Report by Jennie Stevens
Race Date: 17th November 2019
This was 5th annual running of the Peak District Autumn Trail Running Series. At each of the three events, a long route (14-17km) and a shorter route (5-8km) is offered. Both routes provide a course that offers a combination of high quality trail/off-road running and glorious Peak District scenery. Sunday’s race was the final event in the Autumn Series, the other two having been in Bradfield and Calver, and this one was most definitely the toughest.
The race had over 1500ft ascent and was a smidge over 10 miles. As always at these events, there was a staggered start and I was in the last start window at 9:30am. It was a murky morning, but dry-ish at this point. As per usual I was the only one in a t-shirt while all around me were in their waterproofs. The marshal checked that I had stuff in my bag, and before I could think about it any more it was time for off.
I dibbed in and started along half a mile or so of flat road, then the route took a couple of sharp turns and began a steep climb up into woodland, followed by another steep climb up onto the moors above. I was going through the usual ‘why am I doing this and can I really be bothered to run another 9.5 miles’, when thankfully the track levelled out and the beautiful Goyt Valley stretched out in front of me, thankfully not obliterated by the fog of earlier that morning.
The next 4 miles consisted of mostly flat running with a couple of descents, across the valley and down towards the reservoirs of Errwood and Fernlee. After running alongside both these reservoirs in the now pouring rain, the path took a u-turn and commenced a steady woodland ascent, back along the other side of the reservoirs and up to the drinks station, at around 10k. Again I was asked if I had waterproofs!
The route continued slightly uphill on good trail through woodland before descending into what turned out to be my favourite part of the run, despite being pretty tired at that point. The pretty woodland track snaked along and up, with the River Goyt down to the left. It was so beautiful and I made mental notes to run there again one day soon.
Before long the path took a steep turn up and out of the woods and once again we were on open moorland following a tough, rocky, boggy and uneven path on the final ascent of the day. This was a tough one, and despite my run/walking and huffing and puffing, I managed to overtake several runners on this route who were clearly all feeling the strain! There were several fake summits before, finally, the red and yellow ‘Summit’ sign, that the event organisers introduced early this year, was in sight! Woohoo!
On these events I always go for the gold timing award and I’ve always managed it, often within a couple of minutes of the cut off. I’d been thinking that on this race I might be getting my first silver. It had a tough profile and I wasn’t able to race the downhills (usually my strength) due to muddy conditions and me wearing slippers (if you’re reading this Phil Howson, that one’s for you!). It wasn’t until I reached the final summit that I knew I’d done it! I had 800m steady descent remaining. It was grassy enough to run at speed, before turning into a quagmire of mud and ‘stuff’ further down. I squelched down in a completely undignified manner, arms flailing and a great big grin on my face, fumbled to get through a gate (which had a photographer hiding behind it!), and was greeted by Kev videoing my gleeful finale down at the bottom. I finished with 2 mins to spare, really chuffed at my performance!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love these events. They are really well organised with good registration locations, scenic and well marked routes, cheerful marshals and lots of post-race cake! There is always a great course preview available to watch. In each series, decent prizes (usually Alpkit gear) are offered to the top two in each age category, and each competitor receives a nice certificate – Gold/Silver or Bronze depending on their time.
In both the Spring and Autumn series I managed to come 3rd FV40 and therefore just miss out on prizes! But kudos to fellow Strider Jessica Brooks who had three great runs in this series to take 2nd FV40.
The Buxton long race was won by Bob Templeman of Vegan Runners in 01:12:15, Lucy Wasinski of Glossopdale Harriers first lady at 01:26:26
The full results are here.