Dark Peak Ladies

Billy Bland Challenge

30th June 2012


Below is a compilation of 1) my report that I posted on www.runbg.co.uk , 2) the reports that Willy Kitchen was posting on the Dark Peak website as he was receiving various texts throughout the day and 3) the various team email communications that were sent post challenge.


Nicky's Report

30th June - Dark Peak Ladies completed the relay in 18 hours and 51 minutes !!!!


Leg 1 - Ruth Batty and Debbie Smith. The girls set off from the Moot Hall at 2am. It was quite warm but there was a strong wind and the clag was at about 200m. It also rained most of their leg. As the weather was poor it was also dark for longer and they had difficulty navigating in it. We waited nervously at Threlkeld at 5.35am the eta on the 20 hour schedule that I had produced. The girls arrived at 6.09am so were down on the schedule but actually completed the leg at BG pace (in 4.09 hours) which was astounding given the conditions.


Leg 2 - Liz Batt, Heather Marshall and Laura Gibson. The rain stopped briefly but soon came down again for the next 4 hours. Waiting at Dunmail at 9.30am we also started to see BG contenders coming through and they gave us news that the girls were doing well. Laura dropped off early but Heather and Liz came in at 10.14 hours so had managed to do the leg on 20 hour pace and beat the current record by two minutes with a Leg time of 4.05 hours.


Leg 3 - Nicky Spinks and Pippa Wilkie. Setting off up Steel Fell my legs felt good and I was pleased to knock a few minutes off. The schedule had seemed relatively easy for this leg but I was reluctant to cut it much shorter so had scheduled 5hrs 20 in total. Knowing that it would be hard to make up time once on the rocks we pushed hard across to Rosset Pike and were rewarded by getting back on the 20 hour scheduled time there. We were also lucky with the weather; after a few rain/hail showers the clag cleared across the Langdales which made navigating much easier. It looked thick above us on Bowfell though and it was !!! We were then in clag all the way with the wind picking up across from Great End and making any running across the rocks impossible. The rocks however were drying in the wind so there was some bonus. Scafell Pike was very busy and there were even a couple of casualties but they looked compus mentus so I left them alone. Dropping to Mickledore we had decided on West Wall Traverse over Broad Stand and I was pleased to see Carl there. He reassured Pippa along Lord's rake and up the traverse much better than I would have done. Touching the top of Scafell we had lost a few minutes and so hammered it all the way down out of the clag to Wasdale finishing at 3.10pm - now only 10 minutes down on the 20 hr schedule. We also broke the current leg record by about an hour finishing in a time of 4.56 hours


Leg 4 - Kirsty Bryan Jones, Penny Collier and Alice Robson. With Kirsty and Alice on this leg we knew that nav shouldn't be a problem. They set off at a good pace and we drove round to Honister to wait for them. My schedule gave them 4.35 hours getting in at 7.35pm. We couldn't believe it when they appeared at 7pm flying down the hill. Helen Elmore started doing excited bunny hops and running round impatient to be off on her leg!! The girls finished at 7.03pm in a leg time of 3.53 hours Also a new leg record !




Leg 5 - Helen Elmore, Claire Oliffe and Rachel Horn. The girls set off at a fantastic pace up Dale Head and it was all getting very exciting now. We drove round and waited at Newlands Church where they came though discarding clothes as they flew passed. Off to the Moot Hall we drove. Waiting there we knew they would be trying for under 19 hours now and when they appeared we all started cheering. The girls touched the Moot Hall having completed the leg in an amazing time of 1.48 hours. And they took 2 minutes off the current Ladies leg record.


Our total time then was 18 hours and 51 minutes. So off to the chippy and then the pub we went where Kirsty in true Scots fashion bought everyone whisky to celebrate with (I think it was mainly Kirsty and me that drank it though!!).


Willy (Roving Reporter) Dark Peak ongoing Updates

DP Women's BG Relay underway ... and who cares if it's damp or not.

2am. Ruth B and Debbie S set off past the Moot Hall night clubbers at 2am on the first leg of the Billy Bland relay. Wind's dropped, and it's warm and claggy, with a bit of rain. Good luck to all involved.

