Not your ordinary Marathon but an overnight race for teams of four and owing to an injury to another Bowland runner I was a late replacement in Yiannis’s “Bowland Vets” team.
This is how the organisers describe it -
- The High Peak Marathon is an over-night mountain marathon for teams of four, following a route based on the Derwent Watershed, starting and finishing at Edale Village Hall, Derbyshire. The classic 40 mile bog-trot around the wildest part of the Peak District was first completed in 1918 by Eustace Thomas of Manchester's Rucksack Club. The event is independently organised and run by Members of the University of Sheffield High Peak Club, past and present, and is fully insured and affiliated through the Fell Runners Association.
- The basis of the annual event as it exists today was conceived in 1972 by members of Sheffield University's Youth Hostel Society whose definition of a good night out was sometimes quite different from most of their fellow students. The High Peak Marathon is their idea of a challenge. Take the Peak's longest, toughest route and see who can complete it at night in winter. It is still organised by past and present members of what is now called The High Peak Club. A unique feature of the event is being greeted by a couple of cheerful students at every checkpoint.
The atmosphere before all races can be a little tense but before the HPM it is quite extraordinary. The staggered start means the first team starting at 23:00 and the others following at one minute intervals so that the tension is stretched to the maximum. Last year’s near perfect conditions are unlikely to be repeated for some years but this a cold clear night with sub-zero temperatures ensured conditions that only the top navigators (who wanted low, thick cloud cover) could complain about.
This is a difficult enough race but a slight misunderstanding on Win Hill meant we lost almost an hour between there and High Neb so that we were last there and at the Moscar checkpoint by a very considerable margin, perhaps 30 minutes. Yannis’s flawless navigation and indefatigable efforts be Leigh and Neil meant about a third of the field were behind us by the breakfast stop at Snake Road Top. By the finish we were 22nd of 36 finishers and 41 starters. Complete results are here.
The Vet Teams are placed according to an Age Handicap system which meant we were the “Oldest Team” in the race and although one Vet team had faster handicap time they also were outright winners which meant we were awarded the First Vet Team and with it The Rucksack Club Trophy. I have to say a huge personal thanks to Yiannis for the opportunity as well as his navigation and to Leigh and Neil for the way they looked after me throughout.
Enormous thanks are due to Richard Bradbury and his team of helpers for the 2014 High Peak Marathon
Thanks to you all!