Run For All are a not-for-profit events organisation that was born out of the fundraising legacy of athlete Jane Tomlinson. They arrange marathons, 10k runs, walks etc. throughout the year, raising money for local and national charities.
The Dales Festival is a combination of five events - three walks and two trail runs. There are three routes; one is 26 miles long, one is 16 miles and the other is 5 miles. All three routes finish in Settle, and while the 5 and 26-mile routes also begin there, the 16-mile route starts at the Ribblehead Viaduct.
August the 21st 2022 was a busy day in the Yorkshire 4x4 Response calendar - we already had responders supporting Tribfest and the York Land Rover Show, but when Run For All requested support we were able to allocate three responders to help them out, despite the short notice.
We were directed to meet at the Station Inn, close to the Ribblehead Viaduct, at 7.45 for a briefing at 8 am. That meant an early start for all of us, and I set off at 6 am with a flask of hot coffee and a packed lunch - luckily the weather forecast was good, but it was still a little chilly at that time.
I arrived first at the meeting point, and made the mistake of pulling into the Station Inn carpark - I didn’t realise that it was also where camper vans set up for their night, so the last thing they need is any noise. I quietly backed out once I saw what I had done, though an angry woman in a dressing gown gave me a poisonous stare just to make sure I got the message!
I parked up by the bridge and busied myself applying my magnetic signs and amber beacon - because this event requires us to slow traffic to protect the participants, it’s best to make sure we’re as visible as possible. It wasn’t long before the other responders arrived, shortly followed by the event organisers.
They requested that we help to temporarily stop traffic while the runners crossed the road, and then do the same again for the walkers before following them down the first couple of miles of road - one to stay behind the backmarker, and one a bit further back to slow the traffic and give them some protection around the bends as there is no footpath on this part of the route.
We were happy to oblige and we divided the duties between us - I closed the road by the Station Inn as requested, and the few motorists who were briefly held up were very friendly and understanding.
We then closed the road again for the walkers, before re-opening once they were across and slowly following them down towards the Pennine Way where they would leave the public road. We left space for overtaking carefully, our role was just to make sure nobody approached the back of the pack at high speed, particularly on the corners.
By and large, the motorists were patient enough, but one or two decided to beep their horns and give a few choice words as they passed the Pennine Way turnoff - I’m not sure what they expected us to do differently, and we were there to keep people safe after all. There’s always someone who considers themselves to be more important than everyone else I guess.
Once the public roads were clear, two of us headed down to the next checkpoint to await any retirees - we only had one potential, who decided to continue. The other responder left to support the 26-mile walk around Malham Tarn.
Because the weather was decent without being too hot, we didn’t have many retirees and so once everyone had passed our checkpoint, and we’d helped the organisers to refill their water containers, we left to meet up on the 26-mile route where there were still active walkers.
Again it was fairly quiet, we had one or two walkers who needed a sit-down and a drink before continuing, and a couple of event organisers to transport around the course, but that was about it - better to be there and not needed though rather than the other way around.
I got a chance to take a few videos and photographs during the waiting around, some of which are included in this post and some will find their way into a future video hopefully.
Once the walkers had all been accounted for at the checkpoint, we helped them to take down the gazebo and tables and pack everything into their van before setting off for the finish line. At this point, we noted down our mileage for the event, and we each headed off home.
It wasn’t the busiest event for a 4x4 responder, but that generally means that everything is going alright so it’s a good thing. After all, we got to get out into some beautiful countryside in our vehicles, have a bit of lunch and enjoy the good weather, plus chat with our mates and some of the folks taking part in the events too.
If that sounds like your idea of fun, why not join Yorkshire 4x4 Response and volunteer with us? You don’t need a 4x4, there’s plenty you can help with that doesn’t require you to tow or go off-road.
In the next part of this series, I will share my experiences of the third monthly meeting I attended as a responder. Please subscribe to be updated on new posts as soon as they're published.