7am. Through Threlkeld at 6.10am. "Horrid on tops. Nav hard in clag." Don't suppose the darkness will have helped there either. It's Liz B, Heather M and Laura (G?) on leg 2.  "Showers, but wind dropped a little". I'll have to go dig out that schedule Mistress Spinks sent round (on no accounts tell her I didn't have it immediately to hand) ... but it looks like they'll be needing some better weather if they're to have a realistic shot at the record. Go gals!

8.46am.  Leg 3 runners getting ready to head up to Dunmail from the campsite at Thornthwaite (are you listening, Richard!!).  Cleared a bit at sea level, but still showers on and off.  Fingers crossed for more news around 10am (I've found my schedule - phew.  Let's hope it's the correct one).

10.30am.  Nicky S and Pippa W just set off up Steel Fell.  "Liz and Heather bang on schedule despite desperate conditions".  I think this means that there's still a good deal to be made up over the remaining three legs if the record's to be broken ... and I'm guessing the rocks across to Scafell ain't going to be pretty.  Weather "OK" at Dunmail, but the forecast for the afternoon and early evening looks decidedly showery.  Our crack leg five (gala - tee hee) runners may not have quite the dawdle that the original schedule allowed for.  Careful on those rocks now, folks.

12.55pm.  Leg 4 runners are en route to Wasdale by car.  "Brightening up on coast, fog on fells, still windy".  It'll no doubt be some time before we get a report out of Wasdale - 4pm at the very earliest is my guess.  Good cheer to Kirsty and Alice R who (injury permitting) are next up.

2.40pm.  First sighting of leg 3 runners on screes descending Scafell. That sounds very promising. Does mean your correspondent is updating from a showery Mam Tor mind.

3pm. Sadly we need someone with better eyesight on the binos ... It's not Nicky and Pippa.

3.10pm. I'm assured it's definitely them this time ...

4.46pm.  The news is good out of Wasdale. Back on schedule and Kirsty and Alice are on their way. Pippa's had a bit of a tumble. Hopefully she's got nowt worse than a bruise.

Sounds like Nicky and Pippa had a storming leg, in more senses than one - "we got all weathers - wind, rain, hail, clag, then some sun".  So far as I can tell they're all now five minutes ahead of their tentative schedule - and therefore nearly half an hour ahead of record schedule ... but I may have got that wrong (and Davids B and McG have just poured two pints of Blonde down my ever resistent gullet). 

I see from a previous email that "I [Ms Spinks] think Leg 3 has room for massive improvement while on Leg 5 the record is only 5 minutes behind the men's record and seems really fast so I've gone for midway [between the record and a DP 23:30 schedule]" - clearly got the first half of the prediction right; here's hoping the rest of the schedule works out, and that Kirsty, Alice and Penny C, who's also running leg four (as back up for Alice's dodgy achilles, I think), can hold enough of this advantage for Helen E, Zanthe W (this time carrying plantar fasciitis), and Clare O (again as back up?) to bring home the bacon.  What with all these injuries they're carrying, perhaps we should put 'em all down once it's over?

Should be through Honister about 7.35pm, if all goes well.

7pm.  Another 40 mins gained against the schedule on leg 4 - impressive stuff from Kirsty, Alice and Penny - and Helen E, Clare O and Rachel H are off on the glory leg.  It was only half an hour ago in the pub, whilst awaiting a rather fine curry order, that your correspondent finally bothered to check the actual current record (assuming no one else has posted a sneaky improvement this rainy June).  It stands to Helm Hill at 21:48 in 2011, which means Helen et al have about four hours to get back to the Moot Hall ... assuming, therefore, that they're not running backwards, I think it's safe to say they have this in the bag. 

I'd like to claim I was stringing out the suspense over the day, but it's actually just a case of shoddy journalism (where's Dave Holmes when you need him?).  The schedule I've been looking at is worked out on the basis of the best individual women's legs over the past two years of the Billy Bland challenge, not the legs of the actual the Helm Hill record.  So, as things stand, there's a fair chance our rather talented 'girlies' (the webmaster's term, I hasten to add, not mine), are about to smash the cumulative best women's time for the BBR over the last two years.  Can't say fairer than that.  Then again, I might just have got it all wrong again.

