Saddleworth Ten Res’s 2022 report by Jennie Stevens


Race date: Saturday 5 March 2022

Race distance: 26 miles

Race report by Jennie Stevens

Ten Res’s is a ‘tough, high moor route around Saddleworth Moor visiting 10 local Reservoirs.  It’s 26 miles and just shy of 4,300ft of elevation, a category BL fell race. There are 9 checkpoints to navigate to, and it’s mostly unflagged with no GPS allowed. There is a start for non-competitive runners and walkers at 8am, with competitive runners setting off at 9am.

This year’s race took place on Saturday 5 March and, following The Trigger (January) and the Wadsworth Trog (February), was my third big event of the year.

An extra challenge for me on this occasion were the logistical difficulties of getting there, with a bike ride, a couple of trains and a couple of walks at both ends of the day, making it a very long day indeed, and crikey was I finished when I finally got home!

The day almost came to an abrupt end at 6am at Dore station, where the display said my train was delayed, and the app said it was cancelled! I was frantically scrolling through train times and wondering how to fix the problem when about 5 mins later the display suddenly said ‘on time’! Apparently there had been staffing shortages but they’d managed to crew the train from Sheffield, and sure enough, it came.

I arrived at the Dysarts’s Arms in Greenfield – where the race would start and finish – without much trouble. It was a glorious day, but cold and breezy, and the skies looked pretty threatening up on the hills.

I dumped all my stuff and headed to kit-check. My kit was heavy, as they’d requested we carry a headtorch, extra layers and an emergency bag on top of standard FRA kit. But to my surprise, the kit-check lady said ‘do you have a map and compass?’…and that was that! I got my dibber and number and went to get changed. I thought about taking some of my kit out, but decided against it just in case there were spot checks (there weren’t). I really wish I had.

I chatted to a few locals before we set off and asked for navigational difficulties to look out for – I hadn’t been able to recce the route at all but had run parts of it on various other races. During the race briefing I was pleased to learn that one of the tricky looking areas was flagged due to landowner request, so that was a bit of a weight off. The main area to be careful of was the route off Black Hill, I was told.

We were off at 09:02. Quite a lot of up to begin with, then it flattened out about a bit as we ran along Dovestones reservoir. I wasn’t feeling good. My calves were tight and my legs felt heavy. Everyone was running too fast for a 26-mile hilly race and I soon got left behind. I didn’t try to run faster – I knew better – but it still feels rubbish when you’re left behind. And at that point my legs really didn’t feel like they could run 26 miles at all!

We pulled away from the reservoir and up a stunning rocky clough towards CP1, and as the ground got more technical, I started to enjoy it more. There were several stream crossings and lots of clambering up and over rocks. I saw CP1 in the distance and went for it. About 6 people went straight past it on a lower path and I called them back.

Then there was a hands and knees climb up the flagged area. I can understand why the landowner wanted it flagged – this was pristine, wild and rugged moorland and in the sunshine it just looked incredible. I pulled myself up using clumps of heather, trying to grab it in a place where I wouldn’t damage it. Finally, at the top it flattened out somewhat and we had a lovely run across the moors to CP2 at the road. The cold wind was really picking up.

My legs had loosened up a bit by now and I was feeling much better. I dibbed in at the checkpoint and ran on. We were now on the Pennine Way, heading off on the stone-flagged path over White Moss, in the direction of Black Reservoir.

I tend to settle into my long runs after about 7 miles and this race was no different. I started to overtake people and would continue to do so over the course of the next 3 miles. I felt good and strong at this point, and it felt satisfying overtaking the people who’d set off too quickly at the beginning. Another CP at Black Reservoir, then over towards Wessenden for CP4.

Coming away from CP4 I ran past a walker and said hi. He asked if I’d set off at 9am, and then informed me that I was second lady. I responded that I very much doubted it as I am usually further back, and he did say that it was difficult to know for sure.

I 90% disregarded his comment, but it did stick in my head. There was a lady in pink up ahead who’d been in front of me, but not out of sight, for the whole race so far. She will now be known as ‘the Pink Lady’.  ‘What if…?’, I allowed myself to think. But we were only 10 miles in, with a very long way to go.

After CP5 at the A635 crossing, I dibbed in and continued in pursuit of the Pink Lady, on my second ascent of Black Hill so far this year. The final part of the ascent finished me off, and by the time I started the descent she was out of sight.

I was more concerned at this point in getting the route correct. Coming off Black Hill is hell. We were heading in the direction of Crowden on a different route to The Trigger. But it was tussocks and bog all the same. Less frozen than in January and really unpleasant for tired legs.

I was so relieved to find CP6 on Tooleyshaw Moss, as it obviously meant I’d gone the right way, I hadn’t been that sure.

And so began the descent to Crowden, and it didn’t start so well. It was windy and the ground was sodden. There was no one path to follow, instead we were having to dodge bogs and troughs, and it was cold and windy. There was a tailwind, and my hair was in a high ponytail and constantly in my face, I got cross. I was feeling sick from the effort and just not good at all.

