Derwent Valley Run

‘New Year, New Me’, so the saying goes. My ambition for 2018 was to step further into running and to ensure I fulfilled this goal, I applied some pressure by booking onto the Mickledon Straddle fell race.

Other than previous organised cross-country races whilst at school, aged 13-14 meaning I’ve not participated in any organised races for 14 years, needless to say, I’m feeling the pressure of running alongside seasoned racers and decided with the guidance of my running mentor Rose that we’d go and reccy part of the race on a crisp Saturday morning in early January.

Ladybower Reservoir from A57 Layby
A crisp Saturday morning in early January at Ladybower Reservoir

We set out from a layby next to Ladybower reservoir off the A57 to run up along the west side of the reservoirs and come up to the Mickledon Straddle race route from the south side. We’d need to pass the 3 reservoirs; Derwent, Howden and Ladybower to then head up Howden Clough up to Howden Edge around to Cranberry Clough and back down to Howdens reservoir. Easy.

Derwent Dam overflowing after heavy rain
All three of the dams were overflowing like this, the sound was deafening.

Being a complete novice to running and mainly running in the evening I opted for a light breakfast of half a grapefruit, some pineapple and a bit of granola. The last morning run I attempted on a more substantial breakfast ended abruptly due to stitch and digestive issues. I’d definitely made the right choice for the first two hours at least. Then we had a minor navigational issue, we’d come off the trail too early and were way off east which added roughly 3.5km to our exploration.

After returning back to the main trail around the 3 reservoirs we decided to continue and headed around the southern circular loop of the Mickledon Straddle, heading up to Howden Edge is where the realisation that my feet had turned into two solid blocks of ice. It’d been raining for almost a week solid, and the bogs were truly well watered, the temperature was just above freezing and the icy cold wind was howling. My feet were senseless and the cold had begun to set in so after a steady stomp through the boggy marsh we had to get running again. Finishing the run-up to the top of Howden Edge helped get the blood flowing again and by the top, we were well warmed for the long downhill descent.

After around 3 hours the morning’s grapefruit rations were well and truly gone and by the time we’d reached Derwent reservoir I was hitting a low of no energy and everything began to seize up. Both of us were feeling the unexpected fatigue of what was meant to be a supposed short reccy and needed fuel. Luckily Rose whipped out some long out of date Jelly Babies and dished them out for something to keep us going.

The last slog back along the reservoirs really exposed my in-experience to running, my legs were tired and joints were aching, this was no reccy we were covering for me some serious distance. By the time we’d got back to the cars we’d covered a shocking 27km, that’s the furthest distance I’ve covered to date. Honestly, I didn’t run it all, we were out for almost 4 and half hours in the end but I kept moving and learnt a valuable lesson in the process. Always be prepared for the unexpected and never head out running with an almost empty stomach.