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Dales Way Challenge

17-Aug-2019 Bowness-on-Windermere, Lake District, UK (England)


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Trail Race Race Terrain
132KM / 82Miles
2 Days - 200 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Advanced  

Entry From £125 GBP

An 82 mile Ultramarathon to celebrate 50 years of The Dales Way.

Entries will open on 31st August 2018.

The Highlights

Endorsed by The Dales Way Association

The Dales Way creator Colin Speakman will be in attendance.

36 hours to complete the 82 Mile Course.

  • 7 fully stocked checkpoints.
  • First Aid cover by Exile Medics
  • Entry fee includes hire of a GPS tracker for each entrant.
  • Start in Bowness-on-Windermere and finish in Ilkley.
  • Special Bus service available from Ilkley on Saturday morning to the start (not included in entry but will be no more than £10 per person).
  • Hot meal at the finish.
  • Drop bag service to CP5 and finish (must be self-labelled).
  • Entry fee includes £10 donations to both the Dales Way Association for upkeep of the route and also to Dales Way.
  • Buses who provide a vital service to allow people without cars to access the Dales.
  • Event T-Shirt for all entrants that report to the Finish.
  • Finishers Medal for those that complete the course.
  • Certificate for everyone that completes the course.

For those around during the daytime there will be a Dales Way 50th Anniversary Exhibition in Ilkley.

Race is registered with ITRA/UTMB with 4 points.

Compulsory Kit List. (A kit check will be carried out at a random checkpoint and you will be asked to produce one of the following, if you are found not to have it on you, you will be disqualified).

  • Waterproof Jacket with taped seams.
  • Map of route (or guide book available from  https://www.skyware.co.uk/).
  • Head Torch.
  • 1 Litre of fluids (2 recommended)
  • PLASTIC CUP – or something to drink from.
  • Energy Bar/Nutrition.
  • Survival Blanket.
  • Whistle.
  • Mobile phone with race directors number (079500008005) stored in it.
  • Hat/buff.
  • Gloves.
  • Personal First Aid Kit.

Cost £100 per runner for the first 100 entrants or until 31st December 2018 then £125 after.

Entries close 31stJuly 2019 or when list is full.


  1. No support runners allowed that have not entered (exception guide runners)
  2. No deviation of more than 500 metres from the route (this will be checked on trackers) if you go off track by mistake you must return to where you left it, otherwise you with risk a time penalty or disqualification at the Race Director’s discretion.
  3. You can get supplies on route either from shops/pubs/friends/relatives. But make sure your support watch you on the trackers and don’t wait for longer than necessary blocking narrow Dales roads.
  4. Support may be permissible at some checkpoints but check on final instructions.
  5. A GPX file will be available upon request, once entries are open.
  6. Drop bag must be no bigger than a carrier bag. Finish bag no bigger than a rucksack (unless left by you at the finish).
  7. Please be aware that checkpoints are approximately 9-12 miles apart and some of the route is over remote Dales, so please ensure you carry enough fluids and food to get you to the next checkpoint.
  8. Close all gates and leave no litter.
  9. If you arrive at a checkpoint after the cut-off your number and tracker will be removed and you will be retired from the event.
  10. If you have to retire and arrange your own transport you will still need to report to a checkpoint or the finish to return your tracker.
  11. Failure to return tracker by the close of event will incur a £2.50 daily charge until returned, if lost the fee is £150.

Punk Panther Ultra Marathons have public liability insurance, but not individual accident insurance. Entry is at competitors own risk and Punk Panther Ultra Marathons will not be held liable for any injuries incurred during or as a result of the event. All competitors agree to this as a condition of entry via a disclaimer when signing up for the event. You are recommended to take out your own personal insurance if you require it.

You will be asked to complete a self-declaration medical questionnaire prior to the event to help assist the Race Director and event medical team, and any other medical professional that may be involved in your care should it be required. This information will be destroyed after the event has concluded.

