Sunday, 12 May 2019

The Spire Ultra

A new race for Runfurther and it was great. We were happy to help Jamie and Clare with their local race for charity. It's in the third year now and slowly gaining popularity. At 32 miles with about 4600ft climb it was very runnable- Not my forte, with no big hills to stomp up and some long disused railway lines towards the end which to me felt like torture. Brilliantly organised, marshalled and huge plate of chilli at the end.
It was to be a special race for me as it would ultra race 100. I have only counted races with results and only those over 30 miles. I now have a total of 5256 miles with the shortest being 30 miles and the longest being 200. It includes 11 races of over 100 miles and an average distance of 52.6 miles. All in the last decade (almost: started March 2009, completed May 2019).
By Friday I was stressing that I would not find the way etc. I was anxious about needing to slow down enough to read and act on all the instructions etc. I have only been to Chesterfield before, some time in the late 90s when they made it to an FA Cup final and festooned the town in blue and white. I had studied the text and map but was worried about needing to slow down enough to read and act on all the instructions and the time lost if I went off route.

Bob and I drove down after a morning of indoor climbing. The weather was foul through the Peaks and drains were struggling to cope with the water. By the time we got near Chesterfield it had improved and we went for a short walk on a loop of the course near Holymoorside. It was enough to persuade me that I would need shoes with some grip and also that the text route description seemed pretty good. Jamie had suggested that a dead end lane in Heath would be better than a night by the start so that was our next stop. Again we walked a short loop before we settled down to an evening in the van. I didn't sleep well and Jamie had not realised that the church bells chimed every hour through the night. At least it wasn't every 1/4 hour.

It didn't take long to move to the start in the morning and the weather looked so much better. The flags and banners were soon up and we could concentrate on registration and kit checks.
Photo Nick Ham - the Runfurther discussion table
For a small race with an entry of fewer than 70 Runfurther had brought a fair number.... Dick, Bob, Nick, Kevin, Sarah S, Sarah and Ian, Matt, Sam,Steve, Daryl, Debbie, Martin, Stephen and Tim.

After a briefing in the garden quad at the Resource Centre we were walked to the start.
Photo Nick Ham
I found myself closer to the front than I had intended and then realised some were relay runners and speedy guys like Kevin. Oops. I probably set off too fast but it was good to keep people who knew where they were going in sight and it was very runnable.
Photo Nick Ham
A lovely mixture of field paths, blue bell woods, trails and some short sections of tarmac to link it all. I was soon pretty warm but by 5 miles or so had settled into a more realistic pace. Some point around here Daryl caught me up and it was wonderful to have company for pace and the route finding. He used his garmin while I read the text and refered to the map every now and again. It didn't stop all our errors but one was over excitement at a nice down hill and the other me missing a sentence when two bridges were mentioned. Neither cost us 5 mins in total but it did ultimately cost him his sub 6 hour finish which is a shame. CP 2 had food so I grabbed a banana and some crisps.The course profile suggested that the biggest climbs were in the first 10 miles or so. I resolved to walk the steepest hills in the hope I would save some running for the flat bits later. Daryl was happy to agree. At this stage we were being very polite and both suggesting the other should run on alone if they felt capable. Politeness didn't last. Between CP3 and 4 my foot started hurting and Daryl had stomach pains. Politeness was traded for farting (what is it about eating and running) and swearing as we tried to keep up the pace but were hurting!

 The week's rain had made some of the descents in the woods rather muddy but mostly it was fine. and the instructions were mostly making sense. I grabbed more food at CP4 but cannot eat on the run at that speed.

Luckily I was carrying some MF jellies and could manage those. Ian caught us up and was flying- a true runner who was loving the flatter course. No chance of me beating him today. We noticed huge storm clouds lurking and soon after CP5 stopped to but jackets on for a few miles.The last 14 miles or so were flatter but they also included some long straight sections which were mentally tough and more hard surface under foot which was the last thing my foot needed. I must be the only person who rejoiced at the sign of mud. Actually mud was also our friend with stud marks often confirming that we were on the correct route- well either that or all those in front were also off route. I have quite good map memory and as CP6 came into view I knew what was left. It spurred me on. The CP itself was highlight of the day- strawberries, grapes and melon! I was now also shadowing a runner that knew the way and so keen to hang on or at least keep him in sight. Daryl and I drifted apart a bit. As we climbed to Heath and scene of our overnight stop I knew there was about 3 miles left and it would be possible with a little effort to get under 6 hours. I upped the pace over the field paths and then the Five Pits trail area into the woods. All was OK until we hit the old railway line. My heart sank. It should have been so runnable but was such an effort. I blocked all other thought and worked on keeping the guys ahead in sight.

