Marsden Racers // Cycling and Running Club

Race Report: Pennine Barrier

Pennine barrier by GB Ultras 12th June 2021 race report. 

by Christine Mitchell


So I was up bright and early at 3.45 am for a 1 ½ hour drive to Malham showground and arrived at 6.00. 

After a short queue to register and the obligatory portaloo stop I was ready to set off. 

Armed with my map, compass (those of you who know me well will know these are just for show) and OS app on my phone I was still secretly hoping I would have someone to follow on the sections I didn’t know. (As it turned out I did and only needed to look at the route on my OS app once to check I was heading in the right direction on the way back towards Janets Foss)

A hot day was forecast, however it was very cold at the start and I donned my jacket and gloves (much to the amusement of some of my fellow Marsden racers when they saw the photos of me dressed for a run in the arctic on what was one of the hottest days of the year) 

Anyhow the coat and gloves came off eventually and I headed up on the first big climb of the day which included the steps up to Malham cove (apparently there are 400 of them) and into some of the most beautiful scenery that Yorkshire has to offer.  Here I caught up with Emily another Marsden racer.  (Or rather she caught up with me).  We had a bit of natter and she was then off ahead of me and I next saw her at the finish. Well done on a great run Emily.

Malham tarn is next but before you get there you have to do a couple of miles out and back on tarmac and I guess this is to make it up to 50 miles. This should have been an easy bit however there was a massive head wind and I hardly felt to be moving at this point.

Then for a nice easy section around the tarn and down through a pretty wood.

It was not long before I was off up and over another rather big hill (fountains fell) and Penyghent appeared.  A foreboding site in the distance.

A short stop at CP 1 before tackling the first of the three peaks

The ascent of Penyghent wasn’t too bad, my legs were still feeling fresh and the crowds hadn’t yet come out and I was soon up and over and on a good runnable section across to checkpoint 2 at Ribblehead  (just before the very impressive viaduct. ) 

Christine climbing Pen-y-Ghent in 2021 Pennine Barrier

On the run across to Whernside I somehow picked up a young man walking the peaks who decided he wanted to run with me for a bit and play me rap songs on his phone. (A bit surreal rapping on the peaks)

As always it was a slog up Whernside and the crowds had well and truly come out now.  There followed a lot of “excuse me please” and good natured banter and support from charity walkers and tourists. 

Then there is the quad bashing descent of Whernside and the legs were feeling a little bit wobbly when I hit the little tarmac section over to checkpoint 3 at the hill inn just below Ingleborough.

On the descent I joined a fellow PB runner and we stayed together the rest of the way.  I ended up knowing a lot about her except her name and it was good to have some company.

I would have stopped for an ice cream at the farm shop but there was a big queue and I felt I was going well and wanted to keep up the momentum (and stay with my new friend)

Ingleborough was a tough climb on tiring legs at roughly 30 miles in.

There then comes another slog of about 6 miles down to Horton in Ribblesdale with very few easily runnable sections (well for me anyway, but my new friend and I kept each other going)

After a short stop at CP 4 in Horton to get the stones out of my shoes and have something to eat it was off through the village and to start the climb ¾ of the way back up Penyghent.  (This bit seemed never ending)

Then it’s back the way we came for a good few miles and back over the big hills but I now felt I was on the homeward stretch.

With Fellow Marsden Racer, Jaime while training for the Cleveland Way

Past the picturesque Janets Foss (even I was almost tempted to have a dip) and only roughly 1 ½ easy miles back to the finish (well as easy as it can feel after 50 tough miles) 

I finished in 13hr and 2 minutes and was 16th female out of 45. I am pretty pleased with this (oh and I was also the oldest)

I treated myself to a Macdonalds on the 1 ½ hr drive home and it was gone in seconds.

I arrived back home at 9.30pm (17hrs after I had set off) tired but happy.  I had a quick shower and put my feet up with a cold beer.

The Pennine barrier is a beautiful and tough 50 miler. The weather was hot and sunny with clear blue skies which meant that I got the stunning views (and a classic runners tan) and I had a great day out

The only downside to the day was that  I should have been running it with my mate Jaime Mclaughlin as a last training run before our attempt on the full Cleveland Way and she was unfortunately injured (Jaime you would have loved it.)

GB ultras put on a great event and the volunteers and checkpoints are second to none.

If you get one race on your bucket list let it be this one (I’m even considering the PB 100 next year.)