What is the West Pennines Double Marathon?
Quite simply, 2 marathons! One on the Sat and one on the Sun. Well, I use the term marathon loosely.. Day one is closer to 28 and day 2 is about 27.3 miles!
Each route is different, but both start and end in Sunnyhurst Woods. Each route is part marked and has fuel stations loaded with lots of foods, water and energy drinks!
When you get back to the finish line each day we have some nice hot food laid on.. Plus, there is a bar open too!
I was searching for something that would be good training for a summer ultra and this Howler event fit my race calendar perfectly... I've now done it twice (2017 & 18 - loved it so much I came back and entered other events in the series too) - it's worth noting that parts of the Double Marathon courses came in really handy as route recces for Howler Events' 3 Towers Ultra (October) and the Howling Trail Chase (November).
The West Pennines Double Marathon is an amazing weekend with a fantastic community feeling to it - the event has a very friendly and personal level of attention from all the event team, marshalls and volunteers. These challenges can often be quite daunting, but the welcoming and friendly atmosphere quickly ease any nerves with the emphasis on getting round and enjoying the trails. Two beautiful (and different) routes on each day (with no repetitive laps!), with 3 well-stocked checkpoints (water, coke, redbull, sweets, biscuits, crisps, peanuts, bananas and vegan options too etc) distributed evenly throughout, over a variety of terrain. The courses comprise of a lot of dirt track/paths with very little tarmac/roads, and a good portion of trickier moorland bogs with knee-high grass tufts and knee-deep mud in places - wet weather leading up to March adding water and mud to the toughness of the terrain but nothing my trusty Speedcross couldn't handle.
The routes were well marked but you can find yourself spread throughout the field with nobody to follow or aid with nav at times, so careful navigation can be required over some of the more cross-country routes where paths or trods aren't as obvious. Gpx files are provided and helped aid navigation on my watch (or others used smartphones with success) and Howler events offer organised recce runs throughout the year. The marathons this year actually came in at 28 and 30.5 miles so you definitely get value for money in that respect - also worth noting that the route has changed each year - which also adds to the uniqueness of the event - I've loved exploring new trails each time.
No doubt about it, the double marathon is a tough challenge, but that's where the reward lies - the sense of achievement is great, and the stunning views, the adventure, the fun and camerarderie of it all make it well worth the effort. Hot food and post-race massage (optional donation to Bolton Mountain Rescue) on both days together with a stunning medal and tech t-shirt seem worth the entry alone - not to mention the work that goes into creating, marking, marshalling and covering safety on the routes for both days.
If you enjoy adventures in the hills, this one is a must.
Posted on 13.03.18
This event is described as tough, and it is!
I knew / know a lot of the route but was grateful I had my watch GPS and OS maps [which is recommended you have] as despite it being marked route it is easy to go off course / get lost due to the landscape and weather conditions
The route itself is beautiful, but at the same time tough and unforgiving.
In my opinion it's one for the more experienced trail and fell runner, with nav skills. I was lucky as a novice runner to not get lost, or to get pulled from the event due to cutoff
Great event series, nice bling. Not one for the feint hearted!
The staff at the kiosk, marshalls, Bolton Mountain Rescue, etc are all brilliant!
Posted on 12.03.18