Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

May 9, 2011

Malhamdale Meander, 23 mi, 7 May 2011

It's always nice to find an event close to home, and the longer days mean that I even get to drive to events in daylight, which is lovely.  Hello summer!  Meeting up with Sarah in the parking field at the start, we also bumped into my friend Jean, who borrowed my spare water bottle, as she had left hers somewhere between her house and car that morning.   She was still recovering from the London Marathon and decided to stick with us at our (slow) pace.  Peter showed up as well, along with a few other familiar faces.   The crowd of walkers set off first, and as the starthall emptied, we realized that there were very few runners.   Peter disappeared soon after muttering about shortcuts, and at the 9 a.m. runner’s start (the event was untimed), there were only 5 of us left!
I was excited to finally get to an event in Kirkby Malham as it gave me an excuse to visit the dramatic scenery in the area.  The route didn’t disappoint, as it snaked around all of the major scenic features.   After following the river up to Malham, we began the slow climb up to Kirkby Fell, passing many of the walkers who had started ahead of us.  The air was still and muggy and the sweat dripping in my eyes was an uncommon experience.   Jean managed to out climb Sarah and me, claiming that she usually runs up all the fells, while I don’t think I’ve run up a whole fell in my life.  I soon outpaced her on the downhills, which are my favorite, but we mostly all stuck together, and passed the time with entertaining conversation. 
I was experimenting with a new water bottle drinking tube system, which meant that I no longer had to carry a hand-held water bottle.   I was hoping that this would stop me from drinking so much, as I had gotten quite waterlogged for a few races.  However, I still managed to fill my hands with a walking stick, map (I was actually navigating!), and camera, so I was juggling items like crazy and generally trying not to drop the camera.  I do like having pictures afterwards, but I hate the hassle of actually dealing with the camera and stopping for photos.   After adding in an attempt to get snacks out of my pack while on the move, I’m sure I looked like a greenhorn at her first race! 
Ing Scar was our first descent, leading down to the top of Malham Cove, where we looked over the edge but didn’t get too close to the sheer cliff.   Luckily the route avoided the steep stairs and took the trail over to Gordale Scar, where we topped up on water at the checkpoint.  The trail leading into the narrow valley seemed like a dead end, until we turned the corner and it opened up into a gorgeous cavern with a waterfall at the end!  A few rock climbers were leading their way up the sides of the cliff as we passed underneath them.  The trail climbed steeply straight up the waterfall, and it was a hands and knees scramble up to the top.   From there we made our way to Malham Tarn, where an out and back section of trail brought us to the Malham Tarn checkpoint, stocked with all sorts of drinks and homemade baked goods.  I must admit that the three of us were waylaid there for quite a few minutes; snacking on rice krispy treats and what I was told were heavenly minced pies (I passed on those as I take a dim view of raisins in anything!)   
Rain started to fall gently on us over a few more miles of open moorland, but it wasn’t heavy enough to bother us as we kept up a gentle running pace.   After the Weets Top checkpoint, we ran down the bridleway in Calton Moor, which has to be the nicest descent I’ve ever seen!  It’s exactly what I always hope for at the end of a run, a gently descending slope with good footing which continued for a long ways.   It made the miles disappear, and then it was just a short way back along the river from Airton to the finish. The final route length was a bit short of the claimed 23 miles, but we weren’t complaining, and I’m sure we made up for it with a few trips back to the cars for dry clothes and sundry afterward!    The finish had another mouthwatering selection of cakes, plus a meal of pie’n’peas or jacket potato, so we happily got to replace some of those expended calories.

More photos on Flickr are here
Malham Tarn
Descending into Ing Scar
Above Malham Cove
Path into Gordale Scar
Gordale Scar -notice the rock climber on the right!

Rock scramble in Gordale Scar
Ing Scar
Ing Scar
Waterfall in Gordale Scar


  1. That's beautiful. I have happy memories of doing this event once before and long to return. Perhaps next year.

  2. Definitely want to return in the sunshine someday and explore the coves (instead of running right through them)!

  3. Great pics Dawn. When I'm finally recovered from injury would love to do that event.