After weeks of rain forecast, it was a very pleasant surprise opening my curtains on Gallop day to reveal the sun pouring in! The sunshine continued as we headed up to Grindleford to get registered and find a parking space. 4 intrepid runners from Wirksworth were taking on the run this year – Graham R, Kat, Elaine and Clare. 600 people in total were part of the race, with about 200 walkers having set off earlier in the day.

We all lined up alongside hundreds of other runners, squinting in the bright sunshine and beginning to regret not packing suncream. The race started and we all set off eagerly, before quickly realising we had to queue for the squeeze stiles and couldn’t get going properly for quite a while! Pretty soon we were onto the first hill, up towards Eyam. The hill didn’t seem to let up for quite a while, continuing all the way to Great Longstone. By this point, we’d covered about half the race’s elevation in about a third of the distance!

From here, it was down towards Bakewell and onto the Monsal Trail. A slightly soul-destroying section of the route, dodging bikers, walkers and dogs, but significantly improved by the wonderful marshals at Hassop Station fuelling us with jelly babies and cake. I had to stop briefly here to take in the many cake options and be sure I’d made the best choice. Continuing along the trail, we soon turned off and began the second big ascent – a slippery slope of doom through Manner’s Wood. Ringing the bell on the golf course was quite good fun, but this quickly turned to despair as I battled gravity to make it up the mud-laden slopes. The mud didn’t improve much across the top of the hill heading into the Chatsworth estate – ankle deep bog had me questioning the strength of my shoe laces on multiple occasions, but I just about stayed on my feet.

We descended again, towards Edensor and Chatsworth House, and over the river past confused tourists. The route headed towards Baslow, where we passed the final checkpoint and along with it, the final chance to grab jelly babies. We then began the never-ending ascent up to Baslow Edge, and from there up some more to Curbar Edge. With the legs feeling pretty done-in by this time it was a real struggle, but luckily we were rewarded with gorgeous views from the top. Safe in the knowledge that it was all downhill from there, and with Grindleford coming into view on the left, thoughts of the soup, tea and cake at the finish line began creeping into my mind. We finished with a tough and techincal descent back into Grindleford, a quick sprint along the road, and the final check-in at the finish line!

Graham R was first home for Wirksworth, finishing 39th out of 400 runners in an incredibly quick 3 hrs and 13 mins. Elaine was back next in 4 hrs and 10 mins, followed closely by Kat in 4 hrs 13 mins. Clare completed the quarter, finishing in 4 hrs 45 mins. Super running from everyone!