So early

Was rudely awoken by the alarm at 04:00. Showered and started to feel awake.

Looking out of the window, I could see that there was a light drizzle so the ground was going to be wet. The forecast was for light rain until 06:00 then dry, if cloudy, the rest of the day. Temperatures up to 17° and it was already 15°

The kettle was boiled and I was soon tucking into a pot of instant porridge, it was far too early for the hotel’s breakfast.

I finished getting ready and left for the venue, some three miles away, on the Dearne Valley College campus just before 05:00 arriving early enough for a parking space very close to the start or more importantly, later, the finish.

The Start

I entered the sports centre and registered receiving my number, 118, and event T-shirt in a very fetching fluorescent green. I returned to the car to pin on my number and get everything ready for the start at 06:00

With the drizzle getting lighter and the favourable forecast, I left the coat in the car and stuffed a light fleece into the rucksack. I made my way to the start and waited.

Just before 06:00 we were called to the start and given the safety talk before being let loose. Suprisingly, a fair few walkers ran off from the start. The runners were meant to start an hour later to give the checkpoints time to get ready.

The first mile or so had us jockeying for position but by the time the sun came up ( and the torches went off ) we had settled into some pattern. I found my self with a father and daughter and a young fellow who told me that he had been talking into this only a week ago and had had no preparation. He stayed with us for a while then decided to run for a bit !

A muddy hill

The first five miles were along fairly good tracks but after crossing the railway at Elsecar we were presented with a very muddy uphill climb. This would not be the last of the mud!

Through field and villages and on to the first checkpoint, after eleven miles at Grange Park where there was malt loaf waiting ( other snacks are available ).

Dropping down from the checkpoint, I avoided last year’s mistake and turned right onto the disused railway bed.

Thirteen miles in, we followed the River Don and the Sheffield and Tinsley canal before going urban through Tinsley. Leaving Tinsley, there is a very easy to miss right turn ( another navigational faux-pas last year ) which I remembered and took although many others didn’t. 

Rother Valley Country Park

Checkpoint two was reached in Treeton after seventeen and a half miles. 

Just after CP2 I came across the newbie who had tanked off earlier. I asked him how he was finding it to which he replied “cruel!” I wished him well as I passed him. 

The route continued to reach Rother Valley Country Park then on to the half way point at checkpoint three in Harthill.

The way ahead

I had been making good time until half way having walked the twenty five miles in six hours but I suddenly felt a bit off – nothing definite, just wasn’t feeling great. I pressed on.

Up, out of the village before crossing a number of sticky, muddy fields before coming across Netherthorpe then Turnerwood on the Chesterfield canal and a much appreciated impromptu water station. 

After carefully crossing the railway it was through a few more fields before coming to checkpoint four where I did some maintenance to my big toe with the aid of a tub of Vaseleline.

From here the route zig-zagged across the fields before heading through Roche Abbey Valley passing the ruins of the abbey before a sharp ascent and finally to checkpoint five in Maltby.

Another rural passage through Maltby which became increasingly rural, finally leaving tarmac at Micklebring, descending to cross under the M18 then following more field paths to Firsby Hall Farm. 

Roache Abbey

After this it was mainly country roads / tracks until a descent across a field found us at the final checkpoint at Old Denaby. Last year, when I reached this checkpoint, it was dark ( and raining ) and I remember stopping for a cuppa and a cheese sandwich. This year it was still light ( and dry ) so I must be going quicker. My earlier dodgy spell seemed to have passed and I was picking up speed again.

The final three miles were all on good paths crossing another railway, along a canal and the river Don before returning to civilisation in the shape of Swinton. Along another canal then a path through a park and back to the sports centre and the welcoming finish banner. I walked the last half mile with a chap who had done it last year in a time similar to mine so was happy with this year’s effort.

We finished, according to my watch in exactly 12:30:00 but the timekeeper wrote 12:30 and a few seconds on his sheet. I’ll await the official results, however it was quicker than last year’s 13:20:13.

I’ve got my number !

After a quick change, I was on the road heading for the M1 and home which I reached just after eight thirty.


Quicker than twelve months ago.

The rain mainly held off ( a couple of minutes light rain late afternoon ) there was little wind and temperature-wise very mild for October.

I’m not sure what caused the iffy spell, perhaps the heat, not enough fluids, not enough breakfast or maybe even that I started too fast. I was suffering for nearly twenty miles but it passed and I finished strongly.

The legs were rather achey but that’s easing off.

If I should decide to go for the hundred next year, at least I’ve got my qualifier in.

The Route Taken

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