28 June 2014
With the official statistics of 22.1 miles long & 8251 feet of climb this is a race designed to make you shed a tear. Either for the sheer effort of getting round it or for the tragedy that brought it back into being.
2014 was the second running since its re-launch & re-badging as the Darren Holloway Memorial Race after Darren’s sad passing during the Ian Hodgson Relay of 2012.
The race had disappeared off the calendar in 1992. The former male record being 3.30.13 in 1990 by D. Lee and the female record 4.08.10 also in 1990 by H. Diamantides. I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same course, but if so, then those are some pretty impressive times.
So with all the proper runners off to Scotland for the British Championship race at Dollar I thought I would have a little trot round.
The current male record stands at 4.02.27 by Simon Booth from last year. I wasn’t going to trouble that but getting round without getting lost would be a start.
It was a bit of a motley bunch at the start line, not too many familiar faces, but it was nice to meet a grizzly veteran called Bob. Originally from Chorley, now relocated to Scotland. He had run in some of the original races and had come down especially for it. There was also a fair smattering of Pennine runners, Darren’s old club.
The race itself had everything you would expect from an AL category in the lakes. A big hill up… a big hill down… repeat until legs feel like jelly.
Including the final heartbreaker of Mellbreak after about 18.5 miles. Not the biggest or best known hill in the lakes but every step needed a chant of the Daz H mantra…’Dig in’… to make progress.
The route also has its fair share of navigational challenges, which I of course proceeded to get slightly wrong even though it was a fine day.
‘Watch out you don’t go too high on the contour around Robinson & get crag bound’… check, did that.
‘Make sure you follow the fence after Innominate Tarn so you avoid going over Haystacks’… ah, check, did that too.
Both errors compounded by watching my fellow competitors on lovely trods far below me.
The final stony track along the valley to the finish was the expected purgatory but I managed to drag myself across the line in a time of 5.08.58, feeling totally spent & in need of urgent refuelling.
Luckily as well as the organisers, Darren’s family and friends were all on hand with refreshments. Plentiful cups of tea & handfuls of cake being hand delivered to grateful runners.
All followed up with a low key prize giving where, as if ordained, Peninne won the team prize.
— Editor’s note: Charlie is too modest to post his finishing position in his race report but he was 5th overall and 1st M45. Absolutely cracking run, Charlie, very well done. Full results here.