Dusk til Dawn Race Report
Saturday 27th October was cold, very cold, bordering on Arctic. This did not, however, stop five intrepid MRC runners from heading out into the dark for the Dusk ‘til Dawn race.
The event has 50 mile ultra, marathon and half marathon races with our runners opting for the half marathon course. The route starts and finishes in Hope and takes in Lose Hill (476m) and Mam Tor (517m) via Cave Dale. Oh, and just to add to the challenge, if you don’t run fast enough the Grim Sweeper will catch you and remove you from the race with one swing of his scythe….
Preparations for this event started well in advance, the essential kit list is substantial and kit is checked before runners are allowed to start the event. Nerves were jangling as we set off in the car (Adrian, Emma, Steve C and John and Vicky S), we had no idea what to expect from the event or whether we would even pass the kit check. We arrived in plenty of time, most of us dressed in hi-vis winter running gear, Steve C in shorts!
We then listened to the race briefing, before donning our rucksacks and lining up at the start line. Although it was compulsory to carry maps and written descriptions of the route, the GPX files that we were able to download meant that navigation was straight forward, so long as we followed the blue line on the screen. The event usually starts at dusk, but this year there was an extra hour in daylight in memory of the event organiser’s father.
We set off along the road towards Castleton, Steve ran ahead, the rest of us set a steady initial pace. Once we reached Castleton we took a right turn along a lane with a gradual incline, before crossing a stile and reaching the footpath leading to the summit of Lose Hill. The pace dropped considerably and we walked the steeper parts of the path, but the extra hour of daylight meant that we were rewarded with amazing views across the Hope Valley.
Once we reached the Trig Point the descent was fun, Emma and I managing a fast pace down the grass slopes heading back to Castleton, making the most of the dwindling light.
In the centre of Castleton we reached our first (and for the half marathon route, only) manned checkpoint, all the others are virtual. An absolute feast awaited us with Jelly Babies, biscuits, mini scotch eggs and orange slices being just a small selection of the items on offer. Reluctantly we donned our head torches as the light was fading rapidly and left the check point behind.
Just around the corner the terrain changed dramatically. Cave Dale is steep and rocky, with loose stones and some running water. Luckily there hadn’t been much rain recently, so the water was a trickle rather than a river. The route became more grass and less rocky as we approached the top of Cave Dale, where the courses split. The ultra and marathon routes bore left, but our half marathoners continued straight on along a gravel track, before bearing right across a pitted grassy field towards Mam Tor. On reaching the main Mam Tor path we went from grass to a stone slab pathway. Crossing over the summit of Mam Tor was cold and very windy (regretting those shorts now, Steve?) but it was the descent that was hardest. By torchlight it was difficult to judge the depth of steps, so we had to take it quite steadily and I think we were all feeling our quads on the long descent.
Once off the Mam Tor path we dropped down onto the lane leading back to Castleton, before reaching the road to Hope and retracing our steps back to the Hope Sports Centre base. There we were met with a most welcome cup of tea and a great quality medal. Steve finished first, followed by Emma and myself 10 minutes later, with John and Adrian shortly behind. The only remaining challenge – to find somewhere to eat after 9pm near Hope. Our huge apologies to the other customers in a smart Indian restaurant who were enjoying their meals when five scruffy, probably quite smelly and certainly very loud runners arrived, all on a complete running high after such a fantastic event.
This is a great run. It was completely different from other races that we have taken part in and we were able to enjoy the experience and not worry about pace at all. I would definitely do this again, and am even considering the full marathon….