Derwent Dark Skies 10k, 1st June 2024

Luke O’Neill gives an account from the reservoir:

“Saturday night saw Laurie and myself head along to the very long winded ‘Trail Outlaws Derwent Dark Skies 10k – Finders Keepers, Losers Sweepers.’ I never feel particularly confident when it comes to a 10k race as it’s not a distance I run often, couple that with the unpredictable nature of trail runs I was very much of the mentality ‘enjoy the run, enjoy the view.’

Neither of us were convinced we would actually be running in the dark at any point and our backpacks consisting of head torch, whistle, waterproofs etc felt a bit overkill on such a warm summers night. Due to my exceptional navigating and Lauries insistence that we arrive in good time we had an hour to kill at race HQ (the company was good at least.)

We were called to the start position and given a very quick brief which roughly amounted to ‘follow the signs, enjoy’, we were also told that there were wrist bands hidden along the route and if you found one you could keep it and also claim a free buff at the end of the race. I spent some time taking note of the different assortment of runners milling about; trying to determine who I thought the front runners would be, never an easy judgement when it comes to the world of trail runners.

We were counted down from 5 and off we went, the first section being a rather steep hill to wake the legs, I also managed to snag a wristband on the ascent, Laurie said nothing but I so knew he was seething with jealousy (no buff for you Capitano). We found ourselves leading the pack for the first two miles which led around the beautiful Derwent reservoir lake, the sun was in a low position and the midges were out in force.

I was convinced that we would begin to get overtaken at some point. Just before mile 3, I decided that trying to stick with Laurie was optimistic and slowed to a more maintainable pace. Another few miles and Laurie was well off in the distance, I risked a glance back and there was no one to be seen, could I actually be on for a podium finish? Stay tuned.

Mile 5 loomed and so did a rather spectacular hill climb. In the car after, Laurie and myself confessed to sharing more than a few expletives in regards to the rather unnecessary hill climb so late in the race. Running up hills has never bothered me too much, I very much subscribe to the mentality of just plod up and make up the time on the descent and flat, seeing the silhouette of Laurie at the top as I was just beginning my climb was a much less welcome distraction.

I approached Mile 6 feeling confident that I had secured a second place finish only to hear what all runners dread in the dying closes of a race: the slap of feet behind me(as an aside every time I run a fell or trail race I get overtaken toward the end by a wily old veteran with legs like gnarled tree trunks) this was to be no different. My nemesis trotted past looking fresh as a daisy, I begrudgingly muttered a ‘go on mate’ whilst secretly thinking ‘I hope you fall down the last hill.’

The chase was on, 200 metres to go and I knew I had a sprint finish in me. However this is the land of trail running where distances are measured with an ‘ish’ on the end. I quickly realised it was at least more than half a mile to the finish, it ended up being closer to 7 miles in total when I finally crossed the line in a respectable yet annoying 3rd position. Laurie took home the gold with a very impressive 47 minute finish time.

We collected our trophies, medals and free buffs, before heading home with a stop off at McDonald’s, because as serious athletes we value nutrition.

1Laurie Johnson 47:29
3Luke O’Neill50:14
Laurie Johnson -