Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dark 'Un 2013

The Dark Un has been and gone. The focus of so much of my attention for the last couple of months is over. How did it go? Well, I must say it went pretty darned well again. I had a few on-the-night glitches which had the stressometer bouncing off the rev limiter but they were soon resolved. They did make me realise that I need to factor in a few contingency plans for next year.
At the risk of sounding like one of those tedious American style over emotional types the thing that struck me yet again was - how many people 'got' it. I put a lot into this race, both time and effort. I like people to know what's going on, I like to inject some fun into the proceedings, I like to have a couple of social recce runs in both daylight and darkness so that people know what to expect and, you know, I really believe that people pick up on this.
There are some truly nice folk doing the race and there are a whole lot of bloody good people helping to make it what it is. I have been even more aware this year of the kindness and generosity that people have shown - donating presents, marshalling, helping mark the course, lending walkie talkies and much more. It's been quite humbling.
On the night we got 62 runners taking part, a bit down on the 75 limit but not to worry. I had been marking out earlier in the day and had a look at two areas of the course with ice on. The night before I had a sleepless night worrying about this - should I re-route, or even cancel? On inspection I opted, correctly I feel, to make sure that everyone was well appraised of the danger and put extra marshals in the problem areas.
Shortly after 7.30pm they all charged off into the darkness and then it was all pretty much out of my control. Last year there was a bit of a lull at this point but this time it seemed to be pretty headlong immediately - setting up the finish, getting the fire bin lit(!), getting the water station sorted and all the timers and finish line crew sorted and in place. It flew by. Last year I'd had at least one pint by this stage and was far more sanguine and relaxed about things. I definitely make a mistake in doing without - note to self for next year: get some pints paid on beforehand!
Once we were set up and organised my phone rang. It was Will up at the moortop Acid House Disco (what? Doesn't every fell race have one?) to say that the leader had just gone through. Blimey, it was going to be a quick time! Soon, away up the field, a little twinkling light became brighter and brighter and then Mark Russell flew across the finish line for a comfortable win in a new record time. He won it last year too and seems to be making the race his own.
After a short while the second placed runner arrived and then the flood gates opened and it was pretty much a stream of people coming in. I tried to give everyone a quick 'well done, thanks for doing it' and a handshake. I still couldn't relax and kept checking with the timing crew that all was well. They were fantastic and had no problems at all. Very organised and efficient.
Soon they were all home and heading off to get changed. I cleared the finish line and put the fire out before heading to the marquee that Mark and Alison of the Royal had kindly put on for us. Inside there was a great hubub of knackered runners swapping tall tales, supping beer and queueing up for their chip butties.
Paul Livsey put me out of my sobriety by furnishing me with a pint that barely touched the sides and then it was time to do the presentation.
Forcing back my natural shyness I had to become Mr Sparkle, race organiser. I balanced unsteadily on a bench in front of a table laden with prizes and did my 'Thank you's'. Alison and Mark had provided bottles of wine for the age group winners and everyone got something off the table too - sweets, beer and Body Shop stuff. I also gave a prize for best reaction to the disco because ... well, just because it amused me I suppose! Then some spot prizes and a couple of throw outs until everything went. Phew! I could relax at last.
Back into the pub and the beer began to flow. It turned into an excellent night with loads of banter. There's few things better in life than a good Dashers piss up! Eventually it was time to get home and so we packed 7 people into a 5 seater car and set off for Darwen. Gifford in the boot, Linda across the back row knees and Vikki with her head out the window, throwing up.
As I've said before a lot of people gave a lot of help for the event and I am really indebted to them all. You know who you are. By the time I'd finished clearing the last of the course markers away on Saturday I was receiving emails from people who'd taken part thanking us for putting it on and especially thanking the brilliant, enthusiastic marshals.
Will it be on next year? If Alison and Mark will have us, if Untited Utilities give us permission, if the FRA will insure it, then Hell Yes! See you there!
Results  here:
Thanks to:
The Royal - chip butties, prizes and venue
All Dashers and friends who helped in any way.
Sweatshop for race numbers and vouchers
Sport Sunday for attending and loan of walkie talkies
Frank Barnes for loan of skip lights
Lancashire Telegraph for helping promote it and sending a photographer/ reporter
Bolton Mountain Rescue Team
Every single person that took part.

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