8.20pm.  Just through Newlands.  Evidently they're not running backwards.


Nicky's Email to the Team afterwards

Well done everyone. I was cowering in the van on Friday night dreading sending people out in those conditions and really appreciated the support I got and that no-one even suggested not going.

Sorry to Debs and Ruth for giving them what I thought was the hardest leg and then in the hardest conditions. You both did well to get round that at all, Liz, Heather and Laura then did a stirling job of doing their leg on schedule in thick clag and rain and really given the slack in Leg 3 me and Pippa should have been sacked if we hadn't been able to pull something back. I know Pippa gave it her all (and has the bruises to show for it) - well done for climbing West Wall Traverse !! And then onto Leg 4 where Kirsty took hold and with Penny and Alice driving the pace to then be up on schedule at Honister by 40 minutes. Once Helen, Clare and Rachel set off we could see it was going to be fast and then on the road it was. Another 30 minutes shaved off so that we finished in 18.51 hours.

Thanks also to our man support - Jon Batt; the driver and dog controller, Carl for technical hill support on the climbing bits of Leg 1 and 3, Ian Fitz for moral support and beer provider and last but never least - Willy the not so roving (as seemingly in the pub the whole time) reporter .......

The 20 hour schedule I put together was a realistic idea of mine that I thought achievable. I'm very pleased that you all trusted that and then tried to do better. We don't know as yet that there hasn't been a faster ladies team gone round in June but I doubt it. I'm going to send in the leg times and names today to the Billy Bland challenge.

Team Responses and Reports



Thank you all for a great weekend. I feel like I may have missed out on a few whiskeys on Saturday night. We retrieved the wet tent from its new position with a smile Sunday morning.


Big thanks to Nicky for getting up at 2am to see us off at the Moot hall and then also been there when we finished our leg. Also Carl for giving us a lift to the start and meeting us on the top to help us down the ridge- excellent.

Willy- love the reporting -



Oh my goodness it didn't even cross my mind not to have a go and I reckon no one else would have thought of not having a go - if only because of the effort you'd gone to to arrange everything: thanks. Me and Laura had a great time and we were very inspired by Liz's running ... I would like to say my 'best bit' was running related but actually all the best bits were "the black dog" related - he's comedy genius !! He'd have had a right field day on my little dog though; she's frightened of everything. 



A really enjoyable weekend- sad I had to whizz off on Saturday- but managed to pick boys up en route to party. Despite bruises and a few black toenails I had an amazing day and loved it. I need to learn how to stay on my feet!! Ruth, please thank Carl for helping me on the climb. I really appreciated him following me up. Well done all of you,


Thanks for a fab weekend and a great days running in the Lakes, I really enjoyed it all. Thanks especially to Nicky for all her planning, logistics and enthusiasm which made it happen (and the nice campsite). Cheers to Willy whose reports kept us amused (especially after a few drinks!) The "OK" weather report I texted after Dunmail was because I was feeling carsick and couldn't face texting anymore! Impressive running everyone in that weather- excited at what we all could do given less rain, wind and clag!!



Brill weekend, thoroughly enjoyed despite the feeling of jelly legs chasing Kirsty and Penny down the descent to Honister! Fab to get the girls together! Thanks to Nicky for organising it.


After hearing tales of zero vis, driving rain, lethally slippy rocks and bruised limbs I think we got off lightly. The cloud had lifted so Rachel, Claire and me just had to make it to Keswick for  the beer and glory. Thanks to Rachel for backing up my navigation and to Claire for absolutely giving it everything. Sorry I got a bit over excited but being part of such awesome team of dark peak ladies rules!

Clare Oliffe

Ahead of schedule and with the weather finally on our side we were raring to go on Leg 5. It was a whirlwind of rocky scrambles and grassy slides with great support from the rest of the team along the road. My first taste of part of the Bob Graham route - a thoroughly enjoyable run and a fantastic result.