This steep up-and-downer takes place from the Famous Grouse pub in Birch Vale. The last time I ran it was in 2010, when the day was crisp and sunny and the ground was rock hard with a temperature hovering around minus 10 Celsius. This year we were back to normal; the rain had poured all night and was doing little to obey the forecast that it would be gone by the 11am race start. The ground was swilling wet. I was amazed at the healthy turn-out of runners, given the conditions - 107 all told. Fell runners are a stubborn and hardy breed who don't let cold rain and lashings of mud put them off.
The final burst of cold rain hit us as we gathered at the bottom of the steep track to await our instructions, then right on cue it stopped and the clouds lifted as we slogged our way upwards. I immediately regretted setting off with wind-proof leg cover. We climbed to New Allotments to turn left onto the Bullock Smithy Hike route up to what I know as the Chinley Churn checkpoint. I think they call it Big Stone. We run the path down to Peep o Day then take a sharp left to contour the fell side round to the left. DazTheSlug's shoe gave up the ghost on this bit. Having lost its grip on his foot he was forced to complete the race with his foot hanging out.
We contour round to the left to eventually hit the final steep climb back up to our outward route. The sun is now shining warmly. From there another friendly marshal directs us sharp right on the downhill back to the finish line. I get a shout-out from ba-ba as I approach the line and he's walking back up, having finished nearly 12 minutes earlier in 3rd place. Well done Nic. I'd like to say that his encouragement helped me to go faster but I was already pushing my luck down that rocky track.
The sloppy muddy conditions resulted in generally slower times than in 2010, with the exception of Tom Jackson, who finished 2nd and was 3:13 faster than in 2010. That is some improvement. Well done Tom.
Christopher Leigh won again, like he did in 2010. Well done that man as well.
Just for the record I was 1:41 slower than in 2010. I'm happy with that.
On the assumption that it would rain during the race I took no pictures this time. Sorry to disappoint. If you want a contrasting perspective with links to pictures, have a look back at the 2010 edition.