Sunday 22 May 2011
“Your first challenge is up to the best already”
“Tougher than the Yorkshire 3-Peaks”
“Thank you for one of the toughest, friendliest and most well organised events I have ever taken part in”
“Running with dogs…. what a novelty!”
“Whoever made the Victoria Sandwich…. will you marry me?”
“I didn’t hear any complaints, which is unusual for an inaugural event”
“It was wonderful to be part of your village for a day”
“The food at the end was a particular highlight”
“You have created an event that could go on past my lifetime”
“I was greeted with a smile at every checkpoint”
“This was my 97th challenge event and truly excellent in every way”
The day started for many of the organisers at 6am, setting up the Manifold Cottage Garden for the BBQ, bacon butties and teas. At this time of the morning, the sun was shining and there was little wind – lucky indeed! The village hall opened just before 7am and immediately allowed entry for the communications team, Raynet. By 7.30am entrants were already walking through the door, having parked in the playing field. The registration squad was set up. This included a busy “entries on the day” team
At 8.30am the vicar, Anne Ballard held a 10 minute service in the Old School Garden. It had been advertised as “Bless My Sole” and true to her word, as they sang Jerusalem, she sprinkled holy water on their shoes, with a blessing for a safe walk.
At 8.55am the organiser, Noel Peat addressed the assembled 200 walkers and at exactly 9am they started by snaking their way from Alstonefield down to Milldale. The wind started blowing fiercely for the first climb of the day, Baley Hill. With the first shower of the day the conditions on the top, near The Nabs, were so bad that two participants decided to retire early and walk back to their car!
The runners left Alstonefield at 10am and some had already overtaken walkers before the first manned checkpoint (CP2) at Ilam Hall. There were 5 checkpoint marshals at Ilam as the organisers had expected a “rush hour”. This was also the time of another ferocious shower of rain that made the marshals’ tick-sheets soggy and the biscuits somewhat moist. The route continued through Ilam Country Park along Paradise Walk and then through Musden Wood, with the strong scent of wild garlic.
Through Checkpoint 3, just short of Calton, then up and over more hills to reach the hamlet of Throwley, with the stately ruins of Old Throwley Hall. Soon after there, walkers would have enjoyed spendid views of the cliff-edge of Beeston Tor in the Manifold Valley. A steady climb past Weag’s Barn brought them to the village of Grindon and Checkpoint 4, where they fought hard to keep plastic cups on the table in the strengthening wind. Grindon is almost half-way round the course and here there were 8 retirees, the most at any checkpoint. This was a pity, as many feel that the next section, to Ecton, is the most attractive with the narrow hillside path around Ossams Hill, the descent to Wetton Mill and the ascent of Ecton Hill being particular highlights.
At the foot of Ecton Hill is the sleepy hamlet of Ecton and Checkpoint 5. Then onto the Manifold Way for ¾ mile. This is now a cycle track converted from an old railway line in 1937, a short respite from the hills. Soon after the village of Sheen is Sheen Hill. There is no public access to the summit, so participants were directed around the hill to Checkpoint 6 where the 3 heroic marshals fought continuously with the wind and squally rain. Opposite the checkpoint is a track, descending to the hamlet of Pilsbury. Many runners commented that this track was one of the hardest parts, due to the deep ruts.
The other side of the Upper Dove Valley, above Pilsbury saw the second unmanned clipping point (CP7) and then a pleasant stroll along the hillside to Hartington and Checkpoint 8; the last. The marshals here were on duty for more than 6 hours as walkers were so strung-out by then. From there, it is a relatively short section through Beresford Dale and Narrow Dale and then the end was in sight.
The first person home, in an incredible time of 4 hours 32 minutes was Steve Temple. The first female runner was Josie Field in 5 hours 20 minutes, an amazing time considering the terrain. The first walkers through were Phil Moss and Mike Page in 7 hours 23 minutes, only 10 minutes in front of the first locals, Chris and his son Tyler Frampton of Milldale. Full results can be seen on the Results page.
There were 265 entrants in total, with 215 completing the whole course. Many favourable comments were received both verbally and on the Forum. Also, there are over 100 pictures on the Leaden Boot website, taken by the official photographer and competitors around the course.
The home-made meat and potato pie was a real highlight of the day, washed down with tea and several different and delicious cakes. Badges and certificates are being sent to all successful participants, together with details of next year’s Leaden Boot Challenge. The organisers were thrilled with everyone’s comments and the way their hard work over the previous year resulted in such a successful event, which will hopefully go on for many years. They also wish to thank the 50+ volunteers who gave up so much of their time in the preparation of this event and on the day itself. There is no doubt that fundraising events like this would not be possible without the help and enthusiasm of the residents of this and neighbouring villages.
The event was originally intended to help finance the replacement of lead stolen from the church roof in 2010 – hence the name, ‘Leaden Boot’. As this was the inaugural event, the organising committee treated this as a “learning and setting up” year and were therefore happily surprised at the response. After all expenses were paid and various local donations were added, there remained a sum of £2,149. It was decided that £149 be retained as working capital for the next year’s event and £2000 be split equally between St Peter’s Church and The Memorial Hall.
The organisers are listening carefully to all comments received. Future events will be strictly limited to 300 participants. It will remain as a “personal challenge” – i.e. no prizes. It will be primarily advertised as a walking challenge, but runners will again be welcome to start one hour behind the walkers. Dogs on short leads will again be welcomed. The bacon butties, BBQ and teas venue will be situated more centrally in the Old School Garden and the delicious meat and potato pie (with vegetarian option) will be a regular feature to complete the day. The checkpoints will experiment with various snacks, as identified by this year’s entrants and the route will stay much the same, although the area around Sheen Hill and down to Pilsbury will be given more thought.