Red Rose 100 Marshals Walk

Marshalling the Red Rose 100

The South Manchester group have regularly supported the Marshals 100, providing the Breakfast stop. This year Quentin had organised for us to support the Red Rose 100, doing the breakfast stop at Newton Village Hall. Three of our members were doing the walk, Peter Schick (I forget how many 100's he has done but it is 30 or more), Frank Tonge and Steve Blackshaw. Steve Osborne was able to act as Peters chauffeur, out and back.

Of course we like to incorporate some walking into these weekends, including part of the overnight sections of the 100 route, a reconnaissance for Roger who will be walking on the main event. Steve was to lead, Roger to advise him on the 100 route, whilst David (our Chairman), Dave, Richard and I made up the rest of the party. We ascended Pendle Hill, sticking to the Red Rose route, including the 'self clip' point and onto the summit. Surprisingly we got a view. Cold winds blew, lightly clad runners skipped over the top; doing a 13 mile run; somehow keeping warm. This is my third ascent of Pendle Hill and the weather has always been poor.

We descended northwards down the zig-zags, a path that is not too bad in daylight but was to prove problematical at night. We passed through one of the fellrunners checkpoints and continued to Downham where we 'finished' the fell race. At the village green we bumped into the South Pennine group, also doing a recce. South Manchester walker Bob Kelly was with them. 'What are you doing here', we asked, ' you said that you could not help us on the checkpoint because you were going climbing'. 'Well it's too wet for climbing' was his excuse, 'so I joined the South Pennine recce'. Bob will be walking on the main event. We hid in the info centre to have our butties; very timely; for the rain had now started. According to the met office it was only a light shower, it just lasted all afternoon. We continued towards the Nick of Pendle via Worston. Just before the Nick we climbed up onto Pendle Hill and followed the 100 route over Spence Hill. The rain was now driven by strong winds. Guess which twit had forgotten his overtrousers (which I detest) and got cold and wet as a result. Overnight the weather on this section was to be far worse. On to Newchurch from where it is a short walk to Barley.

Our modest stroll had covered 13 3/4 mles and 2,500ft ascent or thereabouts.

We drove to Newton, one of those remote spots that escapes the attention of mobile phone coverage (that seems to be about half of Britain). We found the village hall and places to park (not easy). Quentin was there and we met Reg ('Placebo') who was to be our first aider.

What to do before the walkers arrived? You guessed it, off to the pub. The Palmers Arms in Newton was not recommended so off we went to the Hark to Bounty in Slaidburn. I was there a couple of weeks ago with The Irregulars on a much nicer day. Steve had volunteered to stay at Newton to look after the food and baggage deliveries, a noble self sacrifice. Our meals were excellent and good value, the beer superb. Two lasses from East Lancs, Helen (the organiser) and Gillian joined us. One of them had lost her voice; I bet her husband liked that!

Back at Newton, Nancy, our second first aider had arrived. She proved to be great company. Dave and I attempted to get a short kip in our vans. Quentin was to wake us at 1:30am, checkpoint opening time. He woke us just after midnight, a timing error he said, humm! Everything ready we just had to wait for our first walker. That was Dave Findel-Hawkins who skipped in at about 2:30am looking as fit as a fiddle and not like someone who had just walked 58 miles in pouring rain. In the early hours there were large gaps between walkers. The early ones looked fit though Madeline Watson looked tired and Stephanie le Men was frozen stiff, shattered and close to hypothermia (both finished, Stephanie being the first lady finisher). Ken Falconer was in his gardening clothes as usual, it works for him. Quentin went off for a 10 minute kip (it lasted more like 100 minutes).

