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PART ONE:"The Blind date that led to a true love of bumpy ultras" - a Series

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

- Written by Geraldine Minshall, November 2022.


Peak Running have four core beliefs (see website). Number 4 couldn’t be more true: 4."It’s not about us, it’s about you and what inspires you! Our job is just to help connect you with the people and places that will create the inspiration". Living in Denmark, I’m not a local to the Peak District, and I may not have come across Andy and Peak Running if it wasn’t for an ultra-running good friend, Becky Wightman, who I was and still am massively inspired by. Her epic adventures looked so good, I wanted to have a go but didn’t know where to start. Becky suggested I contacted Andy for a guided run of the Edale Skyline.

I’d done a fair bit of running, up to marathon distance, pre kids. I’d suffered a bit with core and back issues but after finding the right physio - some 3 years later, I was finally getting back on track. Enjoying the local trails was great but Denmark is a very flat country, and although we live in beautiful surroundings, by the forest and fjord, there is not much in the way of rolling hills. The idea of the Edale Skyline seemed like the perfect challenge. I contacted Andy and we put a date in the diary for the end of August.

With the Edale Skyline in my sights, the next couple of months’ runs were training towards my blind date with Andy, and I simply couldn’t wait. I ran off road as much as possible but was very mindful that the Skyline was going to involve around 1250m of elevation, so I needed to get some hill reps in, but where? Zooming in on Google Earth, on the hunt for anything with a bit of lift, somewhere close to home, I was reminded of our local ski slope! Bingo! 50m - brill! Up and down there several times, once a week, and I’d be ready for those Peaks! Right? I had no idea of the terrain at this point, and little did I know that this ski slope was about to become my best friend and foundation for future hilly runs.

So the day arrived and I met Andy outside the Old Hall Hotel in Hope. All kitted out as per our phone call two days before, plus a brand new Garmin proudly strapped to my wrist (didn’t really know how to use it at this stage), and sporting a new pair of Saucony Peregrines which I’d had delivered to my door in England, as I’d been running in road shoes up to this point (yes, I’m very aware you should never wear new running shoes for a distance run - don’t worry, I’d done 2 miles in them the day before!)

I was still apprehensive about the elevation despite my ski slope sessions but Andy made me feel at ease straight away. We chatted the whole way round. I got to hear about his story as a runner and how he came to set up the fabulous Peak Running. Andy is very knowledgeable about the Peak District, so I got to learn all about the Dark Peak and the White Peak. He asked me about my running goals, told me about some of his ultra achievements, and also mentioned the Peak District Ultras that were coming up that very weekend. The Peveril 33, the Limestone 50 and the Millstone 100. They sounded fabulous but were clearly for experienced ultra-runners. I secretly wondered if they might be something I could aspire to one day. Andy also told me about the Peak District’s 70th Birthday Bash and how because of Covid, they hadn’t been able to follow through on it but that it would take place the following April.

The weather was a mix of sunshine and drizzle but the views were breath-taking.

I was introduced to all the wonderful highlights on the way round: Ladybower Reservoir, Win Hill, Hope Cross, Kinder Plateau, Crowden Rocks, Mam Tor, The Great Ridge and Lose Hill. It was a chilled but decent paced trot with time for photos, and Andy even shared his falafel with me. Before I knew it, we were descending back down into Hope. We’d made good time, so I offered to get the lattes in, at a lovely little café.

‘A pretty decent achievement’, I thought to myself, all things considered. 20 miles, 1250m of elevation and a first for me on such terrain. One small thing though - I forgot to start the new watch - oops. Not to worry, Andy said he would say he ran with me on his Strava.

Andy was very encouraging and remarked ‘If you can get round there like that, I wouldn’t hold back on entering whatever you like the sound of!’. I felt like a proper runner and rather proud of myself.

There was something more though. I had never felt so inspired. It was definitely going to be the start of things to come. I’d fallen for the Peak District and loved every single step of my expertly guided run, by Andy. I was coming back for more, and in the not too distant future...

- PART TWO of the Blind Date Series is out NOW; see where Geraldine's new found love of the Peak District takes her next HERE.

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