Nine Edges Endurance Event Results & Report

Race Date: Saturday 9th September 2023

Race Report by Laura Rangeley

Things I learnt running my longest race to date (actually my longest run ever as well) in a heatwave:

  • Slowing down is in no way a failure (even if you’re really quite slow to start with)
  • Little and often is the name of the game when it comes to hydration
  • Shade is underrated
  • No ice lolly will ever taste better than the one I was given mid-race (thank you Nigel)
  • Edale Mountain Rescue are absolute superstars
  • I am much more resilient than I give myself credit for, and can achieve more than I thought possible

The Nine Edges Endurance Event, organised by Edale Mountain Rescue, is a 20.4 mile off road challenge from Fairholmes to the Robin Hood near Baslow. Traversing the high moorland and gritstone of Derwent, Stanage, Upper and Lower Burbage, Froggatt, Curbar, Baslow, Gardoms and Birchen Edges, the route takes in some of the most amazing views the Peak District has to offer and can be completed by walkers, runners, or climbers.

I signed up for the Nine Edges back in April, fresh from completing the London Landmarks Half Marathon in a new PB time and looking for a different kind of challenge (aka I was fed up of flat roads), egged on by my distance running husband Jim who enjoyed the race immensely last year and reckoned I’d like it too. I then immediately proceeded to panic about it – 20 miles of trail and fell?! What on earth was I thinking?! I continued to be intimidated by the distance and was full of self doubt until race day itself (including, in one particularly wild moment, booking onto the Grindleford Gallop in the hope that having a 22 mile race to fret about would make 20 seem less scary). But building up my distance and spending more time on the trails has been the focus of my summer, and the 18-mile Belper Rover went well (more on that here), so I knew deep down I was as well prepared as I could be – and I’ve had a bloody lovely time getting there.

And then the weather forecast showed that race day was scheduled to be the hottest day of the year with a weather warning for heat. Fantastic. Cue my gentle ongoing anxiety about the event going into overdrive, frantic googling of “early signs of heat stroke” and strong consideration given to declaring my first DNS. I also wondered about setting off earlier with the walkers, but then I’d have been forever recorded ON THE INTERNET as a walker with no mention of the fact I’d have run at least some of it, which simply wouldn’t do. A firm talking to from Jim (himself struggling from a niggly ankle and unsure if he would be able to complete the distance), including a discussion of hydration tactics and reassurance that a race organised by Edale Mountain Rescue was probably one of the safer ways to spend a Saturday, plus a reminder that if I didn’t at least try I’d be guaranteed to be furious with myself forevermore, and we somehow made it to Fairholmes ready to run – complete with full FRA kit, waterproof trousers, thermal base layer and all, as confirmed in 2 additional emails from the race organisers that yes they knew it was going to be hot and yes they were still mandatory. (I may have felt a bit ridiculous packing a pair of gloves, but conditions can change so quickly on the tops despite the forecast, and even if you personally don’t need these items you never know when your kit could help out a fellow competitor too – I’ll be carrying my survival bag with me on all runs out in the wild moving forwards). With my drybag full of emergency items, a diverse snack selection and 1.5L of water stuffed into my pack (enough to keep me going until the first of 6 water points en route), I felt like something resembling a rotund turtle in a Ronhill cap. My nerves got the better of me again and I had a little cry as we moved into the starting pen, until Jim reminded me not to waste my well-hydrated self on something as silly as a few tears. It really was a battle against my head to make it to the start line.

Anyway. Onto the race (finally – if you’ve made it this far, you too have demonstrated resilience and determination). There’s something about running that helps my self doubt just drift away. From the second we actually set off, my fears melted, along with the rest of me as it was already 25 degrees by the time the race began. The first mile commenced with a short pelt across the grass in front of the dam wall before the first, and largest, climb of the day. It was a long, tough slog up to the top of Derwent Edge but the atmosphere was fantastic, there was true camaraderie and plenty of communal chat, predominantly checking that we all realised quite how hot it was. There wasn’t even a whiff of breeze at the top but the VIEWS were just absolutely out of this world – despite being in non-optimal conditions, I was absolutely loving it and taking time to drink in the scenery as well as remembering to keep sipping on my water.

In what seemed like no time at all we reached the first checkpoint at the peak of Derwent Edge. My exclamation of “the top already?!” didn’t seem to be the consensus amongst the runners around me, but my positive vibes could not be subdued as I skipped across the stepping stones towards Salt Cellar before a lovely descent down to Moscar Lodge and the second checkpoint, which was also the first water stop. The first 10k had absolutely flown by for me and I could hardly believe what a wonderful time I was having. Sadly this wasn’t the case for all of my fellow Striders, two of whom I saw heading back to race HQ at this point, citing the heat and the ensuing slow going as the reason for stopping. It’s too long a way to go if you’re not feeling it – I was very fortunate (and a little surprised) that I was, but at only a third of the way through the race at this point dropping out was a very sensible option for those not having fun.

What with stopping to chat to those ending their race, topping up my numerous bottles, eating a gifted Calippo and half a banana, plus dunking my buffs in a bucket (a cold, wet buff round the wrist was an absolute lifesaver), I probably added about 10 minutes to my total race time but I embarked upon the next climb up to Stanage feeling refreshed and I’d completely given up caring about how long it was going to take me anyway – definitely not a day for PBs and pushing to the limit would have been frankly stupid for me. One of the things I love about trail running is that the pressure to keep to pace just doesn’t affect me in the same way it does on the road, which I find incredibly freeing, especially so when I’m running solo.

