Event Date: Saturday 9th September 2023
Race Report by Daniel Abbott
A tale of defiantly Digging Deep, on a very enjoyable, runnable course in some very extreme weather.
NB, the race report is for the 50 mile race the 30 was also epic and extreme!
Driving into a car park in a field, at the edge of the Peak District, at 7am in September is usually met with a bit of drizzle, long sleeves, rain jackets and damp underfoot. But not today, no, today, when 48 people are planning to run 50 miles, with more than 8,500 total feet of ascent, the weather at 7am is sunny, no clouds, humid and a temperature already of 19 degrees!
I knew today was going to be a different 50 mile ultra to others I have done!
The route is lovely, start off near the Norfolk Arms, Ringinglow, run over Burbage Moor to Burbadge Bridge, then across Stanage Edge. Drop down to the river Derwent and up Win Hill via Parkin Clough. Next all the way round to Ringing Roger, drop down to Edale and set off up the Pennine Way and Jacobs Ladder.
Once that’s reached head to South Head Hill to meet the Pennine Bridleway which takes you to Rushop Edge. Follow that all the way to the back of Mam Tor, up the side of it, along Great Ridge, Hollins Cross, Lose Hill and then down to Castleton.
Once out of Castleton wind up through Cave Dale, skirt the quarry, go through Bradwell before climbing up to Abney Moor. From there run around Shatton Edge, past Shatton Tower and drop down into Shatton.
From here you follow the Derwent again all the way to cross the Leadmill bridge in Hathersage before heading up and crossing over to the Hathersage Booths. Next up the moors to pass between Higger Tor and Carl Wark and down the valley and up the other side.
Then finally back along Houndkirk Moor past Lady Cannings Plantation and back into the field at Hangram Lane and a well-deserved finish!
Simple! A lovely day out, an expected 10 hours finish time (I thought maybe even 9 and a half), that’s what I though a week before, when the weather forecast was a ‘normal’ September day, expected drizzle, a nice 15 degrees, perfect running weather!
Little did I know that the weather would turn the race into a completely different story. This is a tale of high temperatures, a battle with my own thoughts to even complete the race, some amazing views, some great moments, very special people and brilliant aid stations!
We set off at a prompt 8 am, it was 21 degrees C! I knew it was going to be a challenge. I’ve done a few 50 mile events and done well in them, I knew most of the route and planned to enjoy and race it. I also knew I would need lots of water, electrolytes and food.
The race until about 11am was going great, I’d met up with another runner, (Callum) same age, lots of things in common and he had won the previous year’s Dig deep 30 (we ended up doing the whole race together which is why from here I refer to things as ‘we’).
We were climbing Win Hill, through the forest it was hard on the legs but so shaded! Reaching the top reality of what the rest of the day was going to be like set in. It was 27 degrees at the top! From that point on until about 3pm we were out on exposed landscape. There was absolutely no shade, no breeze and apart from water at aid stations and a few streams, no way to keep cool.
Just as a side note the organisation for the 50 was so good there were 8 aid stations. Very well organised, very helpful (they did everything for you) and some even had water pistols, cold water and sponges, lights (for the latter ones) and amazing smiling volunteers! They defiantly were the saviours of the 30 and 50 mile events.
Back to being cooked alive in the Peak District oven! By the time we got across to Edale (best aid station with water pistols!) and climbed up Jacob’s ladder the temperature was reaching 30 degrees. It became a walk not a run, we wanted to run but as you got into a trot the heartrate would max out and you had to drop off again. When we did run and you passed people I was purposely running closer to them (sorry) so I could get a bit of a breeze for a second, it was getting a bit desperate!
Climbing the side of Mam Tor, for the first time ever in my running experiences a thought came into my head, maybe I should stop? It would be easy. This was the internal battle I had with myself for the next hour or so running along the most exposed part across Great ridge. I told myself, I could lay next to one of the small walls and stay there, I could be like a sheep and have a little kip. I was very convincing! I couldn’t eat because all my mind was thinking was, quit! I needed to get my mind off it, Callum tried, he asked me a question about my choices of tattoos, I began to think and relied ‘ can I answer in a bit? I can’t think!’ I really couldn’t. I was really quiet and if you’ve been running with me then you know that’s not like me so things were defiantly not right!.
I was in that dark place that lots of runners and ultra-runners talk about. I had wanted to experience this place because it is another part of training for longer and longer things (although I was expecting to reach it on a 100 miler). I’ve always said I want to go further to see what actually breaks me. Had I got to that point? I had started to try to convince myself I wasn’t thinking these things saying things like, ‘It’s hard and I want to quit but I can’t, it’s just heat, it will get easier!’ (although I don’t know how convincing I was being!)
But at that moment something amazing made me snap out of it.
