I participated and completed my first Durham Dales yesterday. This is my 3rd event this year and follows in the wake of the Cleveland Survival and Allendale Challenge. I really like doing these events and wish I’d started years ago.
I was booked on the 32 mile Wolsingham – Middleton in Teesdale – Wolsingham circuit but decided to switch to the 17 mile circuit over Bollihope common: and run! This was certainly going to be the farthest I’d ever run, so I’d set myself quite a challenge.
The weather on the day was fab. Sun, some cloud and a nice stiff breeze to run into while climbing and running over Pikestone Fell. The climb to the ridge at the start is stiff but my practice routes include lots of uphills so I was able to keep to my gentle jog all the way up. The split point between the 32 and 17 mile routes was soon reached and then on to the first checkpoint. Regulars from the LDWA Northumbria walking group Steve, Julie and others were there to provide me encouragement.
On to checkpoint 2 on the B6278. Enjoyed this section – almost felt like fell running! Hi to John at the CP and a piece of chocolate tray-bake and I was back to it. All the runners took the road but I went cross country on the official route using the markers John had helpfully placed to navigate a straight line. Only to be met again by John when rejoining the B6278 with my plastic cup left at the previous checkpoint.
Now it was downhill along an old mining track all the way through to the next checkpoint at Bollihope. To this point I’d managed to keep pace with a group of younger runners, but the next check-point marked the length of my training runs. I was now into uncharted water and the legs were getting much tighter. I managed to run through to White Kirkley, but then the ground makes it harder to run with narrow footpaths and insecure foot landings. Not until the road from West Biggins was running safe again. I descended to the caravan park, but now my legs were beaten.
The time was after noon, the sun was warm and there was no wind. I was feeling slightly nauseous and I still had about 3 miles to the end and I wanted to finish and so walking was now the best option. Over and under the bridge again into Wolsingham, through the car-park and I was done. 4 hour and 6 minutes. Beating my next longest run by well over an hour and with an added walk at the end. Next year I’ll easily be able to beat my time simply by being able to keep running. Having previous experience of the route will also help.
A shout-out to the organisers. Very well done. I’ve volunteered to help in 2019 when Northumbria host the LDWA 100 and extra pairs of hands are needed. I look forward to that too!