It’s a “Hell of a Hill”!

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Due to my ongoing sore right knee I hadn’t entered any of the 5 in 5 days Hell of a Hill series of marathons at Rivington Pike but as the event drew near I wished more and more that I at least sampled one of the days. I’ve enjoyed the few times I’ve ran round there and it is so local to me it would be a complete shame not to have a go. With all this in my mind by the evening of day 1 and realising the only free day I possibly had was day 2, I cheekily messaged Phil the race director if there was a chance of a place the next morning. The reply came back “See you at 8:30”.

It was a frosty morning as I arrived at the start, off Sheep House Lane but I received a characteristic warm welcome from Phil, Melissa and all the helpers. The heated marque was very welcome for getting ready and having a chat to the other runners. Great to see fellow 10in10 runner Rik for the first time since the Brathay 10in10 back in May.

The race had a staggered start so we were in single file running along Sheep House Lane before we started our 8 circuits up the Pike. As well as being very steep the path up to the Pike is also very rocky and hard to negotiate, with the last section being a significant number of steep steps. The coming down wasn’t much easier with a very lumpy rocky path through the gardens made worse with fallen leaves hiding some of the lumps and also making it slippy. All in all virtually all the course was very technical and extremely tough going.

On the third lap, I thought I had the measure of the course but after managing most of the tricky downhill through the gardens I went through a stile, miss read the rocky path and found myself sprawled out on the floor covered in mud. I got myself up and brushed myself down to notice a good sized hole in my leggings and a bloody left knee. The water station was about half a mile further on and thankfully had some wipes. I checked out my knee, nothing too deep to stop me running so thankfully I could continue.

I spent much of the first half of the race running in the good company of fellow 10in10 runner Sally, it was nice to have a chat and a catch up. Also thanks Sally for shouting me back when I went wrong on the first lap. I couldn’t believe at the start of lap 5, Rik lapped me! Not much time to chat to speedy Rik this race! During the latter stages I hooked up with Ben, I had already lapped him but was too tired to push on past him so we kept each other company for my last lap.

After completing the course and returning home I downloaded the details of the race from my Garmin and was fascinated to see it had recorded 5212ft of climb! Probably my hilliest marathon ever. I must say I have great admiration for all the runners on such an extremely testing course and especially for the runners that came back each day for 5 days to complete the whole for this gruelling challenge.

Before starting the run I was hoping to complete the course in under 4 hours. I finished 3rd out of 26 with a time of 4 hours 55 minutes 22 seconds, much slower than I hoped but after experiencing this extremely tough course I’m not at all disappointed.

I must thank Phil and his team for putting on such a well organised event. A very tough challenge but the tougher they come the more rewarding they are afterwards. Almost tempting me to enter all 5 days next year but not sure I’m brave enough.

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