I wanted to raise some money for Ashgate Hospicecare, who cared for my mum when she was terminally ill in 2020. Ashgate Hospicecare looked after mum, and enabled her to die at home with her family as she wished. We would have really struggled without their help, and I thought that if I could raise money to help others, it would be something worth doing.
To be honest, it was all organised at the last minute, for one of the few weekends I would be free this summer. Several friends and family members kindly offered to pace and meet me at the road crossings for food and kit changes.
I had wanted to do the run for over a year, but committing to a date was the hardest part.
I was very unsure how far I would be able to run, but once the date was in place, it all felt a lot more real!
I have run on the Pennine Way from Edale to Gargrave over several days in the last 5 years, but not for as long as this. I would say that knowing the route well is a major advantage, as it helps cut down all those little moments of hesitation and indecision.
I set off at 6pm on Saturday, so that I would run the more familiar legs in the dark. Jon and Helen took me over Kinder Scout at a good pace, and Jack met me at Snake Top for the leg to Woodhead. As darkness fell, Oli met me for the night-time leg from Woodhead to Windy Hill near the M62. We were lucky to have a full moon, which helped improve visibility a bit. My pace was a fair bit faster than I expected, and I had to phone my sister Lucy to wake her up at 00:40 for her to have time to come and meet me at Windy Hill. I’m sure she would have preferred a slower pace, and a later start!
I ran from Windy Hill to Hebden Bridge alone, with enough light from the moon to allow me to briefly run without my torch on. It felt so good to be out in the hills at night! One of the sections here seemed to have no clean line to run, so I opted to knock into every boulder I could find. Getting tired also caused me to fall a couple of times, though with no real damage. Dawn started to come as I reached Stoodley Pike – the only person I passed on this leg was asleep near Stoodley Pike itself! At Hebden Bridge, Lucy joined me for the steep climb out of the valley towards Widdop Reservoir. I used a pair of Alpkit walking poles here to try and keep my speed up on the climb – by this point my legs were starting to feel mutinous!
Later in the day, I was supported by Libby and Steve, who, rather than keeping my pace in check as earlier friends had done, kept me going along at a good speed, and made sure I carried as little as possible in order to maximise my distance.
Quite a bit of the kit I used came from Alpkit, particularly the sale section upstairs in Alpkit Hathersage. I really like the Artlu 10L running backpack – it helped me a great deal on the night-time leg, where I went the longest without road support and needed a little extra kit. The Manta headtorch was also a good addition for the night run, and I used a couple of the Kepler short-sleeve merino tops, along with a pair of the Kepler boxers. The merino kit all came from Alpkit clearance, kit which had been used a little and had some small holes which I patched before using.
I ended up getting to Malham just before the deadline, having run the furthest I have ever run, and much further than I thought I could – 126km in 24 hours. I managed to get some pictures at the village sign, wash my feet in the river, and then fall asleep on my backpack for the journey home.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who supported me – those who donated, paced or met me at the road crossings. I wouldn’t have made it anywhere near as far as I did on my own!
I’m surprised at how good I felt afterwards. I expected to really struggle to get out and run the next day. Apart from a few sore spots, I did manage to go and run the next day (the cure for many running aches I find). Maybe long distance events are something I should aim for in the future!
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