(56 miles in the glorious Peak District!)
A VIEW OF MARS!
A most unusual thing happened to the 28th Bullock Smithy Hike - it rained first thing on the Saturday morning, giving fears of a lower entry. Not so. The sun came out and the entries rose to 210 with 189 starters who, on hearing the crash of the hammer on the traditional anvil by Venture Scout Leader Stephen Holt, made their way from Devonshire Park, Hazel Grove for a long 56 mile run or walk in Derbyshire. Event organiser, Peter Wood, in presenting the final instructions, said it was Stephen's idea to change the concluding stages of the route some three years ago and as he was not only starting the event, he was also competing himself, his fellow 188 participants may like to have a word with him, during the event, about the changes!
The weather forecaster's prediction of abysmal weather, particularly on the Sunday morning, thankfully, proved inaccurate. Conditions, both under foot and weather, were excellent, although some did experience one heavy shower but any discomfort was soon forgotten in the cool evening and clear night illuminated by a bright moon and Mars.
As in past years, there was strong local North West and Yorkshire support but many entrants travelled long distances from various parts of the UK, from Kent to Edinburgh and the Isle of Man. One, Scott West came from California, USA although at present he is working in Nottingham. Another, Ben Lepper from New Zealand carried a small recorder and a large microphone around recording views from other walkers. Ben is working with Radio Brighton. Both finished. Regular entrant George Matuszewski with mascot "Jogging Joe" turned up. Another regular Peter Cooke entered but didn't turn up. Apparently he had broken his little toe in the kitchen! So his dad, Brian, was ordered to represent the Cooke family but unfortunately he had to retire. Xena, a six year old Alsation, arrived with her master on the end of a lead. Unfortunately, Neil retired at Earl Sterndale so she did not get a certificate.
Our thanks go to all the entrants for their support, to the land and property owners, to the sponsors, and to the wonderful army of helpers on the checkpoints, control desk, transport, in the kitchen etc. and to Stephen (again) and Sherry (they are getting married in two weeks) for presenting the trophies and certificates. Without your enthusiastic support there would not be a Bullock Smithy event. Congratulations to all those who completed the route which passed through 13 checkpoints at Bowstones, Chinley, Edale Cross, Edale, Castleton, Peak Forest, Millers Dale, Chelmorton, Earl Sterndale, Brand Top, Cumberland Cottage, Walker Barn, and Whiteley Green returning to Hazel Grove within the 24 hour time limit, Commiserations to the 50 who retired.
John Corfield, John Feist and Peter Wood - Hike Organisers.
And the verdict of the participants....
The anvil struck at midday sharp: its hollow ringing filled the sky.
One-hundred-eighty pairs of feet unleashed to pound the earth and try
To conquer through the mist of pain and suffering to win the prize
Of triumph over arduous toils where deeper understanding lies.
The many months of preparation culminate in this ordeal
To seek to find new personal strengths; to make each living moment real.
To learn when all seems lost and time is floating in a haze of pain
That deep inside you can go on and reach the goal you seek to gain.
O'er hillsides steep and valleys low one-hundred-eighty walkers go,
Aware of time and distance, neither too far fast, nor far too slow.
A lengthening line which points the way accross the Peak, which neutral lie
To judge the mettle, test the strength and sort those worthy of the prize.
The body works in harmony, the mind and face still wreathed in smiles
And nothing seems impossible, not least those six-and-fifty miles.
But as the night-time draws its shroud and distance counted takes its toll
The smiles dissolve and now resolve must billow up to fill the hole.
One-hundred-eighty pairs of feet begin to feel the awful strain.
One-hundred-eighty enter in; One-hundred-sixty start again.
And at each stop, each blessed rest, the numbers dwindle one by one
As warmth and comfort work their spells and tell you that you can't go on.
To wrench a way into the dark with muscles screaming 'gainst the choice
Of pressing forward, lurching onward, listening to that still small voice
From deep inside, it louder calls, "you can't give in; go on you must!"
And knowing that you can't continue, in that voice you place your trust.
One-hundred-forty pain-wracked bodies still the hills and valleys roam.
One-hundred-thirty limping warriors fight the fight to get back home.
And as the dawn breaks in the east, suffusing all the world with light,
One-hundred-twenty walkers stay wrapped up inside their personal night.
And finally when all is done and every strength has grown too weak
The eyes alone through mists of tears at last pick out the goal you seek.
Forgotten feelings once again burst forth and tingle down your spine
As strangely light you float across the Bullock Smithy finish line.
Stuart M. Vernon