Thursday, 22 August 2013

White Peak Walk 26mi. 13/07/2013.

Although primarily a walk, runners are allowed on this low-key event from Monyash that sells out months in advance. A small and quite capable bunch of speedier ones is always in attendance and I could never finish first even though it is a ‘walk’ and I run it as if my life depends on it. It has the same principal organiser as for the Baslow Boot Bash in June. Peter Skinner’s attention to detail knows no bounds so everything is guaranteed to run like clockwork, from the personal welcome at registration to the pie-and-peas meal and cups of tea at the finish.

In light of recent race performances I was expecting a possible PB this year – that is until the heatwave arrived. After a hot and arid week, Saturday brought the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures hitting 31C, making it the hottest ever WPW. In stark contrast to last year’s mud and floods, the ground was baked hard and dusty and grass was turning brown. Livestock tried to shelter from the inescapable heat – sheep flaked-out on the ground and making no attempt to move out of our way as we passed, cows squeezing onto the track we were following to shelter under the trees. One cow was even sheltering under a railway bridge where it was enjoying a cooling through-draught.

Spot the cow.

It had been warm for so long now that even the Headstone Tunnel through which the Monsal Trail passes was less fridge-like than I’d been expecting. Relief from the heat was only mild and too short-lived.

Cool tunnels were a bit of an obsession today. Laura enters the Headstone Tunnel.

Just like last week on the Osmotherley Phoenix, I dipped my cap in every available stream to cool my head down, although the opportunities were few and far between. One time on the approach to Youlgrave I was temporarily blinded as the dripping water washed salt from my forehead into my eyes.

I enjoyed the rare privilege of running the majority of the event with someone. Like last year, Laura Appleby provided company on what otherwise would have been a solitary affair, with the faster runners ahead and the walkers way behind. (The slowest ones would take over 12 hours to complete, by which time it would nearly be dark.) Thanks for your company once again, Laura.

The heat caused quite a few retirements and a universal slowing down. During the course of the event I drank over 2 litres of electrolyte and over 1 litre of water. Because I kept well hydrated I finished feeling a lot better than after Osmotherley last week when the electrolyte drink ran low. My time of 5:17 was 22 minutes outside my PB of 2009, but I estimate the heat added half an hour onto my time.

Well done to Andy Robinson for being first finisher in 4:39 and well done to everyone for finishing in those conditions. Bad luck to Steve Temple who had to retire, jet-lagged from only just having returned from business travel in USA. (I suspect that he might have finished first otherwise.)

The old blurred camera was pressed into service again for some more pictures of the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, of which I will never tire to my dying day. I'll leave you with an image of one of the less runnable parts of the route.

The climb out of Cales Dale shortly before the finish.

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