Down to only one fell race a month now, it felt good to be back racing at high intensity, even if it was a bit damp outside. The turnout was large because it was the final counter in the Accelerate Gritstone series and the Goyt Valley series. The Goyt Valley series was my reason for being here for the first time.
Based out of Burbage Institute, our route took us up the same lane out of Buxton that I've followed most years since 1998 on the High Peak 40. However, over the top of the first climb, instead of turning right to follow the old quarry trackbed, we crossed onto the fells for an odyssey into the unknown (a new, much more interesting route) down to the Goyt Valley reservoirs. We crossed below the dam on the reverse of the Shining Tor race finish and along the other side to pick up the Whaley Waltz route up to Windgather Rocks before continuing along the tops to Shining Tor. The rain had finally begun to drive in from the right but we didn't mind because we were running. I felt sorry for the marshals, though.
After Shining Tor it was a left turn down to the valley again to pick up the Goyt's Moss race route up the other side and over the top towards Buxton. Barny Crawshaw had overtaken me on the climb to Shining Tor but I was chasing him down again all the way to the finishing field on the outskirts of Buxton. I couldn't quite catch him. I gasped for breath in the finishing gazebo feeling thoroughly used-up and knowing I'd done it justice. As the rain pattering down on the roof did its best to drown out the panting, a marshal asked to see my kit. Rotate bumbag around to expose full waterproof body cover and a survival bag. "Ooh, I wish they were all as well equipped as you." With compliments like that I'll come back next year, for sure.
Back in the hall we enjoyed home-made soup, cheese rolls and cake and tea while we chatted and waited for the presentations. The few runners who had completed the Grand Slam of all four Goyt Valley races (Shining Tor, Whaley Waltz, Goyt's Moss and Windgather) received a nice glass trophy, which was quite a surprise considering we didn't have to pay anything to register for the series (Hayfield, how's that for competition?).
Rob Turner was out on the course taking pictures despite the poor light conditions.
Picture courtesy Rob Turner. His full set is here.