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Kielder Dark Skies Marathon

Report by Matt Holt

Martin Whipp completed his first ever official marathon race last night at the Trail Outlaws Kielder Dark Skies event.

Starting at 5.30pm, runners enjoyed almost 2 hours of the course before having to wear headtorches to complete the 26.7 miles of track that goes around the entire shoreline of Kielder reservoir.

Martin, a keen astronomer, has been visiting Kielder regularly since 2001 as its almost zero light pollution make it one of the most popular places in the UK for observing the night skies. The race was therefore a perfect match as Martin was running the challenging course to raise money for the continuing development of Lime Tree Observatory in Grewelthorpe, where he is hoping to built a Planetarium over the next 2 years. Going in to last night’s event, Martin had raised a fantastic £1,100.

The first third of the race went well with, with Martin completing 9 miles in 1 hours 40 minutes, and on schedule for a 5 hour finish time. He continued run strong for The next 6 miles but then severe cramp started making the next three miles quite difficult. At 18 miles the cramp became so bad that Martin had to lay down on the forest track for a few minutes, but somehow managed to stand again and battle on.

With temperatures now dropping, it was now important to keep moving to ensure the cold didn’t effect his chances of finishing

Another severe bout of cramp again floored him at 22 miles, but again he got to his feet and ended by fast walking and running the last section for a well deserved finishers medal in 6 hours 25 minutes. I finished a minute later.

A really courageous run by Martin, with a finish that most runners wouldn’t have made given the cramping and dizziness he had to endure.