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The Limestone Way

06-Oct-2019 Ashbourne Leisure Centre, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, UK (England)

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2 REVIEWS
Trail Race Race Terrain
69KM / 43Miles
1 Day - 300 Runners

Alternate Distances: 27KM/17M

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Intermediate  

Entry From £50 GBP

The fourth running of the Limestone Way Ultra – a 43 mile/69 km point to point trail running event following the iconic Limestone Way all the way from White Peak to Dark Peak through the Peak District National Park.

The Limestone Way “Half” takes place on the same day but competitors will tackle just the northern 17 miles (27.5 km) section of the route.

Event Summary

After a highly successful inaugural event in 2016 the popularity of this event has continued each year and the 2019 event will follow exactly the same format as the previous three events.

The 'journey' from Ashbourne in the White Peak to Hope in the Dark Peak uses a combination of footpaths and bridleways with some interlinking country lanes and is 42.9 miles (69 km) with 4419 feet (1347m) of climbing making it not only a fantastic running challenge but also an excellent day out in the Peak District National Park.

The route passes through dramatic dales and beautiful Peakland villages all set within a green, gently rolling landscape. It is named after the white carboniferous limestone which is prevalent in the landscape in the southern part of the Peak Park.

The Limestone Way Half takes place on the same day but competitors tackle just the northern 17 miles (27.5km) section of the route starting in Monyash and finishing in Hope.

The Limestone Way is well way marked for the majority of its route but for the event there will be additional signage (arrows) placed at “key” junctions and other locations where it is felt necessary.

This event is challenging and previous experience is essential for anyone tackling the full (ultra) distance – when you enter you need to provide details of similar distance events that you have undertaken in the past 2 years.

There will be three (one on the half) marshalled checkpoints/feed stations en-route which will provide drinks and nutritional snacks; all checkpoints will have a cut off times after which runners will not be allowed to continue and when convenient you will be transported to the finish.

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Dark & White Events

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Beginner

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.

Intermediate

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.

Advanced

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.

Expert

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.

Brutal

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.

Review The Limestone Way

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SarahCrunning

11:43 08-10-18

I ran this in 2018 – the third edition of the race. It has the feel of a more well-established event with slick organisation and great volunteers. The event starts in Ashbourne, with the first 4-5 miles being relatively easy running on the Tissington Trail. You then join the Limestone Way and work your way up the White Peak to Hope, on the edge of the Dark Peak. There is a coach from Hope on the morning of the race to take people to the start – I much prefer this to having to travel back to the start from the finish at the end of a race.

Runners were grouped into four start times at 10-minute intervals. I wasn’t sure why it was organised like this – it is a small race and not a bottle-neck start. The start times were not based on predicted finish times, and it meant some of the runners who arrived on the coach had quite a bit of hanging around to do at registration. Registration itself was slick, and everyone was provided with maps and additional course notes as well as a dibber to be scanned at the start, finish and each checkpoint. I never needed to use the maps as navigation was straightforward. The Limestone Way is a waymarked trail, and there were additional course markings wherever the route deviated from the Limestone Way and at all key turnings or areas of possible confusion. There is also a GPX file of the route available.

The race has three checkpoints, so you do need to be able to carry enough with you to last up to 14 miles, but the checkpoints had a small range of sweet and savoury options and did the job nicely. There was hot food at the finish, and some decent prizes – I was runner-up in my age category, but didn’t place overall. That was still enough for me to receive a book voucher and a beanie. There are also gold, silver and bronze certificates, depending on your finish time, which may add to the motivation to push yourself.

The route itself is very pretty. Despite the name, it is not all limestone. The first 26 miles contains a lot of open farmland with beautiful views. This does mean that there are an awful lot of gates, stiles and narrow gaps in walls which can make it difficult to find a rhythm in your running. However, this section is very runnable. There is a decent amount of elevation, but nothing overly technical. We had a dry day, but there had been some rain the day before. There was a little mud, and I imagine the route could get very muddy if there had been several days of rain.

The last 17 miles of the race (the route for the ‘half’ Limestone Way) is a little different. The trails are more varied and are lovely, but there are some very rocky sections, which may be harder if you are not used to it. There is only one tricky, technical descent – Cave Dale at around 40 miles is steep and slippery and not runnable. In wet weather, you would need to be extremely careful. This is the only section of this level of difficult, and it is not a long descent. Around half of the last 17 miles is on the road – for me, this felt like a bit of a slog, but it may appeal to others. It does give you an opportunity to run without stopping for gates and stiles.

