REMENISCING: EDALE SKYLINE 27 MARCH

Whiling away the Motorway miles on the way to Edale I wondered how many times I had made this journey on the weekend the clocks change.  It occurred to me that it is 40 years since I first did it.  1982 was the year I joined Dark Peak Fell Runners and the Bob Graham Club and had my first full season on the fells.  My first attempt at the Skyline was a torrid, dehydrated affair, I remember.  Maybe there is some symmetry, maybe this year I should get the Joss Naylor done as a bookend and bow out.  It is becoming undignified to be chasing cut off times.

It is always a nostalgic weekend, seeing old friends, the people who mentored my first runs out in the hills, who took me to the Lakes to try out the big Lakeland events which were the body and soul of fellrunning then.  Now they are greyer or hairless and some no longer even with us.

The Edale Skyline is not the Wasdale but it still commands respect, something which seemed to be lacking in the Tring team.  And we had a team plus.  Paul B had gone down with the Covid so was a non starter.  Andy C decided that one 20 plus mile run on a weekend was not enough and set out to run the Kinder Dozen on the Saturday.  Basically it involves ascending and descending  the Kinder plateau 12 times by tortuous rough heathery hillsides.  Jerome confessed that his new job has meant he hadn’t actually done any training.  Hugh texted me in the days before and asked, rather randomly, if he should run in fancy dress.  What did he think this was the London Marathon or something?  I did suggest he wore a deep sea divers costume in the hopes I might beat him.  But to turn up with no training or after a twelve hour run or in fancy dress does not give the race respect. I had arranged to meet Hugh and Andy in the Rambler but when I got there I saw neither.  Apparently Hugh was there fast asleep under a table not having had a single pint but I never saw him and settled down with my beer and chatted to the landlord who told me he had narrowly avoided being killed by a falling tree in storm Arwen.  It had caught him a glancing blow and he had got away with just two days in hospital and a lot of physiotherapy.  A bunch of Dark Peakers breezed in.  It is the tradition that they sleep on the floor of the Village Hall before the race rather than drive the hour home to their beds in Sheffield.  It’s the sort of club they are. We reminisced about the old days of fell running and how social media is killing clubs.  Andy joined us for a pint of shandy and I had a pint more than I really should have but the beer was so good I made my way back to my tent feeling no side effects.

I woke to a perfect morning.  The sun melting a light frost, a light haze making the hills look a little bigger than they are.  It was the sort of day when you ask yourself why would anyone not want to run round the valley skyline.  Jerome turned up at registration having made an early start from home.  He helped out at the Spine Race in January was ‘rewarded’ with a free entry for next year.  You’ve got to be either deranged or non human to do it once but to do it twice??  I have to say he does seem perfectly ranged and human when you speak to him but….

Anyway off we set up the hill and I was feeling rubbish.  All the way to Edale Cross I was stumbling along wondering if I should just go home.  Someone behind me was chatting:  ‘I just want to get round, not suffer too much, not injure myself and enjoy the day’  I heard him say.  That sounded like a plan.  At Edale Cross the marshal was an old mate and somehow seeing him picked me up and I settled into a good rhythm all along the slabs over Brown Knoll.  People stopped overtaking me and not because I was last.  Andy C was still behind me somewhere.  For every year I have done this race the marshal at Rush up Edge was Roger Baumeister.  Roger was the first person to compete a double Bob Graham within 48 hours.  On my own BG Roger picked me up at Dunmail when I was ready to give up.  He fed me boiled sweets and I followed him footfall by footfall all the way to the Langdale Pikes when I started to believe again.  He always used to give me a great bear hug when I passed his marshal point.  This year he wasn’t there.  Apparently he was away on a cruise.  Life moves on.

I was feeling better now and the good weather had brought out lots of walkers who made me feel like I was almost leading the field despite the fact I was almost last.  People kept me up to date with Hugh’s progress: ‘Oh, your mate’s in second’  I kept being told.  ‘Wow’, I thought, ‘hope he doesn’t blow up, that’s a quality run.  There are some good guys out today.’

The paving slabs had heated up my feet and I felt a blister forming.  I rather surprised the small girl who gave me a cup of water at Mam Nick by pouring it down my sock but it cooled the hotspot.  The ground was baked dry and even when not on the paving slabs it was like running on a road.  I think in the whole race I only ran through about 25m of mud and all the rest was hard pack.

On Lose Hill for the first time Pete and Maggie Lewis were not marshalling.  Pete set out from the Moot Hall with me that day in August 1982:  ‘I’ll just take a small bag and see how I go.  Might go all the way.’  Pete retired at Threlkeld but that saying lived on in Dark Peak history.  Maggie tried the round twice and on her second attempt came out of the ginnel onto the High Street as the clock was striking.  Fred Rogerson was there to confirm she had missed membership by 12 seconds.  Nobody knew what had happened to Pete and why he wasn’t in his customary position.

I had caught a few people along the Ridge and was pleased that none of them came past on the descent.  I was still feeling quite perky when I crossed the valley floor but on the climb up to Hope Brink my legs turned to jelly and it was a painful shuffle up to Win Hill.  The hard ground had been unforgiving on the quads and they had nothing left to give.  It’s always a struggle back from here, first down to Hope Cross and then gradually up onto Kinder Edge.  I think even Hugh suffered a bit here and lost his second spot  I thought of the days when I would have run this purposefully as I walked and occasionally managed  a shuffling jog.  Eventually I got back up onto the Edge and caught the breeze which cooled and soothed me.  Once again back down from Ringing Roger to the finish.  My slowest ever time.

Things move on.

I sat in the sun outside the Village Hall and Andy came in having beaten the cut offs but not mush else.  We ate our pies and drank our tea and complained about the lack of support from the rest of the team.  Hugh and Jerome were long gone.  I guess they hadn’t had  a lot of support form us.  I’m sure Hugh will be cursing himself for not breaking three hours.  Not a bad run though.  Probably would have beaten me even if he had worn the divers stuff.

RESULTS

1     George Foster          Matlock  2.39 .58

3     Hugh Chatfield                        3.00.00

137 Jerome McAllister                   4.14.47

179 Rick Ansell                              4.47.54

197 Andy Collings                          5.15.49

215 started 198 finished.      

(The winner, George Foster, has the third fastest BG time.  Matlock have an awful lot of exceptional runners.  Must be something in the water….)

TEAMS

 1 Matlock  12

 6 Tring      265….

7 Teams finished.

We absolutely stuffed Holmfirth.