Laura checks in at a trig point

I’ve run bits of it before but never all in one go, and turns out Stanage Edge is REALLY long, and very exposed. This is the only bit of the day that dragged for me, I was starting to run out of water and couldn’t believe I was still only on edge 2, plus I almost got lost (despite effectively just needing to keep going in a straight line) – but again, the joy of being outside and surrounded by views that took my breath away kept me going and eventually the trig marking the end of the edge came into view. Another fab descent took us to Upper Burbage Bridge and the next checkpoint, where we were greeted by a polite young chap with a supersoaker who was all too happy to help us cool down!

Water topped up again (I reckon I got through about 5L during the race) and I really found my stride on the two Burbage Edges, a bit less technical than what had come before and at the risk of sounding like a broken record just absolutely gloriously beautiful. This stretch of decent running continued through the Longshaw Estate, where as we approached half marathon distance we were treated to our first shade of the day. It was part way through Longshaw, as I dallied at a junction, where I was pointed in the right direction by a very nice chap called Paul. We stuck together through the next few miles, both preferring to run with company, as we emerged somewhere near the Grouse and through some more lovely shady woodland towards Froggatt Edge. Much chat about beer and books was had, and it took us all of about 7 minutes to find out who our mutual friends were. I do love Sheffield society.

The next checkpoint had my favourite marshals (a high bar, they were all LOVELY) including a kindly lady who was like the race mum for us all and was keen to ensure we were all covered in suncream and keeping hydrated. The climb onto Froggatt was tough, and half way along the edge I continued on solo as my new pal Paul and I found our paces and run-walk tactics started to differ a bit more, before hitting the penultimate checkpoint just before Curbar Gap, where I was labelled “the most cheerful runner of the day” by a marshal. What a transformation from the weepy worrier of over 4 hours earlier! I’d reccied the last part of the course a couple of weeks prior, so started to get excited that the end was figuratively in sight. The heather was still looking pretty resplendent up on Curbar too and the less technical path was welcome at this point in the race. A left turn (that I somehow almost missed, despite the recce) took us to Baslow Edge, past Wellington’s Monument and another nice stretch of gentle downhill. Then the final checkpoint was in sight!

A short road section gave us wonderful views of a herd of serene Highland Cows wallowing in a river, the first time ever I’ve felt genuine envy over the activities of a horned beast, before the final uphill of the course. I didn’t even try to run any of this bit, it was the hottest time of the day by this point and the sun was really beating down. The last km or so is downhill again to the long-awaited pub, but narrow and more technical. My tired legs were getting a bit lacklustre at paying attention and after getting round 97% of the course unscathed I ended up rolling an ankle stepping off a small rock. The field was very spread out so with nobody around I just had to have a little minute, a few deep breaths and a word with myself, but luckily I was still able to put weight on it and continued hobbling down towards the road. I managed to ignore the pain in my foot and put a bit of a burst on for the last 100m down the road and up some particularly cruelly placed steps into the finish area by the Robin Hood pub, and that was it! Fin!

Rewards and refreshments

It could have been an underwhelming finish as it took me so long that everyone I knew had already enjoyed their free pint and caught the bus back to Fairholmes, but just as I reached the front of the beer queue New Pal Paul spotted me and very kindly gave me his drinks voucher, so I had a nice time sat in the beer garden reflecting on my day and deciding whether I liked lager shandy or bitter shandy best (I’m usually a bitter kinda gal, but on this occasion the colder lager version was the clear winner!). Jim, who had successfully finished around 90 minutes prior, came to fetch me to save us some time from negotiating bus logistics and delivered the news that my new black cap was now about 30% white… turned out it was salt from my sweaty little bonce, what a delight!

Overall, despite the incredibly tough conditions I can honestly say I adored this race – one of my favourites ever. Superbly organised and supported, a bargain at less than £1 per km (and profits go to Edale Mountain Rescue), just an amazing day out surrounded by breathtaking scenery and doing some real good to my mental wellbeing. Most people I spoke to at the end who’d run this before said their times were up to an hour longer than they’d expect on account of the heat, and of approximately 300 signed up there were just 159 runners who finished (this doesn’t include those who set off before the mass start), so I’m really proud of myself for putting my doubts to one side and embracing the day. The fact there are plenty of walkers makes it a really inclusive event too, so to anyone thinking of stepping up to a longer race I’d definitely say not to be too intimidated by the distance and give it a go. I’m so pleased I made it to the start line.

The race was won by John Crew of Dark Peak Fell Runners (3.09.48), and Sarah Harrison of Totley AC (3.18.48).

Five Striders were among 159 finishers at the Nine Edges.

Striders Results

P Name Cat Cat P Time
9 Sian Evans F 2 3:33:27
23 Jim Rangeley M 7 3:54:22
62 Jim Danson M40 27 4:33:35
81 Ste Doherty M40 30 4:53:13
105 Laura Rangeley F 12 5:14:18

Full results can be found on the Fell Runners Association website.

scroll to top