It was a glorious day! After horrendous weather conditions the evening before, it was pleasing to see sunny breezy weather early yesterday morning for the start of the Dig Deep 'Intro' Ultra. A rather amusing title given the navigational requirements of this 48km, approx 1388M total elevation gain route across the Peak District - this ain't no easy jaunt! The atmosphere was buzzing at the start of the race, I was kitted up, and at 8AM, it was time to go.
I started in a pretty strong position, which was a little unnerving given how early on in the race it was, and I was conscious not to get tired when we had a long way to go and hours to run. From Whirlow Hall Farm, the route makes it's way around Burbage valley towards Stanage Edge. I was aware on the way to Stanage of another female runner close behind me, however I noticed her stride wasn't one trying to overtake, so I felt no need to alter my strategy.
What I love about this sport is the ability to make friends in amongst a time of challenge and competition, so within a few miles we got talking, and I could not have met a nicer running competitor! Kate Hastings (Totley AC) and I spent much of the race together as well as chatting with other close by runners, using light banter to support each other on such climbs as the infamous Win Hill. The ground conditions were very surpising, as I expected it to be very boggy from the heavy rain recently, however I finished that race surprisingly un-muddy!
From Win Hill, the route goes towards Bradwell, before heading up Bradwell Edge and then down to eventually follow the river Derwent. By the time we got to mid way along the Derwent, some runners, including Liz Lewin (also Totley) had strongly met our position.
Although I assure you there was no scrap (hehe), it became a very close race for the female top 3 from Hathersage, and it was hard to know what would happen with the end in sight but still some miles to go! I feel I have learnt a lot from this race in terms of tactical nutrition decisions that I made, but towards the end I began to feel heavy in my legs, which slowed down my pace. The reflection time after is always good to see how you can improve.
However, I was chuffed to come in 3rd woman 05:04:35 [1st female time 2014: 5:55:41], 2nd SEF, and 9th overall. Many thanks to Outside Shop for supporting me and the Dig Deep Festival. A fast pace and a great ultra.