I am busy preparing for tomorrow’s Gritstone Grind. This is an event organised by Rich of Beyond Marathon– Rich is a veteran of many ultra including the MdS and the Atacama Crossing, and so has a very good idea of what makes for a great day out for ultra nutters.

The Gritstone Grind follows the entire route of the long distance path known as the Gritstone Trail, which runs from the railway station at Disley, near Stockport, to Kidsgrove station, north of Stoke-on-Trent. It is 35 miles long, and our challenge is to walk the whole length of it in one day- or 12 hours to be precise. This will be my longest event for a good while and I am really nervous!

I must admit, when I first entered I thought that the trail might be flat, like the popular Tissington Trail which follows the route of an old railway. No such luck- the Gritstone Trail is hilly. We get to tackle a few well known hills such as The Cloud, Mow Cop and Tegg’s Nose. I also thought that I would have a good few months to get really fit, but it never seems to happen like that does it! I am having a good ole dose of the ‘training blues’… where you have convinced yourself that you have done nowhere near enough training for an event!

We will be starting the trail at Kidsgrove and walking north to Disley. It looks a spectacular route with some pretty scenic views over the Peak District although my ability to truly appreciate these will no doubt diminish as the day goes on. There will be a mixture of self clip and three manned checkpoints, with refreshments available although I will take a few bars with me to keep me going. I am considering whether one water bottle will be enough as the manned checkpoints are roughly 8-10 miles apart.

In order to complete the 35 miles in the 12 hour time limit, the minimum pace would be 2.9 mph, but don’t forget this doesn’t include stops or time spent getting lost, and the amount of climbing will affect walking speed. It means that I am going to need to run some of it if I‘m going to finish. Being a slow plodder I am going to probably be bringing up the rear end nicely, so my strategy is to a) settle into my slow comfy jogging pace b) run the flats and down hills for as long as I can and get stomping for the rest of the time and c) relax, stop worrying about the time limit and have a great day out!

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