Darrens Dash | Richard Iliffe | 15/06/2014
'Darren's Dash' 15th June 2014
15/6/14 was my first fell run, I hadn't planned to drive 140 mile for what I thought was an easy introduction to Fell Running on Fathers day, but my reasons for wanting run this race, it wasn't going to stop me!
The race is the brilliantly and very aptly named 'Darren's Dash' - for those not aware Darren Holloway was a close friend of our family and Darren is the reason and inspiration I took up running 16 months ago!
So...I sat off around 9.30 and headed off to Longtown, somewhere past Hereford, to meet up with Rob & Carol Sharatt who discovered the race and also ran it last year, I arrived bang on time, 12:30 at the school house, Rob duly got me a cup of tea, and after a quick look at the surroundings, Reality very quickly set in, I had to run to the top of a very large hill, although I now understand it was part of the Black Mountains!
So at 1:50pm off we went over the stiles (was actually a fence) to meet in the field for our briefing. I am sure to the locals it was all crystal clear, but I only understood, it was a downhill start, THROUGH a river, UP, UP, UP and UP, across, then a long downhill, though some (lots of) mud, and back UP to the finish. I then prayed I wasn't the slowest and that I could follow someone. I must point out though, that Ilkeston Running Club got a great mention from the organisers during the briefing.
So at 2.00pm we duly set off, down the hill, and through the river, all very enjoyable, We started the ascent through a few fields, and over a style , at this stage I would compare it Cardiac Hill in Shipley Park and felt sort of OK, the first mile 'bleeped' up at 10:27, not too bad considering I was wet through and running uphill (and severe congestion at the style)
At the 11 minute mark, I think that is when the going got tough and my strides got shorter, but I was still 'Running'. I managed to carry on (I actually passed a few people who were now walking) to the next style , where we made a right turn, onto some solid (ish) surface, this only lasted 100 yards then it was back onto the ascent.
It was here that reality slapped me across the face, I looked up! - Bloomin eck (or something similar) is what I said to myself, that looks steep!, I now wasn't running but more like a very slow shuffle , then it was a Walk, and I don't mind admitting it. Up in front I could see a single file of other runners walking, a quick look behind , and others were doing the same - so I didn't feel too bad.
Head down, I started the climb, approaching what I thought was the summit , the local Mountain Rescue(!!!) took delight in shouting out "well done, 10 more minutes of climbing" - This is the bit that really hurt and by now it was hard enough to walk, let alone run! the 2 mile bleep duly sounded, last mile took 19:12 - that is my slowest mile ever!
At 2.2 mile I reached the top, and actually took a minute to admire the view, take a photo, and to get my breath back, according to the Garmin, the summit was 1,925 feet. So the climb was around 1,500 feet - it felt further.
I set off across the top, at a more normal 8:30 pace, but this slowed again (on purpose) as I took in the views that were breathtaking, at one point Para-Gliders were throwing themselves off the MOUNTAIN, below us.
It was going across the top (very uneven underfoot), that I had my first glances into what fell runners see every week, and I now know why Darren loved running in places like this - the scenery, terrain and views were truly breathtaking. I took a few more minutes to have a few quiet thoughts, waved to 'Daz' and picked up the pace to catch the runners up in front.
I caught the runner in front of me, and a further look up, all I could see is what I would describe as a scene from the Lemmings computer game, Runners were actually disappearing over the edge!! I got to this point and the 4 mile mark bleeped. The mountain rescue volunteer took great pleasure in pointing me towards the descent, I was going over the edge!
To me it was steep, very steep, but I recalled what the experienced guys (thanks Colin, Alan, Tony, Paul and others) at Ilkeston Running Club keep telling me, and I "let myself go" (sort of anyway). I then had flash backs to some pictures I had seen of Daz's injuries picked up whilst descending....Yikes, here goes!
I am sure at times my legs may have been out of control, but it felt good to be going down hill (on a very uneven and loose surface) another runner in front moved out of the way (probably in fright), I passed on the offer of water from a station as I couldn't have stopped anyway. I then heard a 'Go Ilkeston Boy' shout from a female marshal, I shouted 'Thank you' back and waved frantically, all I could hear was laughing so I think she heard me !
I was now approaching the bottom, and thinking frantically how to tackle a cattle grid at speed, as I wasn't going to stop in time, but at the last minute I saw the open gate at the side, a quick swerve and I was through, and could hear someone bellowing , "well done 300 Metres to go". Back over the river we had run through the start, up a few steep steps, sharp turn right I could see the finish....100 Yards uphill sprint and I had finished!!
A quick dip in the river (with shoes, shorts and vest on) and it was off to make the most of the free Tea and Cake
My official time was 65:39 (including taking photos at the top), position 42 (from 76) over a distance of 5.66 mile, but for me the time and placing was irrelevant. I just wanted to experience a fell run, and to try and experience what Daz loved doing. Im sure he was probably laughing at me, but boy did i enjoy it and I will be doing more of it!
Finally, special thanks to Rob & Carol for allowing me to join them on what was truly fantastic run.
DazH alias Laidbackfellrunner - you are a legend!