After the start I jumped in the van with Greg, a friend that was helping us over the weekend and shot up to West Mill Tor CP. He went to the top of Yes Tor to make sure the 5orunners made the turn East from the ridge and headed out onto CP1 and the Eastern section and I ran this route to CP 1 to check the signage was in place before getting a lift back to my car and going over Yes Tor, High Willhays, Dinger Tor, Lints Tor, Sandy Ford and Fordslands Ledge, Yes Tor and back to my car!
The weather was getting wild up there even by 8am, with the wind picking up A LOT, showers coming through and cloud coming down onto the hillsides. The good signage we had placed was invisible when the cloud came down - needing a flag every 10 metres!
I got back down the venue at about 9.20am to say hello to the Marathon runners and brief them about the day they were about to have… The weather was 100% FULL ON so one of the things I did first in the briefing was make EVREYONE show me their waterproofs!
By this time one of the checkpoint shelters had been taken down as it was too windy for it to stay there safely so I was fearing for the others too.
The Marathon started at 10am so I jumped in my van and drove round to Nodden Gate checkpoint on the far western side of the moor to get out and run those sections too, heading out backwards along the route to get there before the runners did if possible.
The cloud was right down by now, with all the moor covered and in very ow visibility, with very strong winds and lashing rain so I was somewhat fearful of an epic day on mine and my teams hands.
The first runner I saw was Phil, which was a surprise as he shouldn’t be leading the race!!! The leaders had gone slightly wrong and missed a sign but soon got themselves back on track via the GPX in their watches, meaning we just missed each other. Then I saw Fergy at Kitty Tor, buddied up with a couple of guys which was just as well, not being known for his navigational nous, in that visibility it could have been interesting!
Going across to Branscombe Loaf I saw Simon, one of our FR Athletes, come bouncing towards me on one of the roughest, wettest sections of the route. Having done about 35 miles it really was impressive running. We stopped for a brief chat but not for long as we were both getting cold up there in that weather. From Branscombe Loaf I ran the route backwards to my van at Nodden Gate, pasing lots of people now as they were making thewir way up the track. This was bone dry and dusty when we signed it, now a full stream running down it!
I had really been concerned lots of people were going to struggle to see the signage and get lost and not be enjoying it but it was completely the opposite! By the time I got back to my van I had passed maybe 30 people and they all stopped me to say how much fun they were having and how much they were enjoying it! Phew!
It’s funny, when I have been walking in the Lake District in awful weather, it is actually these days you remember more than the good weather days. You don’t necessarily hope for bad weather, but once the day is complete you look back on it very fondly?!
This is what happened on this day. People buddied up on the higher ground, looked after each other and bar 2 people everyone completed both races and had a great day in this HORRENDOUS weather!
The marshals and crew were amazing, battling with the weather themselves and making sure everyone was looked after in bad conditions. 2 of the brand hew shelters were ruined by the wind as they were being taken down and as organisers we all hoped that this was a once in a decade day we would have on the Dartmoor Highground!
I ran about 25 miles again that day, now at race pace, to stay in front of the actual runners and then we had to do another 2 days afterwards to collect the signs in!!! It was a hard day for both participants and everyone organising and crewing it.
Here are just some of the epic performances by the runners and crew;