just a quick word about the Nine Edges Endurance Race that took place on Saturday. Amazing! The Edale Mountain Rescue Team organise the event and with the assistance of some fine volunteers, they make the day a brilliant experience. The route begins at Fairholmes underneath the Derwent Dam, then travels across Derwent, Stanage, Burbage North, Burbage South, Froggatt, Curbar, Baslow, Gardoms and Birchen Edges, ending at the Robin Hood pub outside Baslow.
The 20 miles passed surprisingly well, with me taking it steady in advance of this week’s High Peak 40. That said, I got a little carried away and ended up in a satisfying 24th place for having slowed down when my watch told me off.
There were of course a couple of moments to test my metal. Here’s an overview:
First was the ascent onto Derwent Edge, which could be approached any number of ways, but appeared to tempt the majority with an ‘along and over’, rather than climbing directly from the start line. Though unfamiliar with this section, I followed the group in single file as we all marched to the crest, finally beginning to run. The walk had already forced me into level 3 HR, which I put down to climbing so steeply right from the get-go. I overtook a few people in one swift move, but realised that HR was going to be counter productive and eased back into level 2 for as long as possible.
At Moscar just ahead of the first checkpoint it was boggy as! Knee deep for me, waist high for others (strange I went in less far than the taller folk). I must have chosen a better line of attack purely by chance. Still caused level 4 panic mode while scrambling about in the gloop.
After a steady, reassuringly firm approach onto High Neb, the hop skip and a jump that is Stanage went with the usual transition from enormous fun into laboriousness. Then all hell broke loose as the path through Burbage Valley invited the first proper running. Best of all, it seems the trail had been resurfaced, meaning a lot easier footing and softer reaction in my Inov-8 245s than normal. Bliss. One chap complimented my pack (Ultimate Direction SJ Vest) – cause he was wearing the same one.
Out the other end and it was through Longshaw Estate – not very complicated, though many suggest this as the one tricky part to navigate. I guess it’s the footpath taking you wide from Longshaw Lodge, then steering you back to the main track immediately after. There is a suspicious right turn that tries to lure you into the valley toward Grindleford. Don’t do it! Stay left and you’re immediately back on route.
Once over a surprisingly uphill stint across Froggatt and Curbar it’s one more rise past Baslow Edge, left at Eagle Stone (despite my having missed the short cut and doing an unnecessary dog leg), toward Wellington’s Monument. More downhill takes you to the final checkpoint before a last push up and over Birchens to descend at leisure and into the pub car park. Stop the clock, mine’s a pint.
Post run it was clear I’d carried too much water, having opted to use two 500ml bottles filled with Nectar Orange 2:1 concentrate. Very tasty, very effective, very heavy when you don’t need it all. I was pleased to have avoided any aggravation while wearing the Inov-8 3/4 in anger for the first time, though I had for the first time also used body glide on the parts we don’t mention. I guess not being able to feel whether it’s working or not means it is, but to be fair – I’ve never had trouble from the tights on their own.
If you’re tempted for 2014, I would highly recommend this race, especially since it’s all in aid of the rescue team. However difficult it may seem during this fairly demanding off road slog, you can always bear in mind that the rescue service head out in all weathers and risk their own lives to save others. There’s a free drink at the pub included in the price, so really no room to complain whatsoever.
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