Checkpoints (Provisional)

  1. CP1 Burneside 9.6miles
  2. CP2 Beckfoot 18.5 miles
  3. CP3 Dent 30 miles
  4. CP4 Gearstones 40 miles (Drop Bag)
  5. CP5 Buckden 52 miles
  6. CP6 Grassington 63 miles
  7. CP7 Bolton Abbey 73 miles

Event Organiser
Ryk Downes



Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review Dales Way Challenge

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02:08 26-10-19

A grand day out in the Yorkshire Dales and Southern Lakeland. This race was set up by Ryk Downes who runs the excellent Punk Panther series of Ultras, now in its third year.
A great race, brilliantly and efficiently organised, excellent checkpoints and a beautiful route.
The idea of this was borne out of Ryk meeting members of the Dales Way Association, on a bus on the way back from taping one of his races. The Dales Way was to be 50 years old in 2019, with the first crossing of it made in March 1969, when I was four years old. After a conversation, one thing led to another and Ryk had the support to create the Dales Way as an Ultra.
The race runs from West to East, starting in Bowness and finishing in Ilkley. The race is faithful to the route, however is slightly longer, as a number of the checkpoints are off the route. My Garmin clocked it at 85.3 miles, 8471ft gain – but ITRA says 6400ft - and 21 hours and 55 minutes.

The race is linear, with race HQ set up at Ilkley Tennis club, which is about 1/3rd of a mile before the finish. To be true to the route you have to run past the race finish, to the walk finish, and then come back to finish the race.
Coaches were organised from Ilkley Tennis club which transported you to the registration area on the southern end of Lake Windermere. The actual race start is 5 minute walk away.
The race starts at 08:30am. Whilst being mid-August, the day was, thankfully, more like a late spring day than a late summer’s day, so conditions, above ground, were perfect. Underfoot it was very wet, due to a near week long period of rain, with lots of ponding water. However, as it was summer the ground was still quite hard, and the water was mostly just sitting on top.

The first 50 miles was much harder than expected. My prior knowledge of the Dales Way was of the Wharfedale section - which is generally good paths and reasonably flat. The section from Bowness into Wharfedale was anything but that.
Up and down, grassy fields, lots of stiles, tree roots all combined to make to pretty tough, even though there are few major climbs.

My running partners were Ian Winstanley, who I have done quite a few Punk Panther races with, and Richard Whitaker, who joined us as to make a threesome at another Punk Panther earlier in the year. Easy company and easy conversation and both are excellent navigators - with the help of Garmin GPS’s.
The other Punk Panther races are marked with yellow tape. This wasn’t. Naïvely, I thought navigation would consist of getting to the start and then following the Dales Way signs. It wasn’t.

My contribution generally consisted of looking for Dales Way signs and then pointing saying this way – typically a few seconds after Ian or Richard had decided which way. But it made me feel useful.
Checkpoints were notionally 10 miles apart. All well stocked with a good range of drinks, fizzy and flat, different snacks and fruit.

At 40 miles the Gearstones checkpoint was an oasis. Beth Downes, David Barker and Paige Barker were knocking out hot food in difficult conditions. Never has cottage pie tasted so good. This was also the bag drop, so people were staying here longer, hence it was manic, but in good way. I drank a litre of chocolate milk here, so left feeling (too) well fed.
There then follows a long drag up Cam High Road to the highest point of the race, on a good track. I had envisaged that the descent into Wharfedale would be a breeze, instead it was lots of rough tufty grass, and boggy tracks, which meant there was little gained in terms of ease and pace.
Got to Oughertshaw as darkness was falling and a light drizzle. This then commenced about 7 hours of headtorch running.
Passing through Kettlewell late at night when the scarecrow festival was on, was surreal. The last big climb happens after Buckden which takes you onto Conistone Moor and the traverse of Grassington Moor. It was misty, cool and a herd of jumpy cattle, no doubt spooked by the headtorches, to navigate through.
At Grassington, another great checkpoint, with a cheerleader, no I wasn’t hallucinating, and hot pasta.
The final few hours were one of euphoria, I knew was going to finish and in a decent time, doing 35 miles more than I had ever run before.
Day break just before Addingham was a boost and it was a relatively easy few miles to finish. The false end, having to run past the finish line was not as heart breaking as I had imagined, and before long had touched the lamppost at the Dales Way end, with secret letter gained. In order to make sure all finished the full Dales Way route a letter was posted on a lamppost next to the finish – which you had to repeat when you crossed the line.
A quick fill up with food, lift home from Richard, and I was home 30 minutes after crossing the line.

