The Storm

Sometimes running is hard. Other times, it is exhilarating. A 14K lope into the Peak District was one such occasion and one that I won’t forget.

I was visiting my Grandparents who live on the edge of Chesterfield, a stone’s throw from the Peak District. I wanted to go for a long-ish run, so decided to run a little way with my uncle and sister and then carry on into the Peaks when they split off. The weather had been a bit erratic that afternoon, so we waited until a violent downpour had passed and then set off, hoping that the clouds had rained themselves out. It was not to be.

I was ascending into the purple heathers of Holy Moor out of Holymoorside when the rain started. And oh how it rained. Big fat droplets of rain hit the floor so hard that they danced right back off again. I was grateful for the plastic bag that my Granny had given to me to protect my phone, for the sky had transformed into nature’s version of a power shower (although without the pleasant temperature). It wasn’t long before I was soaked to the skin – it must have been tempting fate to complain about the mizzle a few runs ago, for this was nothing in comparison. I was also running uphill and, with over 10K still to go, my spirits were as damp as I was (which was dripping).

Then the sun came out and the landscape was transformed. As the rain cascaded down, the road turned into a ribbon of molten silver that flowed through an ocean of shocking violet heather. The long grass turned to gold with glints of vibrant green as the sun’s golden rays set fire to every colour in sight. Even the greyness of the clouds seemed to glow golden with hints of forget-me-not blue and rosy pink on the far horizon. In short: it was magical.

The rain hadn’t gotten any lighter. As I climbed the final raise, flocks of sheep regarded me with mild amusement as I sploshed past. My phone was counting off kilometres but I had stopped listening, living utterly in the moment as I continued putting one foot in front of the other. As I reached the crest of the hill, the rainstorm increased in intensity. Then I saw the rainbow, clearly defined, arching effortlessly across the sky, colours vivid against its grey backdrop.

I began to run downhill, now past the halfway point, letting gravity take over as I chased the waterfall of water down the road, dodging the rocks it tossed into my path. When the hail started, I wasn’t surprised. Thunder rumbled and crashed in the distance, bringing with it thrills of fear between flashes of lightning. I was laughing out loud to myself at this point, as the weather was so completely mad. Cars tentatively speeding past me in the downpour probably thought I was completely mad, both for venturing out in this weather and for the huge smile on my face. I didn’t care; I felt infinite.

As the kilometres fell away, the deluge started to subside, until I could hear my trainers squelching wetly as they splashed against the tarmac. And in the bright sunshine I saw a second rainbow hanging delicately above the first. At which point, the heavens opened once again. It was just hilarious. I had reached the outskirts of Holymoorside by the time the storm subsided again and I was running strong. I hammered up the other side of the valley, passing my uncle’s shiny black truck as I went (my sister and uncle had driven out, presumably to check that I hadn’t drowned). I meant to greet them but all that came out was an unintelligible whoop and a thumbs up. By the time I reached my Grandparents’ house, I was jubilant. It was the best run I had ever been on.

Although running is difficult and sometimes wearing on the soul, it never fails to surprise me and when it rewards you with moments like this, it makes it all worth it. This is why, ultimately, I love running. And would wholeheartedly encourage everyone to get out there, despite the weather, because you don’t know what glorious moments you might get in return.

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