Each year the DT (Dales Trails) Series is held in the northern Yorkshire Dales with 3 races each of an increasing distance starting at roughly half marathon and finishing with a full blown marathon. Those completing all 3 are known as Grand Slammers and I am now in that group.
The trails are well marked with a fair smattering of ascents descents as well as gentler running with fantastic views. Ironically, I found the first the hardest with 2 very technical descents seeing me relegated to the slow lane and without enough time to make up for lost ground. The other races had more manageable descents for an old stager like me and this was reflected in improved finishing positions.
The marathon started at a windswept Semer Water and immediately proceeded steeply uphill, but on road… and then continued and continued less steeply but off road up to nearly 600 metres. Then straight down and a stream crossing which I decided was safer than slippery stepping stones, a stop to remove clothing, to prevent overheating was followed by a lovely riverside jaunt for several miles before the hard stuff again.
We started to rise through heavy ground lightened by views of Inglebrough; eventually reaching a track which made the upward momentum somewhat easier and this became easier again as we hit tarmac. The summit was reached 9 miles after starting the ascent.
By that time fatigue was setting in at over 20 miles, not helped by an undulating circuit of a mountain top on a narrow track. We could see the finish but it was a long way down and it felt that we were never going to go down. Eventually, after 24 miles we started to go down sharply and by this time the misplacing of a salt tablet meant that cramp was starting to eat away at my calf and frankly, I could have done without the last 2 miles!
Anyway having limped over the line there was wonderful spicy soup and carrot cake awaiting.
For the record the time was 4 hours 24 minutes for 28th place in the marathon and 22nd in the series.
A great series for anyone wanting a good trail test.