Duergar Run 2020
Bright blue skies filled the air as hundreds of runners came to register for the 3rd Duergur Run. Set in late February it’s an opportunity to test early season fitness and get some practice at night running in a winter setting. The previous two years were held at Tomlinsons Cafe where the bridge crosses the Coquet but this has since been turned into residential properties so a new home had to be found. Jackie Sewell’s bright and bubbly presence was always a joy! For 2020 the event ups sticks and moves camp to the Newcastle Hotel around the corner. For seasoned fell runners you’ll know this as the base for the Simonside Cairns fell race organised by Paul Appleby. For most however it was a brand new experience.
The throng of runners managed to pass through registration before assembling in the car park over the river. Drew hammered home some important safety messages but it was hard to hear over the nervous chatter and the now howling wind. 6pm comes around and the runners are off. The half light of a setting sun combined with street lights meant that most runners set off without a head torch switched on and made it most of the way towards Whitton Farm before pressing the button.
The marshals had set out to reach positions at around 5pm and the wind had picked up noticeably on the tops. This was soon followed by a fluttering of snow and hail that would set the tune for the rest of the night. Runners ploughed up the track from Whittondean all the way to Lordenshaws car park where refreshments could be found. A high powered wind was head on and carried hail and snow into the faces of the runners to make sure they got an absolute battering on the outbound leg. It was a mightily impressive sight to see the snaking line of lights head up towards Dove Crag, fading intermittently as another flurry of snow blocked the light.
Soon enough the lead runners had made the first ascent and proceeded along the tops to Old Stell Crag and on to Simonside itself. In the daylight these are vantage points of some repute, soaking in the far off Cheviots. At night there is a dazzling 360 panoramic view with the coastline, Newcastle and Northumbrian towns twinkling in the distance. Tonight on the other hand it was a raging blizzard with storm Jorge doing it’s best to knock people on their backsides. Dropping off the steps on the far end many runners took the prudent step of slowing to a walk rather than risk an accident.
Due to the bad weather we altered the course to avoid going through the trees when there is a risk of trees falling. Instead the bad weather course kissed the top of the forest before tacking upwards through Joe’s Wood and back up a muddy path to the ridge line at Dove Crag. Many people noted the ethereal quality of this section when you could see lights going along above you. A truly special sight.
The weather decided to really up its game and hit a climax as the back end of the run came about. The snow started to settle and soon enough there was a few inches sitting the road and all the surrounding high ground. We managed to get most marshals away in a safe fashion but the road proved too much for a few. The track back down to Rothbury became a slide fest as the snow delightfully covered up the slick mud covered trails. As a result more than one person ended up sledging, only without the sledge.
We hope you all enjoyed the inclement conditions and liked the mulled wine at the finish. The Hotel was feeling overrun but managed heroically to deal with such a massive influx. We have a few things to learn to make the event even better in 2021. A massive thanks to all those who came along and a big high five to all the volunteers who made the event possible and mountain rescue. Given that the route had to be shortened there might be a chance that those missed miles get added on next time. Could we be so evil? This run will be part of a very exciting series in 2021, more of that another time though. See you all next year!