By Helen Elliff

Saturday 20th May saw a great turn out representing WRC with members taking on all three of the races which make up the Festival of Running; The Ian Milne White Peak Marathon, Swift Half Marathon and Down in a Shot 10k.

We had Bethany Higgins taking on Down in a Shot 10k. Helen Elliff, Kat Davey, Stef Brassington, Tanya Rountree, James Windsor, Adam Lathbury, Liz Abrahams and Kathy Mitchell taking on the Swift Half and Jenny Godfrey, Nicky Rose and Kate Watson taking on the full Marathon

The event registration is at the Gothic Warehouse at Cromford Wharf, where seeing so many familiar faces definitely helped calm the nerves for my first Half Marathon Race.

At around 9:30am we boarded the coaches which would take us to our various starting points. The marathon runners went off to Thorpe (where the route follows the Tissington Trail before joining the High Peak Trail) and Bethany headed off to Harborough Rocks.

Having managed to get aboard the correct bus (first hurdle over!), I was dropped out a short walk from the Half Marathon start line at Friden Car Park. The entire coach load of runners immediately joined the orderly queue for the 3 portaloos!

Feeling refreshed I left my bag at the bag drop and we started a little after 11am with blue skies and glorious sunshine overhead. Definite shorts weather!

The Half Marathon runs along the High Peak Trail, a lovely flat route with stunning views, until it reaches the Hopton incline which is the first of three descents. Hopton felt like a welcome rest, the second descent down from Middleton Top, a little longer and steeper, but I was still feeling okay. Spurred on by the WRC supporters popping up at regular intervals with their shouts of support, noisy instruments and sugar filled jelly babies (advantage to running close to home).

By the third descent down to High Peak Junction my knees were really feeling it. I can only imagine how hard that section felt for the marathon runners!

On reaching High peak junction the route turns right along the canal, crosses a bridge and then comes back along the other side. This gave a lovely opportunity to see a few familiar faces across the canal.

The short final section felt hard as I watched Kat (who up until this point I’d managed to keep up with) pick up the pace and disappear into the distance in search of a PB! Within sight of the finish line I saw some more friendly faces giving me a burst of energy to complete in 1:50 (Helen E).

Everyone achieved fab times with a scattering of personal bests. Stef finished in 1:44, Kat in 1:49, Liz and James 1:54, Adam 1:55, Kathy 2:03 and Tanya 2:31.

Bethany Higgins took on the Down in a Shot 10k finishing in a speedy 46:44 which earned her 2nd female!

The full marathon runners did so well running through the heat of the day, with Jenny finishing in 4:57, Nicky 4:59 and Kate 5:00. A first marathon for Jenny and Kate!

In summary, White Peak Festival of Running is a superbly organised trio of races by MAC. Friendly marshalls, stunning views, choice of distance, free parking, transport to the start line and of course the prized mug on completion!