It worked and I think I finished in 5hrs58. Daryl appeared only a few minutes later.

Phew I had done it and had a great day to complete my challenge. 100 race ultras done, a race win, a new women's record and a top day out. Thanks for the company Daryl and for pushing me when alone I would have gone slower.

After collapsing on the floor outside the hall I did a second finish to get a photo but we soon had to move inside as it got chilly.

 Sarah C was second woman and Debbie was back soon too. Bob had left me a special card and the front runners had already signed it.

We shared cake as others signed too. Bob had been very worried about the 9 hour limit. His time is usually mine plus 50%. Not today.

He was flying and finished in under 8 hours. It's the big hills that now slow him down and today's undulating course suited him well.
Knackered but what a good run!
We sat eating and chatting until all runners were back. Then it was taking down damp flags and banners before the long drive home and a celebratory beer.
The question now is "What next?" Another 100 ultras in the next decade? Aim for 50 over 100 miles?

Monday, 29 April 2019

The Fellsman

Race 4 in the Runfurther ultra series and the 57th running of the Fellsman. For me it would be my 7th time on the course. Pretty sure many of us will be asking at various points "Why have I signed up for this again?" and will then promptly forget the tough bits, decide we loved it and sign up again.
This years course was to be altered slightly as one landowner decided we must not cross even the southern boundary of Fleet Moss. It would involved several miles on tarmac, including a steep downhill, before the extra 300m+ climb back up to Middle Tongue CP. It can't be helped but it was not going to be popular with many and I wasn't looking forward to it.
Friday evening did not start well. After a morning of climbing we raced home for a quick shower, food and to grab our bags. The journey across was uneventful and the weather damp but not awful. Arriving before 4pm and with plenty of time to put up flags, banners etc before runners started to register Bob realised he had left vital clothing at home.
Thanks to all the Runfurther sponsors
I leapt out with all the Runfurther gear and he set off on the return drive home and back to Threshfield. At least it was a possible and not a totally insane drive. Once the flags were up I pottered about the very warm school drying out and helping to set up tables etc where I could. Nick sadly was having a worse evening. I didn't know it then as Threshfield has no mobile phone signal but he was suffering vertigo attacks severe enough to force him back to home. A real shame as he had hoped to complete a Grand Slam this year.

