Friendliest Runner, Kestrals, Frilly Knickers and Mitch Benn

I tried a new memory technique for recalling my runs for this my one and only Ultra I've gone back and done more than once...

The list in my head trots out as:

Friendliest Runner
Kestrel
Frilly Knickers
They're Lost - I'm not last
Mitch Benn
Wrong way up Win Hill
Jane's Mate
Magnum
Cement
Cup of Tea
Success I - not lost
Wedding - man in chef's hat
Stepping Stones party
Success II - not jumping a wall
Friendly faces
Success III - The right path
Success IV - The right bridge
Frilly Knickers
Cows - potentially viscous
Success V - not lost II
Victory - 2h faster than last year...

Well, that's exhausted me and I've not added the detail...

I was determined to go out slow and stay steady, the weather was a lot gentler than last year (16C instead of nudging 30) and I've done a hell of a lot of running between then and now (by the Garmin 1400km / 870 miles) so all was looking good.  Mentally I was in the right place for a PB, and physically I was ready...

 Slow up the first hill, walking up with one of 100 mile veterans, jog down and around... Cut through a woodland and step to the side to allow a horse rider emblazoned with learner signs, she thanked me and called me the Friendliest Runner of the bunch  - I don't know what I'd done to warrant such an accolade but it made me smile...

Moving up the hill to the ridge a Kestrel hovered overhead, another smile...

The hard paths over to Burbage are marked, mainly for the 12.12 race on the Sunday, the usual arrows and tape augmented by a pair of red, frilly knickers - I could conjure a back story... but again I smiled.

Checkpoint One, Jane's other half and mate cheering me on. Top up the water have a natter - I assume I'm last, as does the checkpoint...

Stanage Edge is busy, climbers are lizard like in their love of the sun, so I trundle along, high speed hopstoch...

Checkpoint Three is where the 60 mile people come back on our course, and watching some of them glide over ankle breaking terrain is a joy to behold...

And then I'm overtaken by a pair on the 30 miler... They'd followed the wrong arrow and for a couple of miles its just nice not to be last...

Then Win Hill... Last year it hurt, this year it still hurt... However, it had an unexpected bonus - a comedian who I like a lot - Mitch Benn walking down, as I struggled up - an exchange of pleasantries, confirm the date of the next book launch - and smiling at the vagaries of life I continued up to the checkpoint in the top - where the marshal informed me it was a "cheeky little hill"...

Pootling down Win Hill there was a chap I recognised from the start line going up the way I'd come down - he'd managed to miss the checkpoint... So I was back to not being last - more of a confusion than a smile...

 Jane's Iain was in Hope, with some friends, including one who offered me beer - tempting, but the lure of an magnum ice-cream and chocolate was far stronger.

Trot through Hope, up and around the cement works, and drop in Bradwell for the checkpoint and a cup of tea :-) This is the bit I'd recced as its where the ignominy of getting lost in the estate had happened.., The Recce worked - no problems - straight to the path and up to the edge...

It was a bit humid, and part of me was hoping for a thunder clap and a short sharp downpour as I trotted, held gates for the 60 miles, and dropped down, and then started back up.  A mild disbelief that I was on the right path took me a few minutes of confirmation - yes I confirmed that I knew I was right...

Through the top of Shatton there was a wedding in the barn, and through the slats, I saw a man in a chef's hat at one of the tables - again a back story could be constructed, but I just smiled, and unlike last year didn't need to stand in the ford to cool my feet down.

Speed walking along the Derwent, a path I know and love, you pass the stepping stones, where there was a party, swimming costumes and drinks in an attendance.

Through Hathersage, and up the hill - more 60 milers go past, all smiling and being friendly - there is something about ultras that brings out the sheer happiness of running...

I get the path right, and unlike last year there was no need to jump over the wall... More friendly faces as Iain and pals were at a pub on the way up to Carl Wark...

More friendly faces pass on the path around to Carl Wark, people I'd met last year who remembered me... the real joy of having found the right path to what some people think is an Iron Age fort...

Dib in to the checkpoint and work my way down to the bridge - no diversions, straight down...

Work my way up the broken path almost to Burbage again, cut back to the woods and follow the path down... The knickers are still there... the back story goes unformed.

Down to the Limb Valley, past cows (we'd been warned that they'd been a trampling recently), me going the muddy way and two of the 60 milers jumping the barbed wire fence.

The last couple of KM, don't blow it now... keep left, don't take the nice proper looking path with a bridge, head up the grotty path...

And then not lost, no nav problems worthy of the name, achy but not in pieces I finish.  10:58:29 is good, I'm happy, I'm smiling...

I only cramped once in the night, and the dreaded DOMS from sitting at my desk tomorrow are yet to come... The main things that hurt at the moment are the insect bites...

So, 31 miles, 5250ft of ascent, over two hours faster than last year... this smile may take a while to go....

TTFN

Paul

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