The Trigger results and report by Jim Rangeley

Race Date: Sunday 14th January 2024

Distance 24 miles

Elevation: 5413 feet

Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Trigger, an annual Marsden to Edale fell race over Black Hill, Bleaklow and Kinder, which takes place in the middle of winter. Perfect.

This was the first race I’ve run that required real navigational experience with some amount of map reading and running to bearings or at least a lot of recce runs to get the lie of the land and the quickest route over the terrain.

But first, admin. Not only is there the usual mandatory kit for a fell race, but also due to the length of the race (33km is the most linear route, but expect to run further and for this to vary depending on route choice) and the time of year, a head torch and additional base layer were required. For me I was also racing in leggings for the first time ever due to the predicted temperatures. Alongside this was the point-to-point nature of the race. Driving wasn’t really an option as it would mean leaving the car at Marsden Cricket Club 38km away from where you finish in Edale and I didn’t fancy running back (although the head torch would come in handy I suppose). Thankfully Dark Peak runner Laurie Baxter organised a couple of school buses to ship a reasonable Sheffield contingent out, over the hills to Marsden and my wife Laura very kindly got up at 5.30am to drop me off at the collection point.

As we kit checked, collected dibbers and numbers ahead of the 8:30 start, the sun rose over West Nab. The layers stayed on for as long as possible until dropping bags in a Mountain Rescue trailer to be taken to Edale for layering back up at the finish.

Like most races of this sort we started with a quick dash to queue and jostle around a gate certainly not set up for the onslaught of 250 runners, over a dam wall and then steadily climbed along the edges of Butterley, Blakeley, Wessenden and finally Wessenden Head Reservoir. The climb continued steadily, now along the flagstones of the Pennine Way and steepened up to the first checkpoint just after 9km at the trig of Black Hill.

Heading down along the steady frozen descent toward Crowden and the Woodhead Pass, the running was simple and the stream of runners was obvious so no navigation required. At this point the view was amazingly clear – ahead I was able to see Shelf Moor and further still, a distressingly long way away, Kinder.

More red clad mountain rescuers and another dib stop came before the second climb to Bleaklow and Higher Shelf Stones. At this point the front runners of the running royalty of the Spine Race clattered their way down Torrside Clough with only 256 miles of running left to reach the finish just inside Scotland.

The climb took a little edge off my legs and I came to slow up a touch, but the recces and pouring over maps helped me in approximating where to split off from the Pennine Way and a more direct line to Higher Shelf Stones. Having found the path less trod, but a path all the same, I meandered my way across the top of Bleaklow and Shelf Moor cutting a reasonable chunk off other routes I’d run before. The clag had settled in around the trig so the last few hundred metres were based on faith of the bearing until the checkpoint loomed in to view. Dibbed, and away.

A section of the moor is deemed out of bounds due to erosion restoration on Shelf Moor, so I headed directly east, into less thick air and the next check point. I avoided the wreckage of the WWII superfortress on an approximately straight line to the checkpoints and more flagstones of the Pennine Way.

Hitting Snake Top, I saw the A57 and a collection of Striders including Laura. They came with good cheer, cake, crisps and a few tea urns. A brief chat, a refuel and I was off along the treacherous icy slabs of the Pennine Way, a career down the hill to the foot of the absolute stinker of a final summit atop Kinder.

Just like any climb up Kinder, this one is real tough going, a seemingly relentless hands on knees efforts, heart in mouth lung buster kind of climb. Up the gully toward the over hanging rock outcroppings that mark the top of our ascent which again was shrouded in gloam. The last checkpoint at the trig signifies only a parkrun to go.

This whole section across the top is a delightful mix of peat bog, frozen river and running to bearings. Here I made up quite a few places, although it’s impossible to tell how many as I picked up a pretty direct trod, both to Kinder Downfall and then to Grindslow Knoll. From the knoll the final descent into Edale caused a little cramp in the calf but with the church in sight and the very tempting possibility of sub 5 hours, I headed through the village and to the final dibber stop at as close to a canter (certainly not a sprint) as I could muster.

An absolutely great day out, as my first time running it, I was supremely lucky with the weather. I really enjoyed this race and as a Long Hilly (AL) race it was incredibly runnable. Wonderfully staffed by around 50 Mountain Rescue volunteers, overall a great race.

The male race was won by Joe Oldfield of Matlock AC in 3.05.21. The female race was won by Lisa Watson of DPFR in 3.54.01.

Striders results:

Pos Name Cat Time
56 Louis Wood MV 40 4.30.42
82 Jim Rangeley M Sen 4.57.12
98 Michael Raynor MV 40 5.11.49
127 Nick Burns MV 50 5.29.43
146 Jim Danson MV 40 5.53.23
153 Dean Young MV 40 6.08.01
161 Ian Stinson MV 50 6.24.23

Full Results: here

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