The Dovedale Dash has been going in various forms since 1953. The Dash is a four and 3/4 mile cross country race. The course is set in one of the most famous and picturesque parts of the White Peak and recent winners have included Simon Bailey, Stuart Bond and Lloyd Taggart.
Ray and I warmed up with an anxious run to the registration marquee. Dovedale is only a short drive for us but being complacent we hadn't allowed quite enough time. After signing on it was strait to the start line to join the 1477 other runners. Looking around, amongst the starters there were plenty of fast looking racers in club vests, a gorilla and a group of Smurfs.
The race started with nearly fifteen hundred of us funnelling downhill into Lin Dale. I had decided to go for it from the off, I love descending, the feeling of only just being in control, letting go and allowing gravity to do its thing, always puts a smile on my face. It wasn't a steep descent by fell race standards but with so many other runners about it was entertaining, with the mud and wet limestone catching a few out.
On to the bottom of Lin Dale and the much photographed Stepping Stones. Instead of using the stepping stones, the organisers gave us the chance to clean our shoes with a wade across the river Dove, Some chose to take a dive and wash all their kit.
The next few miles, fairly steady, at least for me they were. I had slowed to a plod, hoping to save enough for the final climb, from the bottom of the small but perfectly formed Thorpe Cloud, back up Lin Dale. My pace or lack of it, meant I was passed by loads of faster runners but fortunately no gorillas and only one Smurf.
Stuart Bond was first home with a time of 26min 46seconds. I dawdled over the line 325th, 13 minutes later and Ray came in not long after. What pleasantly surprised us was that we had beaten over 1000 other runners. I guess there must have been a lot more Smurfs than I first thought.