By 8pm all my jobs were done, I had registered and been kit checked and a meal had been cooked and eaten. I returned to the hall to find friends and to encourage people to collect their spit prizes from Mountain Fuel, Ultimate Direction, Injinji and Tent Meals. I had taken extra mint cake for runners and also the teams in the sweep mini buses. Before 10pm we were in bed and thinking of those sleeping on the sports hall floor - not the best preparation for a race in my experience.
Ooo Spot Prizes
The forecast was not great but despite the fad of naming storms and hyping them up a bit we were not due relentless heavy rain, nor gales, nor bitter cold. I had already opted for tights as I can't be bothered changing to longs at dusk grouping. I decided a heavy weight reliable waterproof was worth the extra 150g as I would likely have it on most of the time. I switched my shoes for some with just a little more grip but hoped some of the bogs would still be a bit drier than usual after weeks of little rain.
Typical- sunshine by Sunday lunch time
A bus to Ingleton at 6.15am meant an early start. Yep it was damp and a little cool but not freezing. The hall was hot as usual but the time passed quickly, especially once Julian and I decided to get together an 'oldies team' for the V50 team trophy. We needed 6 so Julian, me, Albert, Mark D, David T and John T were duly signed up. True I had to write several of these in myself... the perils of ageing and glasses.... but all promised to aim to complete.
There were 70 odd dns runners. I guess there will always be injury, illness etc but I am sure the forecast didn't help. It was dry as we were herded out onto the sports field and had our tally clipped in the first of many boxes. Shortly after 8.30am were were off - in at least 3 different directions as runners opted for their favourite lines out onto the road before Ingleborough. Knowing not to blast off too fast I soon settled into a comfortable pace and chatted with Julian. The lead runners were well out of sight as we clambered over the rocks and onto the summit plateau. It was a bit wild for the marshalls but we didn't hang around long enough to worry.  One peak down and just another 11 lumps to go.
I hate the rocky steps that are the usual descent. I always fear a slip on greasy rocks, a trip on the upstanding bits and the impatience of faster male descenders behind me. I spotted a runner dropping left to the grassy trod I had heard about and decided to try it. The ground was steep, the grass was wet and there were a few rocks but I did prefer it and for me it was faster. On on now and in search of David and Laura from Sportsunday photos. I never stop at the first CP  and was soon heading up Whernside where David and Laura were lying in wait with cameras.
Three Muskateers- Barney, Mike and Harry?
They earn their money on days like that. I know I am not super fast but I cannot help being competitive.
Heavy weight cag on all day but not really grim
Sabrina was likely to win the women's race I thought but I didn't really know who else would be up there. I did know I was 4th and I spotted Maria just ahead. Hmm, could I get 3rd? Early to be worrying about such things but I am sure it spurred me on up the rising grassy rake and then the summit ridge. It was now certainly raining and quite windy. The marshalls on the summit looked cold despite being huddled by the wall.
Jane and Adrienne on Whernside- Thanks
Once off the rocky bits and through the gates I love that downhill ridge . Just the right angle and nice grass. The out and back to the summit means you can see who is ahead and who is behind. I just spotted Sabs as I joined the ridge, she was already coming down. The temporary stile over the ridge wall gave a few runners a heart stopping moment as it shifted but the real shock was the head height barbed wire at the wall gap. I am short enough to run under it but one young man sat at the Kingsdale CP had not been so lucky. I grabbed a piece of flapjack and overtook some more runners by not hanging around. Well its true... 3 mins at every CP would add well over an hour to your time on this race. I slowed on the steep section of Gragareth but kept ahead of most in the big group behind me. Ros had suggested the CP and tents might be huddled by the wall but instead they were correctly positioned at the trig point.
Ros and others at Gragareth CP. That sky!
Again the out and back allowed me to check on the progress of others.  Despite the dry spring and despite it being a ridge with big drops on both sides the path to Great Coum was wet although I actually enjoyed running this section. Simon Ford was going well and Albert was still just a bit ahead. The drop to Flinters Gill started on pleasant grass but was soon the usual bog fest. Julian had reminded me that there is an alternative to some of the rocky bridleway that drops to Dent. I decided to try it and he is right. You still have to join the main path eventually but it is better. I also for the first time ever took the 'short cut' that drops you onto the camping field and the CP. Phew almost 1/3 completed in miles at least.
Winner Stuart Walker at Dent
A big group of us swarmed around the food tent shouting our requests of warm cheese and onion rolls, tea and more. The melon was lovely. I tried not to loiter and set off on the lane eating and drinking. Gary caught me up here and although I then didn't see him for a while we were later grouped together. For now I concentrated on chasing down two blokes running in shorts - not some wierd fettish, just me hoping to pick off the next runners. They stopped to put on over trousers as the next blast of hail and rain went through. As the bridleway climbed over the end of Whernside I was aware of two first timers hoping to gain a reasonable line by sticking with me.  That's fine. Simon F was just ahead battling along with his poles. I maintained but could not close the gap on him. Still another CP ticked off and 25 miles done. The felled section of forest added a few obstacles to duck under and climb over, plus the forestry vehicles have almost destroyed the boardwalk section. The beck off to the right was full to bursting and the path very wet. The turkey may have gone but the the farm has a very impressive group of cockerels and some rather fierce geese.I made it through unscathed and jogged down the road to the Stonehouse CP.  