FKT: Ross Jenkin - Derwent Watershed - 2023-01-30

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 21m 48s

The National Parks Ultra Project  has begun in The Peak District with the Derwent Watershed.


This day was meant to be a couple of weeks ago but had to be postponed due to gale force winds and flooding.  So today, 30th Jan, was the day - doing this so late in the month effectively means I have 11 months to complete 15 Ultras, but since when did I make things easy for myself.


The last few weeks has seen an amazing bunch of people whom I have never met (bar one) offer to come and support me on the route.  One of the best things about these challenges is the people you meet.


I was due to start this morning at 8am and I was preparing myself for the off when I got a message that the first supporters train had been cancelled!  A short panic but we arranged a taxi and we ended up starting at 8:05ish.


We got up on to the tops with some great conversation to be faced with some serious wind buffeting us.  The first few km and peaks ticked by quickly and we met the next supporters at Mam Tor.  We carried on and covered the ground efficiently.  Another supporter joined near Brown Knoll.  Over Kinder and on to Kinder Downfall and the wind had dropped a little so the miles were feeling a little easier.  We carried on to Snake Pass and I was pleased to see that my kit I had stashed was still there !


A quick footwear change from the Ultra 100s to the Feline SL as the terrain coming up was softer and muddier, a bite to eat and a new supporter to accompany me onwards. This is where it got tough.  After Bleaklow, the paths became non-existent, and it was peat bogs and peat hags one after another.  It was energy sapping and difficult to get any real rhythm.  We both managed to avoid the man eating bogs but I did get stuck up to my thigh at one point.


Eventually, we reached Back Tor and 2 more supporters joined and running was actually possible now over the slabs of Millstone grit. But my legs and hips were getting sore.  I managed to keep eating with a mixture of Voom bars, and jaffa cakes and the Voom carbohydrate drink seemed to be doing its job really well.  


At one point I thought "I have 47 mins to do 8km to get sub 8".  I laughed to myself and just kept plodding on. 


The next 3 or 4 km was tough and everything hurt so I focused on the why to stave off the pain.  Poor mental health amongst men is at an all-time high and the rate of suicide is simply staggering.  Part of the reason I am doing this challenge and others before is to raise awareness and encourage others to talk about what's bothering them.  This isn't easy but each one of us need to make it easier for those around us.  Take the stigma away.


I have had a few periods off work for my mental health, and I have had suicidal thoughts in the past.  Only a few weeks ago, I had a massive blip for no apparent reason - basically lots of little things building up.  According to the doctors, I do all the right things - I talk, I run, I get into nature, I have therapy regularly but still it wasn't enough so for the first time, I have started medication.  It seems to be working.  I feel more grounded and in a better position to deal with the shit.  Talk - it helps.  


So, back to the run.  The last 5 km was mostly downhill, and although sub 8 hrs had evaded me, I could still do sub 8:30.  So I pushed, shouting obscenities every few steps, until the finish was in sight, and I virtually sprinted the last 400m to Yorkshire Bridge, where I finished in a very respectable 8:21:48.


I am sure someone has probably done it quicker, but until they register it on the fastest known time website, I will hold the official FKT!


Thank you all for your support and a massive thankyou to James, Ben, Amy, Nathan, Andy, Robert, and Roger.