It was a previledge to be at Derwent as the day dawned on what turned out to be a most beautiful Sunday in the Peak District. Setting the course up to the sound of waking geese, woodpeckers hammering out their breakfasts and that sound of silence on a still morning had me thinking how lucky we are to have places like the Upper Derwent Valley as a playground.
And as people began arriving, that calm pervaded right through to the start, leaving me wondering if everyone was too chilled out to race. But of course you were as everyone set off meaning business, heading either up the fell-side or along the waterside road, whichever they had chosen to do first.
The jury is still out on where the advantage - if indeed there is one - might lie. Tackle the steep climb with fresh legs or bounce along the road while there's still some bounce in them. 52 out of the 100 starters fancied the climb first.
As the athletes began returning to transition it was Alex Hall (2nd last year) who had a definite lead. But this is where this unique event's curiosity lies. Did he take the road or the fell and what about those chasing? This race isn't over until the finish line is crossed - and that's not a TV pundit speaking either.
(Alex Hall approaching T1)
The bike route this year had become more tricky. A winter's rhododendron clearing with big machinery had left the verges in tatters with a lot of debris on the tarmac and with Derbyshre County Council's unfinished pothole-filling project not yet complete it was going to be down to careful bike handling to see this section through. Unfortunately, a few tyres weren't quite up to it, leaving some with flats, but it will be nice next year when the road is beautifully patched up and bunny-hopping won't be necessary.
Unfortunately, and amusingly, two competitors, both from my home clubs in Matlock, discovered to their peril that saddle bolts need to be fairly tightly screwed in. Seeing Chris Hallas and Ben Cartwright riding gingerly along with the tops of their seat posts threatening their courting tackle did make me chuckle. But they both saw it through, and were no doubt relieved that the only thing they had to go looking for after the race was a saddle rather than pieces of their anatomy.
Chris Hallas demonstrating the only way to ride saddle-less.
Onto the second run - the opposite to their first - those at the sharp end were emerging onto the last quarter mile where the courses meet having undergone a bit of a positional reshuffle. Leading them home was Matthew Hallam in a splendid time of 1.34.30, followed by Alex Hall then Ben Cartwright.
The ladies had been playing it a bit more conventionally with the first 4 all opting for the fell run first. It was Christine Howard who held the lead she had taken on the bike to finish in 1.48.18, followed by her clubmate Kate Hemsley and Pippa Wilkie.
Eleanor Robinson, Christine Howard and Kate Hemsley. Alex Hall, Matthew Hallam and Ben Cartwright.
Other than a few unfortunate DNFs through mechanical problems, everybody survived the day and I must thank every one of you for taking the ride safely. To add to the hazards undertyre, a lot of people were out enjoying the valley and the nice weather and it appears courtesy was nicely combined with fierce competition.
Apologies to those who found the water barrel empty at the end. It was hot and people were filling their new bottles rather enthusiastically which caught me out. Ironic, seeing as there were millions of gallons of drinking water being held back by the dam wall. I'll do better next time.
Well done to James Garner for making the closest prediction about the percentage opting for the fell run first. His 54% was only 2% over the actual figure which has won him a bottle of wine. The proceeds from this have been passed on to Vic Hallam towards the running of his Dambusters Museum in the West Tower of Derwent Dam beside which the race started.
A final thank you must go to the eager little team of helpers, the Peak District National Park for the permission given to hold the event, and Duncan McFarlane of Aquaman Design (for all your website needs) for supporting Peaklife Sport.
Here are the results. The photos were taken by Duncan McFarlane. Pictures can also be seen on Peaklife Sport's Facebook page and should anyone like any prints or higher resolution images, please get in touch with Duncan at Aquaman Photography (www.aquamanphotography.co.uk).
Hope to see you again.
|T1 entry||T2 exit||Finish|