Then, I saw the Pink Lady, not too far ahead. I picked up a bit and overtook a couple of guys. As I passed him, the second one said ‘go on, she knows you are chasing her’, and this again made me think ‘are we leading?’. I noticed that, annoyingly, she also had a high pony tail but her hair wasn’t blowing in her face. I got crosser, and then fell into a bog, completely.

It took me about 1 minute to crawl out as it kept sucking me back in! My gloves were now soaked and I was so grateful to have another (dry) pair close to hand as otherwise my hands would have frozen in the wind. I went off again in pursuit of the Pink Lady.

Before long I overtook her as she was struggling down a rocky ankle-breaker of a path. She made some comment about the difficulty, and let me pass her without much ado. I would be in front for the next 6 miles, still no clue if I was actually  leading. I passed 2 manned CPs and no-one mentioned anything about me being first lady. So how come everyone else seemed to know, but not me?

After Crowden we headed West for a short time before turning North onto the Pennine Way towards Laddow Rocks. I’d run 20 miles. I still felt sick, I was done-in. The scenery was incredible, the weather glorious. But I hated it, hated everything.

I checked my watch and it said 3,300ish ft. I’m sure I must have drained of colour at that point because there was NO WAY I was capable of another 1,000ft of elevation! ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’, I thought, and trudged along the path before the ascent started in earnest.

I felt awful, just broken. Dizzy and light-headed. I wanted to stop.

Then, I was overtaken by Man in the Buff. He wasn’t (in the buff) but he had an original Buff on so this shall be his name. He said ‘do you know you are first lady? At least that’s what the lady in pink said – she’s not far behind you’. I think I responded ‘oh f**k’. I didn’t want to be leading. I had nothing more to give. The first time this has happened to me and I couldn’t do anything with the opportunity. I wanted to get to the top of the hill, lie down, and roll to the bottom.

I realised I hadn’t eaten since 7am and it must have been about 1pm by now. I felt sick but I needed food if I was going to get to the top of Laddow, so I grabbed a gel. I made a hash of opening it and it went all over my face and legs! I grabbed the other one and managed to open and consume it properly, then stowed the sticky rubbish in my pack. Before long there was a stream crossing and I gratefully washed my hands and face.

Then, the Pink Lady overtook me.   didn’t care, it was inevitable anyway. I mumbled ‘I’m broken’, she said ‘I’m cream-crackered’. And off she went, seeming way too jolly.

Then I was finally at the top. OMG. Thank you and a million thank yous. I knew this next section towards Chew Reservoir and it was flat but really boggy. But I could see Chew, and beyond that was the finish. I had about 5 miles to go.

This section had about a mile of bog dodging and it was grim. The Pink Lady was in my sights. If I took a good line, I could catch her. But if she did, she could pull away. I overtook several more guys and closed in on her, but I couldn’t beat her, I was fine with it. I had nothing in me, and I didn’t care.

At the top of Chew we turned along the dam wall and onto solid ground. Oh, it felt such a relief for my feet to land straight and solidly, in spite of my aching body. My too-heavy pack was killing my shoulders, I just wanted to finish.

I started jogging down the path and passed a couple more guys. They said ‘go-on, you can get her!’. She was down near the bottom of the hill.

I thought about so much in those next seconds. I knew that if I made the effort now, I’d need to sustain it for the last 4 miles, and how could I do that?! Then something awoke inside of me. How could I let this chance go? I was overcome with emotion, actually shed a tear, then I started running…really running.

I caught her fairly quickly just as we were turning off the downhill section. I kept going and didn’t look back. I overtook more and more people on that last section. One of the guys I’d been talking to at the beginning was there and I said hi, to which he responded ‘bloody hell you’re doing well’. This was encouraging. I left him behind.

In the last mile there was just me and one other guy and he let me lead. There were a few hills and stiles and I swore as I clambered over them, it was agony. Then finally, the last descent.

The final dibber was in the pub. I ran in and everyone cheered and clapped! I was handed a bottle of Prosecco and an engraved glass. I had actually won! This was incredible, my first win, it felt amazing (still does!). My time was 05:09:05, also a new course record by almost 15 minutes!

The Pink Lady came in a couple of minutes later and I went over and we hugged. Without her, I wouldn’t have done so well. She gave me a great race, and at the finish many people were commenting on our performance.

More out of interest to myself than anyone else, these were our splits:

Jennie Stevens           Mel Sykes (aka the Pink Lady)
CP1       53:43                          53:04
CP2       01:10 :33                    01:09:41
CP3       01:30:39                     01:30:21
CP4       01:49:04                     01:48:50
CP5       02:18:43                     02:17:11
CP6       02:59:43                     02:58:31
CP7       03:29:26                     03:29:55
CP8       03:35:34                     03:36:33
CP9       04:42:57                     04:43:42
Finish    05:09:05                     05:12:44

What a race we had!

The overall winner was Gavin Mulholland of CVFR in a spectacular time (and male course record) of 03:47:19. 153 people raced, including 2 who retired. (94M / 59F)

Full results here:

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