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Ali Nash

12:21 17-09-19

Dalesway 2019

Confessions of an Ultrarunner
£2.98? Is that expensive or not? I never even got a second look from Skipton folk in that Superdrug, shoes off, mid-aisle trying to select the correct shade of nail varnish, with a few tester pots on the go, and whilst getting advice from my wife. I've painted my toenails especially for my holiday in the Canaries. Not all of them, just the 4 that are in the 'less healthy' shades. There's a greenish hue (all stocked by Farrow and Ball) – ‘Wimborne White’, a mid-shade called 'Moles Breath' and then 2 in 'blood blister black' or 'Down Pipe' if we're sticking with Mr Farrow & Mr Balls official shades.
Rimmel (toe)nail varnish (it’s No.500 Caramel Cupcake if you're interested) - a remarkably lifelike tone. Once you get past the poxy little applicator brush, and swap it for a nice "2" 'Harris no-loss bristle' (for those not familiar with builders merchant parlance - 'a big paintbrush'), it's quite blokey stuff, being a bit like Dulux One Coat, just sufficiently thick enough for a swift dab, no undercoat required - even over the darkest shades, and costs about the same price as liquid gold.
It's not that I'm personally bothered, but unlike tough Yorkshire folk, camouflaging ones nails does help prevent the gag reflex from Johnny Foreigner holidaymakers in the pool. If I'd not taken part in the Dalesway Challenge, racing for 16 hours across 82 miles of mixed terrain from Bowness to Ilkley I would have never experienced such moments weeks later- truly the race that keeps on giving.
Way back in 2018, only moments after the Dalesway had been suggested as a race by Ryk Downes and Punk Panther Ultramarathons, I was signed up. All was going perfectly, a full winter of hard fell training, and a recce of the route on my birthday weekend. The expertly planned 2019 diary of build-up ultras did not fare so well during the key months in the immediate lead up - a 6 hour distance challenge (DNS due to man flu) the Cortina Trail Ultra in the mountains of the Italian Dolomites (DNS after a torn hamstring whilst trail racing in the glamour location of Bolton) followed up by the Ben Vorlich ultra in the Highlands (another DNS - still hamstrung...) 5 weeks of inactivity...my mind festering over the likelihood of the Dalesway going down the pan as well, not helped by Garmin connect telling me to move, and piping up daily that I was becoming detrained. Thanks. By July I was back moving and it was make or break, just 5 weeks to get back in shape. Not following the usual advice to build back slowly, I thrashed out over 320 miles and almost exactly the height of Everest in ascent, whilst repeatedly exposing myself to dehydration and 'the wall' as mental training. Race day came a knocking all too soon, a 6am bus convoy from Ilkley to Bowness, heading towards the lake district in torrential rain...after a week of torrential downpours. This is going to be moist.. replaces vest with tee, gets out jacket, hat, arrive at Bowness, its blazing.....puts away jacket & hat and vest back on. Hundreds of us tough 'ard as nails ultrarunners huffed our way up Brantsfell road to the start, avoiding any mud or puddles. Go!! 2 minutes later were wading ankle deep, only another 16 hours to develop trench foot... Desperate to pace it properly and not go off like a *****, as per usual, I led for the first few miles. the Dalesway really twists and turns over the first 10 miles through to the checkpoint at Burnside, deceptively strenuous, but I was sitting comfortably in 3rd only a few seconds off the pace. Feeling great, only 72miles left😎. 10 miles now through to the M6 at Beckfoot- more twists and turns over roads paths tracks fields railways woods & moors. It was warming up nicely with a gusty westerly. Perfect. Still in 3rd but with a gaggle hard on my heels arriving at the checkpoint as I refilled another litre of water and snaffled a couple of bananas. 10 miles now through to Dent, with a stiff moor climb halfway through, my wife Louise waiting for me ‘somewhere near Dent’ so I could get a brew.
Absolutely vital. Tea. Gallons of it. That was going to be part of the race plan, along with anything else I could force down. Turns out that's crisps. Bloody gorgeous. By Dent the weather was getting a bit 'ot. Probably the first and only time I doubted myself, 30 miles done just over 5 hours down, 52m left. Checkpoint 3 done - a swift zip over the moor/bogs to Ribblehead (with a stop for a double hit of tea at Dent Head Viaduct). The poles came into their own from here, helping to keep the hammer down and try gain on second - the elusive Ellis Bland, I'd keep on getting glimpses ahead.... Gearstones, checkpoint 4. Thoroughly filthy, thoroughly sweaty and thoroughly sure both my big toenails were both feeling mushy, not a great sign with 40miles left. A double mug of tea here as well (that’s 5 now) and off to chase Ellis. A big long climb up Cam and then into bandit country.....the bogs across to Oughtershaw, 11km without even GPS tracker reception. So across at Buckden , Louise, joined by friends Tim and Kay were dot watching No52 on the tracking website and having a mini panic.... oh crap, the tracker hasn't moved, he's broken, he's fallen in a bog and died, he's just died..... only as I came thundering into Buckden did they realise I was still going (really great local support on the bridge and a fantastic checkpoint) oranges, tea, more tea, some more tea (that’s 8 cups) and crisps, lots of crisps. Seabrooks salt and vinegar. Richard Smith had unexpectedly (but very much welcomed) joined the Coach Nash support crew and stated his intention to take position at each hostelry from Buckden to Grassington. That's taking support to the next level…..!!
(Richard’s review of events was equally inspiring…. “All the effort of getting to a rendezvous pub, sampling local ales while we waited to cheer you on was worth it. When we met a concerned crew of Louise and Tim in Buckden and your no 52 tracker 'died in a bog' just outside Hubberholme my driver Lynne did suggest we could tick off another pub and could go up to the George... but suddenly you were arriving in Buckden. I had to sprint from the Buck Inn to catch you!! After we had cheered you on from the pit stop By the time we had eaten, stopped for a half at the fox and hounds in Starbotton we missed catching you at the Blue Bell, Racehorses and Kings Head in Kettlewell!!. Tonic drinker Driver Lynne told me to get a move on halfway through a nice Hetton pale ale causing some stomach cramps but I struggled on with it as we might crash speeding through the back road to Grassington. Your timing was perfect as we only got time for what turned out to be my last pint of the night ....Taylor's Landlord at the Devonshire arms in Grassington. Plans to get to the Red Lion Burnsall or the Craven arms in Appletreewick were abandoned by considerate carer Lynne who decided to drive me home .... asleep in the passenger seat! Another example of my bad pace setting on race day. I think slowing down to halves pace, some water and eating more crisps could have let me complete the duration of this ultra challenge so may be I'll return next year with a better support strategy. There are a few good rendezvous in Sedberg and Dent to consider too but that really would be beyond my capacity of endurance.. . Unless I train harder??” )

