nobody told me about aching leggies - they will be hearing from my solicitor!!!