Our first rush was at around 5:30am (8 walkers) with 12 more at around 7:00am. We were now getting organised. Quentin did the registration, Steve sorted the bags, Dave and Richard did a brilliant job cooking the 'Full English Breakfast' complete with Black Pudding and eggs of every variety (see note) whilst David's porridge was very popular. He put some magic ingredient in it, I know not what, but Castle Cement works are nearby. I was the dogsbody, doing the teas, weak tea, builders tea, cold tea (it is complex making tea!) and coffee plus doing the washing up. All lent a hand at all tasks. I have difficulty in understanding the popularity of full 'English' breakfasts on long walks such as this (and they are popular); finding a large meal and walking mutually incompatible, just giving me gut ache and exhaustion. Little and often is best. Porridge is fine, it is easily digested (I brought my own breakfast of Jordans granola and home-made bread. I have not had a cooked breakfast in years).

Feet were a problem; cold, bruised, blistered and wrinkled it is here that Reg and Nancy shone. Warm water baths were provided, feet massaged, dressed and blister pads applied. Nancy was so good at it that it looked like she had set up a foot fetishists parlour, the relief and ecstasy on the faces of her clients all too obvious, especially Frank Tonge whose expression said......well I had better stop! Unfortunately Frank retired at Dunsop Bridge.

Our walkers were now looking much tireder. 'I have still got 44 miles to walk' calculated Peter Bruniges who looked as if he did not have strength to stand up (he finished). We despatched them looking better than when they arrived.

Our last rush was at around 10:30ish, some 12 people. Four of them retired here. At last Peter Schick arrived, gong much slower than normal. He managed to complete the walk in just over 46 hours, his slowest yet. Our youngest 'walker' appeared - just 11 weeks old, her arrival a delight to Nancy (a midwife) and to the other ladies (well Red Rose photos show him at the start). OK so he was supporting Dad. The arrival of the sweeper said that we had won and ahead of schedule too.

When everyone had gone, walked off or transported off in the body wagon it was time to clear up. The washing up and clearing up seemed endless, Roger had great fun with a floor brush, and I like to think that we left the hall clean and tidy; to the caretakers satisfaction I hope. I hope that our services met with the satisfaction of all entrants and (thanks Reg and Nancy) of their feet! East Lancs certainly did a good job on organisation.

Best of luck to The Irregulars who will have 500 tired and hungry walkers to feed on the main event. I hope they get better weather.

Duncan Smith.


Just to be pedantic.............(me!!!!!!!!!)

They are really 'Ancient British' breakfasts.

The dark age myth 'The Dream of Lord Maxen' (Maximus Maximius) is very garbled but can be cross checked against the history books. Referring to events concerning Maximus's attempt at imperial power in AD388 (using the Romano-British garrison) it says that 'the Britons favoured a large breakfast'.

St Augustine running out of theological arguments against his British rival Pelagius accused him of being 'A fat, porridge eating Briton'.




Diary of a Mud Slogger - The Red Rose 100 Mile Marshals Walk.

We’ve had some lovely warm spring days recently but this is not going to be one of them. For us the Pendle Witches have reserved a wintry chill and almost non-stop rain. 

Saturday, 10:00. Off we go. Having sought some sponsorship I have to finish, so I’ve set myself a relaxed 40 hour time schedule - mustn’t risk going too fast and blowing up. 

Saturday, 16:00. The first 17 miles pass easily enough at near 3.5 miles per hour, putting me over an hour and a half up on schedule and I feel quietly confident.

Saturday, 19:30, 33 miles. But - - -  all too soon it starts to go to the winds, literally. After Nick of Pendle there is a 4Km trudge across a high open moor and the wind, always brisk, now hammers us at 55 mph, ‘Near Gale Force’ in weatherspeak - people are blown over, as I likely would have been without my walking poles. You can do without this with another 80 miles ahead of you and there will be more of the same up on Pendle Hill, which is the next lump to be tackled. Amazingly, 47 of the 51 starters have survived, though more will drop out later. Down in the village someone drives past in a Mini with the reg number W111 TCH.

The buffeting has really knocked the stuffing out of me and I find the 1,000 foot climb up Pendle a slow haul.

