Running - Trail + Terrain race 3:59:13  40.0 km (5:59 / km) +1292m 5:09 / km
slept:6.5 shoes: VJ Bold
Trigger. 1st, 24mins ahead of Nat, SPyke and Will Boothman in 2 3 4.
With Neil and Oli not racing I was backing myself to retain the trophy, but knew that the likes of Andy Swift, Josh Williams, Nat Winfield, Konrad, Jasmin, Dave T and SPyke and any other unknowns could take advantage of any blunders or cockiness. Not a stellar field by any stretch, just plenty of the Peak's 2nd tier.
The clag was in, it was drizzling, a bit windy (although from behind mainly) with underfoot conditions slushy, icy and wet - and churned up after Spine Challengers had been over it yesterday.
A group of 3 formed with Andy and Nat up to the Skye road. Andy pulled out a small gap but my plan for him was to let him hang out front as much as possible as he's a notoriously bad navigator. Closed up on the icy slabs, dubious river crossing and took a dunking in a puddle, wetting out all my gloves. Josh made us a 4-some on the Black Hill climb and we chatted away. They all followed me off the Pennine way and my bearing just about held to the correct stile. The rive in Crowden Brook was in spate, I got through first, head the boys faffing and eased on the gas to see what happened. They eventually re-caught me but I was happy it took them so long.
Crossing at Crowden they all set off towards the 'normal' line up Lawrence Edge, but then saw me go different and belined to follow me. Initially I was pissed off but then decided this was my chance to, if not drop them, at least soften them up in the rough stuff. Got the wrong path but found the most horrendous heathery slope I could onto the edge. Set a rough S bearing and dragged them across as many groughs and drifts as I could. Nav was wonky here - probably unwittingly veered into an OOB area but no way of telling up there today! - and we hit the fence a bit lower than intended. Still, stuck to taking the harshest lines and by the time we hit the Pennine way we'd split into 2 groups of 2. Andy and Josh never found Bleaklow head and ended up retiring to Glossop. Solid tactics.
Hit Shelf Trig bang on and was only here I realised it was my Pennine teammate Nat with me - not Josh as I though - which was nice. Pulled a bit of a gap to Snake Summit where parents were waiting with a banana and coke, with a cheer from Hannah and Alice (who noticed I'd dropped my compass when I had no idea) too. Past a few Spiners (nutters) then back into the terrain on a rough bearing, this section of the map hidden away so thought I'd free-style it. Plenty of falling in snow holes, Nat just being me. Rough made-up bearing from the bottom of Within clough to CP5 (aircraft wreck) was way wrong and we drifted way too right. Panicked a bit but I worked out roughly where we were (once i had got the right bit of map out...) and headed to the CP, approaching from the wrong direction but still in the lead.
A good effort up to the fence corner CP saw a small gap open to Nat. Then it was just a case of keep on trucking along the edge path, which way bitty, shitty and wet as a haddock's bathing costume - I was in my element but still running scared. The last route-choice worries me a bit but up high was crap so dropped of Kinder Low (nearly cramped in a snow drift) as planned and got to work skiing down to the bottom of Jacob's Ladder. The Pennine way hill wasn't fun but some random runners were a target and kept me going. Time for one last muddy wipe-out but was very pleased to see no-one near me coming of Grindslow knoll.
At Snake Summit (2h25) Nat and I had 12mins on the chasers.
At the Fence corner (3h02) I had ~1min on Nat
At Low end Trig (3h30) I had ~15mins on Nat
At the Finish I had 24mins. Nat was borderline hypothermic but I was glad to see him hold on to 2nd. We were given the team prize but unless it's done on cumulative time DP definitely won it (3,4,5 beating 1,2,11)
Pleased with my strength at the end and terrain tenacity throughout. Played it well tactically, working to my strengths and the others' weaknesses, but well aware I got a bit lucky, especially at the aircraft wreck.