An account of running 100 miles at the Peak Running Millstone 100 in September 2021, by Mark Page
Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this awesome adventure, my memory of the Millstone 100 may have inaccuracies. However; I didn’t see Santa Claus like I did on the Limestone 50...
I didn’t have the best night sleep the night before the Millstone 100, due to the excitement of the journey ahead. However, I felt good. I had breakfast, lunch (baked spud and beans) and in the afternoon ate some nibbles (nuts, fruit and bits). Looking back, probably not the ideal nutrition for this adventure; I had found it difficult choosing, since I didn’t want to start off and need a giant poo after 20 miles in the dark.
Setting off towards Hollins Cross full of energy, striding up the d enjoying the long downhill section. Venturing towards Jacobs ladder with the sun setting in the sky, feeling good and confident. Night arrived whilst on Kinder Scout.
Reaching Longdendale trail after the technical ‘bumpy’ sections, it felt so amazing running on the flat. Soon, I felt worn out, sickly and moody. Looking back, I certainly burned myself out running a half marathon pace on the flat. I was going to pull out at the next checkpoint and started walking slowly. A runner passed me (Katie) and told me to put on my jacket. Reluctantly I complied, but so pleased I did. By the time I made it to the aid station I felt less sickly but still tired. The volunteers told me to eat, which I did, lots! Oh my gosh, what a difference. I set off with Katie taking it much more gently.
I reached the next Checkpoint in the early hours. I am so pleased I had covered myself in midge repellent. They were all buzzing around the checkpoint lights.
Setting off, watching the morning light emerge around Howden reservoir was magical.
Eventually I made it to the midway point (at Castleton). Then I realised what my biggest blunder was. Not having a bag there. I left it in my car at around a 500 metre round trip. No way, I was going to climb the incline to change. So I stayed smelly.
Setting off in glorious morning weather, all was well. Until about a mile in. Walking uphill on the road, I noticed my socks. They felt gritty. So I took them off and tried to de-grit them. So futile. Nothing could have cleaned them. The grit was embedded in them. If only I had put some new socks on.
After Bradwell, I had my first navigation mishap.
Whilst following the GPX, I got to a junction with a path. It seemed to go in the right direction, plus it looked like it had been recently trodden (broken branches within the brambles). After around 5 minutes of navigating through the jungle following a less trodden path, I realised that this probably isn’t the correct path. It would have been one a couple of metres away through the foliage (parallel to my path). But I was almost there, so I decided instead of backtracking I would carry on bashing through the brambles and the other annoying vegetation. After a few minutes, I connected with the correct path. I said “oops” (not my exact words) and carried on.
I reached, what we call “Cow Pat Alley” before it got dark. I was so pleased at my time. However, after the previous mishaps, I didn’t realise my actual time for the cut off was already a concern.
The cows greeted me . . . I had turned up at the moment the cows where having a wander to their night time field. Staying to the fence saying “Hi Mrs Cow, how are you today?” and other friendly words, I very slowly passed them all.
At the sun set, I carried on plodding. I got to a section at around the 75 mile mark where I just couldn’t find the stile to climb over. It felt like ages. It all looked so different in the dark. I kept going backwards and forwards. In the end I regained a bit of sense and starting at one end of the barbed wire fence to walk towards to the other end. I said “ah, I remember now!” when I found the stile.
In the early hours was my biggest mishap; The Monsal Head saga! After a long climb to the top, I was so enjoying the downhill part that I forgot to turn off and found myself right at the bottom. Normally this isn’t a problem. But my brain was mush from tiredness. I walked up a quarter of the way up to try to find it, but couldn’t. So I headed back down. I thought “humm that’s strange”. So I tried again, and this time somehow I ended back right to the top of Monsal Head. I had a little strop. This time on the way down, I took the correct path.
Heading along the Monsal Trail was very slow. I decided to walk it since it was uphill (which it isn’t!). After a long long time, including me making owl noises in the tunnels and singing Christmas carols. I saw some lights and heard “Mark!” . . . You have to run! I believe I replied “But it’s uphill”. Something about the cut off was mentioned. I believe I said something like “I don’t care”.
The next thing I found myself running to the checkpoint with moments to spare. It was the quickest checkpoint ever! What happened? That I am not sure. But with food in my hand with a new spring in my step, I believe I ran almost all the way to the end.
The feeling of reaching the end is indescribable. I can’t put it into words. It’s something that you have to experience to understand it.
Would I do it again. Certainly! It’s the mental aspect I struggled with. Much more than I expected. Now I understand the process, I believe I am well prepared for the next time.
- Mark Page
Millstone 100 (September 2021) Finisher
Account written May, 2022.