Saturday 23:00, 38 miles. There’s more drama up here; not only the gale, but it’s night now and the mist is down as well; people will say they couldn’t even see the torches of others walking a mere 10 yards away. The path along the ridge is obvious in daylight but now, even with my GPS, I keep finding it and losing it again. It’s a great relief to locate the stile over the wall at the northern end, start my descent and, hopefully, find some shelter from the maelstrom. The rest of the route will not climb so high any more but my troubles are still not over, not by a long chalk. The non-stop downpour has drenched the ground and the steep descent is a slippery squelch, as will all the field paths be for the rest of the route.

Sunday 00:00, 40 miles. Many of the walkers will say the navigation on this event was hard - fields at night can be awkward, especially when you have to find a stile hidden in a hedge at the other side; and it doesn’t help when a farmer has obligingly ploughed up the footpath. Luckily I came out and looked at this section before the event, so I have a rough idea where things are.

Sunday, 3:25, 45 miles. I think age is finally getting to me; I don’t have the resilience I once did and, despite trying to keep the pace sensible, the battle with the weather has taken its toll. Now I ‘hit the wall’, my stomach plays up and I can’t face any food. This is not good - I’ll not do another 55 miles running on an empty tank. If I wasn’t sponsored I think I’d have thrown in the towel here. Being sponsored, though, means that pride kicks in. How do you face people and tell them you failed? Do you give them their money back?  Pride wins. After a half hour rest, I recover enough to try and wander on a bit further. Dawn is starting to break, which is always heartening.

Sunday, 7:30, 51 miles. It’s a significant boost when I reach the Gisburn Forest at the northern end of the route, am halfway and turn the corner to head for home. It’s also a delight here to hear my first cuckoo of the season. Only 50 miles to go. Did I say ‘only?’ Don’t think about it - just take it one checkpoint at a time.

Sunday, 10:50, 58 miles. It’s been fairly level going for a while and, by the time I reach the so-called breakfast stop, I can face a few beans and an egg. My own South Manchester Group is manning this checkpoint and the welcome also lifts the spirits. Actually, the support at all the checkpoints is fantastic.

Sunday, 14:57. First Finisher, David Findel Hawkins, arrives back at HQ - lucky fellow; will hear he looked fresh as a daisy - he wasn't out very long was he!

Sunday, 17:00, 70 miles. It hadn’t dawned on me that there are now two long and steep climbs over the next stages and they go hard - but at least it’s stopped raining - briefly. There follows a descent under the trunks of trees blown over by the gale; that might be entertaining under other circumstances, but my legs are not really up to doing the limbo just now.

Sunday, 20:25, 76 miles. I’m grateful for a level section on the Ribble Way, where it’s lovely to see swarms of swallows and sand martins skimming the water; not so lovely to find the path almost submerged under the swollen river in places; not so cheery either that I’ll soon be into my second night.

Monday, 2:01, 85 miles. By now I’m way behind schedule and it’s beginning to look like I might even miss the 48-hour deadline. Luckily, come the last 3 stages, the sweepers have caught up and I can follow them in - I’ve been alone for many miles and it’s hard to keep up the concentration needed to follow the complicated route description. It’s a relief to be free of the mental burden, switch off and and just follow my leader, (Philip Gwilliam, who will probably complete the course in around 22 hours when he does the main event at the end of the month). 

Monday, 8:39 - 100.6 miles. I reach the end with an hour and a half to spare. Amazingly, no blisters - just a few rubbed toes and one black nail.

This has been my slowest 100 ever by far but, though I am next to the last finisher, I’m happy to have completed at all under the conditions and have my sponsorship kitty safe. Of the 51 starters, 18 didn’t make it, though one was simply spooked by a field full of frisky cows at night and retreated to the previous checkpoint.

The performance of my Paramo waterproofs has been amazing. I never got wet and even the phone in my trouser pocket stayed dry. I wish they would make gloves!

Will this be my last 100? If I had any sense it should be …. but?

Monday, 10:00. Steve Osborne arrives to drive me home - many, many thanks, Steve - but I’m afraid I’m not much company for him on the journey.

Message from the organisers: Thank you to all who came to see us. We are sorry that the witch on Pendle was in a bad mood and she gave you a really hard time.

Pendle Hill Walk Photos

Newton Village Hall Photos

Foot Fetishism!