Tag Archives: Dales Trail Series DT40

Dales Trail Series – DT40, Semer Water, last of Dales Trails races, Wednesday, September 27, 2017

26.2miles, 3333ft gain

Elaine Bisson

The DT30 was my first trail race in 2015. I’d entered thinking I’d run round with Jon…a back injury prevented him running on the day. To say I was apprehensive would have been an understatement. I’d only ever run on roads and had never needed a map.

I’d loved it so much I entered the grand slam in 2016 never even imagining I’d come anywhere near the podium finish. I’d had a good battle and was surprisingly close to the winner of the grand slam until an unfortunate incident in a Lakeland bog…not toilet but muddy bog gave me a second degree hamstring tear which I tried my best to ignore and ended up limping and crying and hating every step of the DT40…I’d finished second and so I decided to try my luck again…

So the pressure was on since April 1st 2017 when I actually won the first race of the series the DT20.

To dare to dream…could I really win the series??

Then an ankle injury, tendonitis, niggles on and on so the DT30 was an incredible disappointment. August running was at an all time low with kids off school and an attempt to rest to sort my ankle.. 100 miles I logged, which for anyone who doesn’t know me is quite pitiful. You can imagine my frustration at the lack of running and lack of preparation for this race.

September came, my ankle was again its normal size and no longer painful. My first focus was supporting Geoff on his JNC, then it was upping my miles. So I log my runs, I try to repeat what I’ve done before a good race. My target was to log a 60m week, a fortnight before the DT40. For some reason this has time and again produced good race results. By hook or by crook it was done. My longest run in time was 5 hours in the lakes (12miles but very hilly!), in Durham it was 17m split into a double run day as I just couldn’t face the boredom of running round Durham. Certainly not my ideal long run distance.

And so I find myself yet again on the start line of the DT40 another year older, another year wiser and another year more eager.

The sun appeared and warmed my skin. I’d taken myself off to calm my nerves and run along the river. I’d had a sneaky wee behind a bush and somehow got grass stuck in my knickers. I was injury free, I’d stocked up on 2 months worth of iron…I was pink!! And I was ready. I was going to be sensible. As my husband said, it was mine to lose….not to win. Strong and steady all the way…

The race starts on the shores of Semer water and climbs for a good…well on my watch 40mins until there is a lovely descent until it climbs again for another 6miles. Having run alongside people at Swaledale marathon who had run steadily up Fremington and all other hills….and gone on to beat me by 10 or so minutes while I ran until my legs burned then walked….then ran, I’d decided to try this instead…would it be efficient and less tiring. I took the climbs steadily, calmed my breathing and slowed every time my breathing seemed too heavy. This year I didn’t walk! I kept going, my miles were faster than last years and I felt good. Then the weather turned to my favourite fine drizzle, oh heaven!.

I’m not sure if I mentioned how I hated last year’s race; the disappointment of not even being able to put up a bit of fight for the trophy. I had lost before I’d even started. I’d remembered tarmac…because that’s what hurt most, miles upon miles of the stuff. This race was entirely different. Miles upon miles upon miles of muddy stuff. Beautiful muddy stiff, gorgeous views, clean air and peace and quiet.

When I could, I raised my head and looked at the views. The fields, the lovely river paths, the hills, splashing across streams, through puddles, navigating boggy paths, tiny forests, my favourite tiny trails that roll through the fields, I enjoyed every step. I remembered at mile 11 last year when I’d looked at Jon broken, every step hurt and I was close to tears…this year I could run, well and comfortably. It was a true joy. Marshalls knew me from previous races and spurred me on, “you have to smash it this year!”, fellow runners encouraged and laughed at slips and slides.

I was scared I’d hit the wall, my miles had been meagre. There was no wall. With 5 miles to go, Robbie, who had navigated me through Punchard on my first Swaledale marathon was marshalling, he told me how well I was running, top 15 Elaine, very well done. That meant the second placed lady would have to get minus 10 to beat me…that trophy was coming home with me. The absolute glee I can’t tell you, the puddles I sought to splash in…the mud that caked my legs, childish glee! Even the ginormous bull who glared at me whilst I pranced through his field couldn’t frighten me. And when I hit the final 250m of road, I was grinning from ear to ear and close to tears, then I saw the finish and Sarah (previous winner, major rival but above all fab friend) raised her hands and cheered and started to cry…and then her husband too ( race organiser) and of course me. Well , I said after the DT20 I wanted to bottle up the feeling and do it again. .. and that’s what I did, running my heart out to bring that trophy home…my most hard earned and prized of all.

Afterwards I dunk in Semer water, clean off my legs, change and settle down with fellow runners while we tuck into soup, tea and cakes. We swop stories, giggle and cheer home the other runners.

This series is what first took me onto trails, to realise how much I love off road running and hills. I’ve made friends and memories that I will never forget.