5 checkpoints down, 53miles or so done, just 30 left and all on familiar terrain, zapping through to Kettlewell for more tea (that's 9 now) and huge cheers from the crew (as they shall be known) off Kettlewell bridge. Feeling bloody great but definitely right the big toe is now oozy. Checked outside of trainer for blood...phew. Leaving Kettlewell with just the big ascent over Grassington Moor to get done before nightfall. With a full blood moon emerging you don’t want to stray off the path.....by now Tim was apparently getting a bit nervous about keeping up 😂, as he was going to joining me for the last bit at night along the river through to Ilkley. The fact that at Grassington- checkpoint 6 - more tea ( that’s 11 now) my world was a bit wobbly and I'd seen a bear (turned out to be a rabbit) Tim was feeling more confident about keeping up 😂. All lit up with headtorches ablaze it was a quick dash through to Burnsall and more cheering off the bridge (cup 12 - provided by the Red Lion) and straight off heading for Barden, where cup 13 awaited. Barden.... that's just 10 miles or so left. 3 parkruns. 12 laps of Lister Park. Bolton Abbey checkpoint came in a flash, although Tim somehow managed to run through a (hallucinatory) giant stag despite my shouting.....never even flinched didn’t the lad.... just a couple of riverside miles to Addingham....home territory and a brew (14) at the suspension bridge. 3 left. Just 3 miles. Don’t bloody jinx it. Keep quiet. Just run. As the Ilkley Tennis Club came into view i did have a bit of a whoop, arms aloft past the finish line (although not quite finished) and started to sprint for the Dalesway end only 1/2mile further. 15hrs 59mins and 8 seconds I was sat on that seat. Done. Almost, just a sprint back to the finish. 16hrs 3 minutes. Way inside my estimate of 17-18hrs. Just time for a medal, 3rd place trophy, congratulate Ellis in 2nd and a half past midnight cuppa (No15).
Huge thanks to the organisers, marshalls, random supporters and my 'crew' of Wife Louise, friends Kay, Tim and Richard and Tim again for accompanying me to the finish. What a day (and night).
As the race that race that keeps on giving, I also discovered soon after the finish that it's possible to faint (twice) whist showering and still remain standing.
Finally, as I write this, a foreign child is screaming in the pool.....Rimmel 'caramel cupcake' may be the right shade but it can't disguise a floating big toenail.... Take up ultrarunning. You'll love it.

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