Race date: Saturday 20th September 2014
The High Peak 40 is a 40-mile loop of the Peak District starting and finishing at Buxton Community School, taking in the Goyt Valley, Hayfield, Rushup Edge & Mam Tor, Castleton and Tideswell and Monsal Dale, to name but a few highlights. With parts of the route named “the road to hell” and “the ravine of doom”, and over 5500′ of ascent, it is not a race to be trifled with, but it actually good fun if you can get through the pain. The ultra-running community is very friendly and it’s a relatively small field, with only 140 taking part this year. The route is about 50-50 road and trail, so suits both road runners and trail runners alike.
Only one, slightly mad Strider took on the might of the race this year, in search of something a little quicker than the 8 1/2hrs it took him last year (that’ll be me then). I buddied up with my running partner from the 2013 Highland Fling and we set off to “get a sub-8”. In fact, my buddy had a hidden agenda in that he wanted to beat the time set by one of our friends last year (7h29). Once I realised what he was doing I went along with it simply thinking that it was as good a target as any for getting “sub-8”. In the event, despite a “minor” navigational error which shouldn’t have happened and cost us a good 6 minutes, and despite my hip-flexors giving up after Castleton, we finished in a rather surprising 7h10 – 28th position overall.
The winner was the great Marcus Scotney in 5h20 – a whisker short of the course record and leading lady was Kate Whitfield (Mercia FR) in 6h58.
I can highly recommend this race. It’s well organised, well marked and well marshalled. There’s plenty of cakes and biscuits supplied to nibble on whilst your legs are recovering. It’s just a pity it falls on the same weekend as the Sheffield Way Relay.