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Dales Trail Series – DT40, Semer Water, Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, Saturday, September 24, 2016


Jon Ayres

For what we are about to receive ...
© Anthony Taylor

I’m currently feeling pretty miserable my pace has dropped to nothing but a shuffle, the pain killers I took earlier clearly aren’t working, pre-cramp pains are shooting up my legs, I’m aware of another club member who’s hauling me in and it’s only mile 10 of 26. Other than that everything else is just peachy.

Around 90 minutes ago I’d been catching up with old friends, sorting out my kit and laughing about the race to come-now the humour is definitely black. The initial climb away from the lake had seem OK I’d followed my stride/run plan and seemed to be toward the front of the pack, I’ve surprised myself by managing to not lose too much ground on a sharp though not too technical drop, kept my head down as we passed a field of killer cows but that all feels like a long time ago. A couple more people go past and even though we’re running(well they are) along a river the terrain feels harder than a flat run should.

A mile and a bit later and a feed station is visited, sausage rolls, cake and other goodies tempt me to sit down and forget the run while I’ve never had DNF against my name before a picnic here in a pretty corner, feasting on the goodies seems very tempting. So what to do, after all there’s a climb here and it’ll go on for nearly the next nine miles across bog, track and tarmac.

I remind myself that only a few months ago I had a good day out in similar conditions, think of the embarrassment of having to explain a “Gave up” to the likes of Geoff and Sue, never mind Mike Hughes who ran much tougher terrain for nearly a full day non stop, cast a thought to the deserved repeated ribbing I’d get from friends and resolve the pain is frankly a much better option.

Digging in now becomes the goal, set bitesize goals for the next few limes and perhaps most importantly stop feeling so very sorry for myself. I’m doing something I love, really love and I’m lucky to do so. So get on with enjoying the scenery, think about climbing a hill or two, see if there’s places to be gained and grab a sausage roll from the feed station too.

The road now is roller coaster flat and while we’re no doubt climbing overall the odd relief of a slight drop is welcome, then a run through a farmyard and the conditions under foot are heavy and boggy, walls with slight gaps need squeezing through, stiles are to be climbed and gates opened and slammed shut. We’re really climbing now too heading up to I don’t know where, thankfully the trail is really well marked so I don’t have to concentrate to much on where I’m going, though the sight of a Purple vest in the distance has focused my thinking.

The bog gives way to a trail which has us heading further away from the finish point and I’m now chatting with the other strider about how much of a day this is then a beep from my Garmin and we’ve only, only! 10 miles to go. I cast memory back to runs of that distance that I’ve completed and enjoyed and imagine them transposed onto today’s route.

Tarmac now and the soft padding of shoes set a rhythm , my fellow strider and I catch a couple of vests and, hey, things are looking up it’s still hard work and a shift definitely needs putting in but surely somewhere around here is the summit. Another well stocked feed station I grab a handful of jelly babies, fill my drinks bottle and keep on keeping on, the road is definitely starting to get easier and I get into a tussle with another runner we pass each other repeatedly with victory to the striders gained just before the summit.

The start and finish of Semer Water comes into sight, though the marshals point us away, they’re all smiling or is that smirking, nah they’ve been pleasant and cheerful all the way round it must be the former-I think. From a mental point of view things seem a bit easier it’s a soft grassy trail heading slightly down now and it’s bliss, I keep a steady pace and wonder how far behind the others are with emphasis on the Strider I’ve been running with, I’m not sure I can hold them off but I’ll think about that when I have to.

I catch a couple more vests as we hit the final short and sharp climb, didn’t enjoy that at all, only a couple of miles now dig in and get it finished.

And then Semer Water comes into view and this time I’m heading toward it, I’m a long way above it so it’s a trot home surely, only now I’m being chased and I’m hopeless at descending I know who’s trying to catch me and they’re like a bloody goat, mutter, curse and run. Head down, legs turning, keep running.

I get caught on the final descent but it’s friendly enough and we cheer each other on. A final easy path through woodland and onto the finish, just outside my ideal time but given my complacency prior to this race I deserve nothing more.

One down, 99 to go.Jason Harding and Steph Piper have made their debut at getting around a course of 26.2 miles and both are smiling at the end, Jason bags a top 10 finish to boot and there can be no doubt he gave 110%. Elaine Bisson finishes second lady in the series and having got round with hamstring issues deserves all the prizes won, while Tamsin Imber continues her stellar year of improvement and is amongst the sharp end of her peers.

The course is perhaps not as scenic as the others in the series but it’s been fun, kind of and I felt like I enjoyed it. The endless supply of soup, cake and proper (Yorkshire) tea are welcome and make it all worthwhile. The conversation now turns to next year this is a series that many will repeat and I fully intend to be amongst that number.

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