Overall, this is a scenic route and a well-organised race. It would be suitable as a first ultra provided you have some trail and hill running experience. If you prefer the more challenging terrain of the Dark Peak, then other races may suit you better.

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Runmoor

11:39 02-10-17

2017

The Limestone Way Ultra is only in its second year but it ticks lots of boxes already.

The three big boxes:
Takes place on a Sunday - some of us work on Saturdays and 'most' ultras tend to be Saturdays. Tick.

It's a 'journey' rather than just a 'run route', point to point. I like 'journeys' rather than just 'run races'. Tick.

Its 'Timing awards' gives everyone a goal to aim for, gold, silver or bronze certificate based on time windows.

In addition it was 'fully marked' and had 3 fully stocked checkpoints - not particular tick box material for me but it would certainly attract those that are running scared of map/ compasses and those that like their picnics, (that's 99% of runners right?)
Oh and for me, it was local - spanning the gorgeous white Peak and dark Peak District landscapes.

Its smaller sister run the 'Ultra Half' started just over half way and contained 17 glorious miles of mud, hills and slippery limestone.

Immaculately organised, Ultra runners were shipped from the finish at Hope in the Dark Peak to Ashbourne in the White Peak passing through a multitude of shades of grey at 5am in the morning.

Runners were to choose their start times within a 30 minute window, which meant you never really knew where you were in the field. The first 5 miles are on the very gentle gradients of the Tissington Trail. It then takes a turn off into some delightfully muddy fields. Although runners were given maps at the HQ start there was little need for map reading skills, most turnings or tricky stiles were carefully marked with brightly coloured arrows. Where the route left the traditional Limestone Way trail there were further signs to aid all runners.

3 Checkpoints en route, amply stocked with bananas, cakes, flapjacks and gels as well as water and juice. The first one at the top of quite a steep hill in the little village of Bonsall some 14 miles in was a welcome sight.

The route between Bonsall and the next checkpoint at Monyash was a plethora of sloppy fields, muddy trails, charming but sometimes tricky ascent and descents, and pleasant forestry trails. The diversity of the route kept every runner on their toes.

The checkpoint at Monyash was even better stocked with a plethora of cakes, salty snacks, gels and bananas. It even had the 'chair of doom' - anyone for a sit down? No! Don’t do it!

From Monyash to Peak Forest, the route took our footprints through some more delightfully grassful pathways. The navigation was immaculate, at every conceivable point there seemed to be a bright arrow hanging from either the stiles, lampposts or other obscure objects. Even the cows were behaving and looked less startled than the DOE (Duke of Edinburgh) groups who littered the trails with their immense gear.

Miller Dale was perhaps quite tricky - some 100 or so sticky steps and a further drop down a slippery limestone slope. From there onwards the Limestone Way Bridleway meandered up the valley with added slush to clad up the trail shoes even further. This was all part of the fun of the playground of this Ultra event.

Despite the 5500ft of climb it never felt that hilly and there were even some 'fun' descents to play with including down one of the very few tarmac sections into Hay Dale. Just before the descent if you were lucky you would see a goat on the roadside tied up perhaps 'marshalling' the event to ensure everyone followed the correct route? The picturesque limestone out rocks embraced the valley of Hay Dale allowed for effortless running even 34 miles in.

Peak Forest was again very well stocked with all the goodies needed to feed the energy needed for the final climb which gave way stunning views of the Dark Peak Skyline, with the notorious Kinder and Mam Tor shining in the distance.

The last 4 miles are all downhill or flat but not that fast, hold on tight for Cave Dale. Tricky at its best and risky at its worst, with streams of water pouring down the slippery limestone, tip toeing down the polished rock cautiously was the nature of the game.

The last two miles of flowing trails allow for speedier running, but were not without the muddle and bustle of the previous 41 miles, especially as the ultra half runners had churned up the course even further.

Tea a hot meal and cake awaited the exhausted runners at the end. The Limestone Way certainty contains the essential ingredients of a successful Ultramarathon.

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