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Tour of the Derwent Valley - Duffield
Friday 25th May 2007
Alex Downie

It’s the DREAD that DRIVES us to DRINK ! C +C at Ilam Hall, nr. Ashbourne in Derbyshire for their fifth Tour of the Derwent Valley, May 2007, with races at Duffield, Wirksworth, Milford and Rowsley.
On offer here are 4 days of consecutive, hilly, 4-5 mileish races over the Bank Holiday weekend. But the organiser, the redoubtable David Denton, sadistically saves the steepest and nastiest one till the very last. It is the sheer perceived awfulness of this one (known scorpionically as the ‘Sting in the Tail’) that hovers most in the consciousness of the flatlanders from Cambridge, and undoubtedly contributes to the large quantities of alcohol consumed by the group over the weekend, such that on occasion whole bars have been drunk dry!
A quote from “Feet in the Clouds: a Tale of Fell-running and Obsession” by Richard Askwith seems relevant here.
“Dread”, he writes, “is a more awkward co-habitee, especially the kind of dread that involves knowing how much physical distress you’re in, and fearing how much worse it will get if you stick with your present plans. To tame that, you must consciously will your distress to be extended and redoubled – a mental trick that is hard for a normal person to perform.” (without alcohol)
Perhaps David Denton was thinking along these lines when choosing the (curiously anonymous) slogan for the back of the prized T-shirt for completing all 4 races, namely “To have never suffered is to have never been blessed.”
Be that as it may, over the 3 days prior to this last race, Sting-in-the-Tail virgins no doubt came close to recognising some of these symptoms after having to listen to ever more lurid, alcohol-fuelled descriptions of it by the grizzled old b******s in the Club(Glyn and Alex), who’d done it all before.
Anyway, despite or because of this, 15 club members, out of a total complement of 29, managed to complete all 4 races . (“Only the strongest survive” – to quote another T-shirt.) Thanks go to Ian, who once again managed to persuade the local YHA to put up with us. What Ian couldn’t lay on for us was good weather....it was cold, wet, miserable, windy and generally wretched for the whole weekend. However, C+C runners acquitted themselves very well indeed, with several PBs being smashed (eg by Dave Y, Maduri, Phil G, Fiona, Gerald, Carmel, Chris B, Mike S – apologies for any omissions). Mike led us all home in a very creditable 6th place overall.
And we had our fair share of winners too:-
* Glyn “Silian” Smith MV60 at Wirksworth and overall, for the second year running.
* Fiona “McEneiry” Murphy FV40 at Wirksworth and overall, also for the second year running.
* Meinou “Shoelaces” Simmons 3rd Woman overall, in her debut year.
(NB, the race on Saturday at Wirksworth is part of the traditional local well-dressing celebrations, and has its own, separate set of awards.)

- Alex Downie


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