Dig Deep Trail Ultra 30 2019 Race Report
If you’re thinking of entering the Dig Deep Trail Ultra 30 race, do it! Don’t be lulled into thinking it’s a soft option for an ultra though, there are several tough ascents and you’ll really feel them. This was my third time running this race, and I was super happy to finish third in my category (4th woman/15th overall)! A few tweaks from organisers Accelerate kept it fresh and added extra ascent and bog to the route (thanks for that).
Starting out from Whirlow on the edge of Sheffield, the route takes in some of the best running in the Peak District including Stanage Edge, Win Hill, and Burbage. I’d forgotten that the first stretch is uphill to Stanage, and started to worry when it felt hard. With a high proportion of tracks, trails, and few short road sections the route is very runnable though, and navigation is straightforward.
There’s a total of 1,400m ascent, the steepest being the climb up Parkin Clough to the summit of Win Hill, as well as a short sharp rise out of Bradwell, and a grinding ascent from Hathersage to the Houndkirk Road in the last few miles. As I was battling up Win Hill the two ladies in front of me were chatting away like it was a stroll in the park. They didn’t stop talking and laughing the whole way round, and I never managed to catch them after that. Meeting them at the finish line, I found out that they’re sisters and they finished joint 2/3… they’re my new heroes!
The uphill is balanced out by plenty of swift downhill sections, and a long flat run along the river to Hathersage. One of the toughest sections for me was the final ascent from Hathersage up to the Houndkirk road, which this year included the iron age hill fort Carl Wark. I might have missed the path, because the slight detour added in a patch of bog and an extra climb, with a little scramble on the descent. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I waded through the bracken on the climb through Burbage, but energy returned as Sheffield came back into view and there were just a few kilometers to go down the Limb Valley. It’s quite a busy path and it felt very weird to run the last mile of a 30 mile race past lots of people out for a weekend stroll!
Some of the route is marked, but don’t rely on it, and don’t be distracted by tape marking out the other races. My tips for preparation are: recce the route through from the aid station at Bradwell up to the track at the top, practice the ascent of Parkin Clough to the trig at Win Hill, and be prepared for the final section through Carl Wark/Burbage as the path isn’t obvious. There are no cut offs - the race starts at 8am, but if you think you might need longer the organisers invite you to start with the 60 mile runners at 6am.
With several races taking place over the weekend, including 12, 30, and 60 miles, the event has a festival set up which creates a good atmosphere, especially around the finish line. Based at Whirlow Farm, there’s a (slopey) field for camping, and the main barn is set up with food and drinks, sponsor’s stands, and there are free talks in the evening to keep you entertained and psyched for your race. Race entries include food in the barn once you cross the finish line.
I love the Dig Deep Peak Trails 30 race and I’d recommend it for anyone! With no cut off and a really accessible route, it’s ideal if you want to take on the ultra distance for the first time. If you just want to run a lovely route and enjoy yourself, there’s no pressure, and if you’re an experienced runner it’s possible to push yourself and go for a fast time. Find out more about the race and download the route at the Accelerate running events Dig Deep website.