Sunday, 16 August 2015

12.12 Peak District- Time for Liam to Dig Deep

It's hard to believe that it's 8 months since I broke my leg. Having spent the last few months finally starting to build back to a relative level of fitness I still hadn't entered a race event until now. With the Rat Race Coast 2 Coast race just a month away it seemed that I needed a test in August to see where my fitness was at.
At the start line of the Dig Deep 12.12 event in my Muddy Race top

Aside from a few 5-10 km obstacle race within sensible driving time I stumbled across the details for the Dig Deep Peak District running weekend with a couple of Ultra's on the Saturday followed by a tough looking 12.12 mile trail race and 10km. The 12.12 miler had an advertised 632 metres of ascent across the length of the course which sounded like it would create a great challenge to see where I'm at with my training now. I know I'm not really at a race fitness level running wise but just being able to enjoy a long event was key for me despite my usual competitive nature.

Training has been building up now and whilst I hadn't yet gone beyond 10 miles in training I was confident I have the cardiovascular fitness from cycling to get the the finish line. It's been a stressful time since the break and in honesty I was relishing the chance to see what the North-Eastern edges of the Peak District had in store. It's an area I've seen very little of in the past but the course was billed as taking in some of the best trails the area had to offer and for £17 and a T Shirt it beat the obscene amount of money needed for a jolly around a muddy OCR somewhere.

The joy of being a member of the Team Muddy Race OCR community is that you'll often spot someone else in a top and instantly break down barriers as I discovered at the start line.

You never know when you'll see another member of Team Muddy Race at an event

Starting out from the interesting surroundings of Whirlow Hall Farm, a charitable trust on the outskirts of Sheffield which allows access to a great local network of trails that lead into the Peak District we had a briefing in the barn before heading out for the event. The organisers seemed to have put on a nice event village where they'd set up a stage in the barn, there was a bar, a few stalls and Outside outdoor goods shop had bought a selection of the running gear. The shop they'd set up was very professional befitting their place as a sponsor of the event. In comparison to the 2xu shop at the recent Runners World Trailblazer events look piss poor and certainly gave a very good impression of Outside.

Due to the nature of the event and changeable weather conditions mandatory kit included a compass, route map and a windproof jacket which had been downgraded from full waterproof body cover the week before the event. There were a few grumblings heard whether the jacket was really necessary but having been caught out in the Peak District in summer before I was confident that if anything did happen my trusty OMM Kamleika would do the job needed to get me back to base.

The race started pretty much on time from inside the farm and we headed North along a section of byways and footpaths with a few short road links until we turned west along the Porter Valley. The climb up the Porter Valley became a tough slog as I settled into a rhythm as we climbed over 200 metres in less than 4 kilometers before entering the Peak District.

First water staion came aside Lady Cannings Plantation, a favourite spot for local Mountaion Bikers where a trail has just been put in place to encourage their use in the area whilst controlling the areas of the woodland they have an effect on. Climbing up the sandy byway beside the plantation a few mountain bikers ambled past us having a good nosey at what was going on but fortunately as the section was nice and wide we were easy to pass without incident.

From there the course swung right along Houndkirk Road (Dirt road) before sweeping down to skirt the edge of Burbage Rocks. As we got to Fiddlers Elbow we turned South onto the rocky, rugged trail up to Higgar Tor. At this point it had become a case of jumping from rock, to rock, trying to find a suitable route forward as the relentless terrain was starting to take it's toll.

We dropped down from Higgar Tor along a network of paths and through the heather before what seemed like an almighty slog back up to Houndkirk Road. Sections of this became more of a fast power walk than a run as we fought the terrain and our body's requests to shut down on us. Fortunately we all knew that once at the top of this section we'd be on the home run. Back generally downhill to Sheffield for the final 5 kilometers via the Ling Valley at Ringinglow.

By this point I was starting to become a little weary of my ankle. It had stayed relatively strong but I was going past my usual comfort zone. I'd been struggling somewhat on the downhill sections and with the more rugged terrain as my confidence builds back up. Hills weren't an issue and I was often able to re-take people who'd flown past on the downhills. As this was more a test run than a race for me I held back, admiring the impressive views back to industrial Sheffield while generally enjoying the run.

At the finish of the Dig Deep 12.12 Peak District at Whirlow Hall Farm. 

I got back to Whirlow Hall Farm in 1:55:05 which was over 30 mins behind the winner but I was happy with where my body is now at. The distance had started to hurt but I'd initially hoped to get inside the 2 hour mark with a 10 min/ mile pace which I achieved with some time to spare.

All in the Dig Deep 12.12 race for 2015 was a nice event. Tough terrain (which I like) some nice scenery and a good test for my fitness without destroying me. Definitely something I'd come back to although I'm tempted for next years 30 mile Intro Ultra event.

Swag- Tech T shirt and a copy of Trail Running magazine.

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