There was a droning sound echoing across the Hope Valley, stood on the top of Lose Hill we paused, as a lone Lancaster bomber flew past us, low above Hope and Castleton. I had to ask Callum if he could see it too! ‘Yes!’ Few! I wasn’t going mad then! This one small moment of change switched my mind back, it was a conversation point, it was a shared unusual moment, and it worked! I found I wanted to move again, we dropped down off the hill and headed towards shade and Castleton aid station.
As we moved towards Castleton I had a plan, I knew from doing a number of Hope valley Round laps (https://www.outside.co.uk/outside-hope-valley-round) we could take a little diversion, taking us off course towards Hope village and to a little footbridge where we could get into running, freezing, deep water. It would add another mile onto our race but we decided to go for it, it was worth every extra step! Stepping into that cooling water, kneeling then sitting down and throwing cold water over ourselves was the best choice we made on the day. 5 minutes in the River Noe brought me back to myself again! With soaked kit, dripping hats and sufficiently cold buffs we headed back to the turn to Castleton.
The day was cooling off, at around 3 we found we could run again and as we had walked a lot of the route the legs were pretty happy to run. We met Callum’s friends at Bradwell aid station with the most amazing rocket ice lollies money could buy (£1.83, thank you Bradwell newsagents!).
It was time to get the run done now, any thought of completing it in a good time had gone out of the window, the temperature was warm but nice to run in. As dusk settled in Hope Valley it came alive with purples of heather, golden swathes of colour on the sides of the peaks we had completed and Burbage Valley was coming into view. Well it became even clearer once we had put head torches on!
Yes we had been running for so long they were needed! But what a great way to finish a race. Running along Houndkirk Moor, looking towards the twinkling lights of Sheffield as we were treated to one last amazing thing, an electrical storm over Sheffield. No rain or wind, no forked lightning strikes just amazing flashes, lighting up the clouds above the Steel City. It made me think about that bomber again and what Sheffield must’ve looked like during the war and the bombing raids. An amazing and thought provoking moment.
Then as quickly as it started 12 hours and 50 minutes earlier, we were at that field and the finish line! We were met with a medal, t-shirt, beer and food!
We had completed it! (sorry for this corny part but..) I had Dug Deep, not because the race distance was too much. That was perfect, it was well planned, and it was everything I had expected as a route. I had Dug deep because had got to a challenging place in my head where I had not been before, asked myself some tough questions and with the help of a good running buddy, a bomber flyby, some amazing moments, a dip in a freezing cold river and ice lollies. I had got through them!
That is something I now know I can use as fuel to push me as I go further into my ultra challenges.
Well done to everyone who completed the 50 and 30 mile races on that Saturday. There were so many DNF’s and I don’t blame anyone who decided or had to stop! To those that found that inner strength to finish, well done!
Finally some amazing stats for that extreme weather day.
Time completed 12hours 50 minutes 08 seconds. (I think on a normal day it can be run by me in sub 10 hours, that’s the plan next year).
50.07 miles completed, 8,576 feet of elevation gain.
I ran for 6 hours and walked for 5 hours (with some of the times not registering as the hill climbs were so slow!), it’s the most I’ve ever walked in a race, it meant I did over 95 500 steps that day!
On the top of Mam Tor the temperature reached 31 degrees, I think it was recorded as one of the highest temperatures in the country for that day!
My watch recorded my body temperature as reaching 39 degrees at that point on Mam Tor, no wonder I couldn’t think!! The race was on Saturday and my body temperate didn’t go back down to normal until the Monday morning!
Safe to say I will be doing it again next year and hoping for some more normal weather, at least I can say I should improve on my race time!
Dig Deep see you in 2024!
Daniel was the only Strider (that we know of) among 18 finishers at the Dig Deep 50 Mile race. No club information is provided. The men’s race was won by Michael Kenyon in a time of 8:41:43. Sarah-Jane Brown won the women’s race in a time of 12:25:50.
Full results can be found on the My Race Result website.
Results follow for the other three races featuring Striders at Dig Deep 2023: The 30 Miler, Half Marathon and 10k.
Three Striders were among 77 finishers at the Dig Deep 30 Mile race. The men’s race was won by Lee Parker in a time of 5:21:27. Penny Sadler won the women’s race in a time of 6:56:39.
Striders Results: 30 Mile Race
|14||Abbie Guerrier Sadler||FSEN||2||7:24:28|
Full results for the 30 mile race can be found here.
Three Striders were among 142 finishers at the Dig Deep Half Marathon. The men’s race was won by Tom Cowling in a time of 1:39:10. Chloe Paver won the women’s race in a time of 1:56:17.
Striders Results: Half Marathon
Full results for the half marathon can be found here.
Two Striders were among 112 finishers at the Dig Deep 10k. The men’s race was won by Mark Baker in a time of 00:44:29. Jennifer Reed won the women’s race in a time of 00:54:11.
Striders Results: 10k
Full results for the 10k can be found here.