On 5th August 26-mile Big Dipper and 15-mile Little Dipper trail races (which turned out to be 16 miles) took place in the Peak District.
Organised by Peak Running, this is a challenging trail event for runners. The race starts in the village of Hartington and takes in the stunning scenery of the National Park with exceptional views across the rolling countryside, rivers, and farmland. Most of the course is on grass land or trail tracks with hills that even on a dry day are hard work (the course sees runners negotiate around 2,300 feet of elevation).
The 2023 event took place after weeks of rain and conditions on the day were what even the average hippo would describe as a “bit much”.
The prize at the end of this ordeal was a hot potato with chilli and a lovely cup of tea.
For the Big Dipper there were 3 GRC members who set out to make the club proud (the other 5 members did the opposite). Shouldering a mandatory kit list that would have made Scott of the Antarctic wince were Peter Jennings, Catherine Payne and Rob McArdle.
Setting off in the pouring rain, Peter was first back of the trio, making light work of the quagmire, in an impressive 5:25:45 having caught up with the Little Dippers partway round the course. We *think* he enjoyed himself. He was 40th in a field of 184 nutters.
Catherine Payne and Rob McArdle crossed the line together in 6:16:17 having been cheered on at the end by the Little Dippers. This gave them joint 80th position.
At the opposite end of the scale of athletic achievement were the Little Dippers. A mark of the terrible conditions was that around 25% of the entrants decided that it was a terribly silly idea and didn’t start. There was no such common sense from the 5 GRC members who turned up with their emergency whistles and deeply fashionable foil blankets at the ready.
Robin Atter appeared to be in shock at the conditions and had never been so quiet prior to a race. However, once he set off and stopped chuntering, he got his head down to belt round in 2:46:25, getting to his prize potato first out of the GRC Little Dippers. This netted him 17th place and the opportunity to phone his soggy clubmates who were still 5 miles from home to let them know how tasty the potato was.
The other 4 Little Dippers ran/slipped/walked/fell together and made the most of the food stations serving sweets and sodden pork pies. Race times were largely irrelevant for this group (a calendar would have been more appropriate than a Garmin to measure their elapsed time). They managed to go wrong after 1 mile and were thankfully put back on course by a nice marshal in a Honda Jazz who honked his horn at them.
Vicki Ball was mildly hysterical throughout most of the event having lost the feeling in her hands and feet early on. The thought of a hot potato at the end spurred her on and she crossed the line in 4:23:10 and had a very splendid day out of the house. She remarked that the potato was worth every step.
Having prepared for the event by watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sylv Hull followed in 4:23:11 thanking the Amazon gods for her waterproof socks.
For Sam Dodwell, the day was one massive wardrobe malfunction. Having lost his trail trainers, he was forced to wear the shoe equivalent of slick tyres. These were as much use as a chocolate teapot and meant he had to negotiate the hills in the manner of a dainty old lady trying to avoid breaking a hip. Frankly a pair of skis or stilettos would have made more sense. He still had a lovely time and managed to only fall over once, which was a minor miracle in itself. His embarrassing finish time was 4:29:19.
Kate Marshall clearly found the event tiring and took every opportunity to acquaint herself with the floor. She scored an impressive 3 falls, a new PB. Tragically, nobody was quick-witted enough to catch any of the acrobatics on video. She was chuffed to bits with her potato and a time of 4:26:18 which remarkably wasn’t her slowest at this event.
Continuing the tradition of bringing the club into disrepute, this embarrassing gaggle of clowns came last of the runners in the Little Dipper.
Race winner was David Hill of Badgers Running Club in 2:00:50, the female winner was Liberty Underhill of Badgers Running Club in 2:37:058.
Photos c/o Frank Golden Sports Photos