Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Dovedale Dipper. 26.5mi, 4,000'. 01/08/2010.

I slept well in the days following the Lakeland 100 and I have been left with a rampant appetite, which I take great delight in satiating every few hours. I have been amazed at my recovery. Once dried out, the feet have quickly healed, including the deep heel blister that was giving me cause for concern. Within a couple of days my legs were giving no hint of what I had just subjected them to (I couldn't have run last Thursday's 5k race so successfully otherwise). I must have plodded so slowly that I didn't trash them. More importantly, the right knee niggles progressively less with each event I subject it to (it seems the more extreme, the better). Therefore I did not feel too guilty or reckless for standing with the other runners at the start of the 8th Dovedale Dipper from Hartington. I felt even less guilty when I discovered that I was not the only one who had also done the L100 on the previous weekend. We ultra runners are all as sane as each other.

I last ran this event in 2006 and I have longed to return ever since (injury prevented me in 2007) because of the friendly and enthusiastic organisation of the Rotary Club of Matlock, but also because it goes through my favourite local countryside, the Derbyshire Dales, and the weather's always nice. The Lakeland 100 being one week earlier this year avoided the clash and allowed my return after a 4-year hiatus.

The Dovedale Dipper is renowned for being a hot and humid affair. This year was one of the mildest (coolest) so far, yet the sun was still making its appearances and the going underfoot was still firm and mostly dry. The walkers on the full marathon had already set off at 9am to the peel of the church bells and the 15-mile 'ramblers' had been sent on their way at 9:30. Now nearly 10am, enthusiastic event organiser Cliff Cartwright was poised with his hooter and giving us our send-off speech. The gist of the message was: “Don't go off route, climb walls and be rude to the farmer when he protests like last year or there will be no more runners on this event”.

The low-key, informal, no-pressure atmosphere meant that everyone seemed reticent to move forward, so I found myself standing near the front, a place I had no right to be because I'm slow. The hooter sounded and we trotted down the lane and turned right. The field soon started to sort itself out as the faster runners slowly moved past. Most notable was 'pink vest man' and one other, who rapidly vanished into the distance as if it were a 5k race, not a hilly marathon on technical terrain. They were obviously racing snakes in a class of their own. I last caught a glimpse of the prominent pink disappearing along the High Peak Trail towards checkpoint 1 at 5.2 miles as I climbed towards that disused railway line, having circumvented the familiar barking dogs at Vincent House farm.

As we overtook the walkers along the route, we passed through checkpoints at Sparklow (5.2 miles), Longnor (9.0 miles), Revidge Wood (12.8 miles), Wetton (17.3 miles), Castern Hall (19.6 miles) and the junction of Mill Dale and Wolfscote Dale (22.4 miles), to finish back at Hartington Village Hall (26.6 miles) for lashings of tea, dinner and pudding. As is typical with these events, we find ourselves repeatedly leapfrogging with other runners as we each experience our bursts and wanes of energy in the legs. This time it was Drew's turn to be repeatedly leapfrogged by me (or vice versa).

As the temperature rose towards a comfortable 20°C and the sun made its appearances, it was an utter joy and delight to be running along, up and down such beautiful terrain. I feel so privileged and blessed to live in such a beautiful country and still to be able to perambulate at relative speed through it. Just like the old times, I enjoyed pushing myself to my limits to finish in 5:07. It may have been 13 minutes slower than my PB of 2005 and it may have been well over 1 hour slower than the winner's time, but it was MY best effort and I was well chuffed to have been able to do it, under the circumstances. I love this life!

I took many more pictures along the way this time. Please play the slideshow and absorb the beauty.


  1. Wow Nick, I'm impressed by the speed of your comeback. I've took a weekend of long running, but hope to be back - barring niggles - for Long tour of Bradwell. I really enjoyed this event last year, when I recall it was both warm, muddy and hillier than the average LDWA challenge despite the High peak trail section.

  2. Hi DE. I'll be there - just the small matter of Tracklogs maps to update. See you on Sunday for another 'day at the office'.

  3. Hi, I found your blog through another Runner I met. It was nice meeting you. Great pictures, really captured the day. Next time I think I'll try and take a few. I had a great day really enjoyed it.


  4. Thanks Roger. I've just checked your blog. Nice paintings! It was good chatting to you too. I envy your turn of speed. I could only dream of running that fast.

  5. Thanks, I seem to be running well at the moment for some reason. Although I have upped my training and I'm not 100% but I think barefooting has helped. Are you doing the long tour of Bradwell?

  6. Oh yes! I've just completed the Tracklogs map route for printing tomorrow. It's 33.2 miles with 6,681 feet of ascent. Are you doing it?

  7. Yeah I spoke to Alison Brind about it on Wednesday and entered online. I might as well keep going, it's all a bit last min but I'm sure it'll be fun :)

  8. Hey up Nick.
    Sounds like an cracking day out.
    I love that area too, its partly what got me into outdoorsy stuff.
    Maybe see you there next year.

  9. sbrt, you can't go wrong with an event in the Derbyshire Dales. The next one's on Sunday from Bradwell. If I don't see you there, or in Buxton for the High Peak 40 in September, I'll see you on the first weekend next August in Hartington.

    ro6er, be careful with what Alison tells you. She'll have you doing more than is good for you ;-) See you Sunday.