It's nice knowing what to expect at CPs and I quite like the pasta. That plus a cup of tea. I topped up my water bottle but had not really used much in the cold damp weather. Albert had left shortly after I arrived so I set off with a piece of cake in each hand. You can never have too much cake and this one had cherries in it. I had hoped Sportsunday might be on Artengill Beck but not this year. A shame as I had not carried my phone or camera in the rain and as we flogged up under the viaduct and beautiful steam train went across. The rain had stopped for a bit now although apparently down in Stonehouse a gale nearly took the tent away. Great Knoutberry is another little dink out and back so yes another chance to see who is around. Barney, Mile and friend came steaming down the hillside with Mike moaning that he was knackered. There was lots of congratulations from both the climbers and descenders. I could see Albert and caught him at the CP. He didn't appear to be loving the day and I felt a bit bad running off back to the track and on towards Redshaw. Almost at the track I met a huge group on their way up and there were two women. Oh bugger, I need to run harder.
Redshaw
Somewhere around here you pass the half way mark and bouyed on my the thought of soup and hotdogs the boggy land doesn't seem so bad. At least its either flat or downhill for a bit. Two years ago I marshalled at Redshaw but today I quickly grabbed soup and the hot dog before setting off with the remains of the soup and a banana.  Not stopping and being on my own saved another 3-5 minutes. The 3 young men made the difficult decision to split here. Mike was wasted and could no longer keep up. My novice Fellsman runners were asking me about the next section- you almost swim after Redshaw on the way to Snaizeholme and I think they feared there might be miles of it. I was able to reassure them that it would soon improve and in fact was a big track to below Dodd Fell. Barney and mate came charging past and disappeared into the distance. The CP on the summit was easy to spot but in my haste to head off to the Fleet Moss CP I made a nav error, missed the wall gap and went the long way round. Sadly I took Albert and Mike with me. Somewhere here I also went over on my ankle and it got progressively stiffer as the evening wore on. I contemplated the direct line with the wall climb that Oz showed me but decided to stay legal.  There was a new fence along the road to the CP but luckily there was a safe place to climb over. It was now tipping it down with rain but almost 38 miles were done. It was cold in the draughty tent so I downed two cups of tea and rice pudd, dragged on my over trousers and set off on the dreaded road.
I had lost time on my Dodd Fell detour allowing runners to catch me and then to see the next group as I ran down past the chevrons. The only thing to do was make the most of the tarmac and cover as many miles as fast as I could.
That b***** road
The 'shorts and over trousers' men had caught me and I now used them to drag me along. Luckily the rain stopped or lessened off and I was able to vent my sweaty layers. They were not enjoying the road either and I was closing in. I thought back to my birthday treat on the Dales Way a few years ago and how roasting this valley had been then.  I made good time and at Deepdale bridge was pleased to gain the grassy field paths to Yockenthwaite. I could see Simon plus poles up ahead and this encouraged me. He was also a good marker as we flogged up the track, path and trod to Middle Tongue. It went on a bit but at least the nav was straight forward.  The 'shorts' men had stopped and the guy ahead of me seemed to loiter at the CP. Ah yes, he didn't know the way and the next section is peat hags, bog and not much in the way of a path. I was happy to lead us to just below the kink in the wall where you can climb the fence and then contour to the next wall and a better path. He was very grateful. The guy at Hells Gap was huddled in his Land Rover and the whole think was rocking in the wind. Not a place to loiter. Off we sped down the nasty track to Cray. I used the verges when I could to save my feet but was relieved to reach the tent. I knew we would be grouped here and wanted to make sure I was set up for the dark and well fed. Eating was an effort and I was gagging on the last mouthfuls. I put my prism on knowing it could be cold now and especially if the rain returned. For the moment we were treated to a beautiful rainbow.
It wasn't all rain
The tent was pretty full but 3 soon shuffled off the the Body Bus and retired their way back to Threshfield. I have done the route 6 times and should know the way but was keen to be in a group with at least one other person who could navigate and also who would be good company. Barlick Gary fitted the bill. We ended up as a group of 7 which is the biggest I have ever had but in fact it worked well. We were fairly well matched and all had good and not so good moments. Gary showed me at least one line I had not done before and with our joint nav or me confirming what he thought we did well. The climb up Buckden Pike was stiff but the weather seemed to be improving and the sun was not yet setting. I like the ridge run and we managed to bogs after the Cross OK. I was pleased that we all agreed to keep torches off for as long as possible. We needed them as we approached Top Mere but it helped prevent the group of 4 behind catching us. Only one big lump left now and the miles were ticking by.  The run to Park Rash was uneventful and we were moving quite well but the run had depleted my reserves and by now I was struggling to eat solids. I would have killed for chocolate milk or custard but hey ho. I managed a MF jelly and some mint cake but struggled on the steepest section of Great Whernside. Luckily at the stile to the rising traverse the easing gradient let me recover and feel better again. We were soon able to see the beacon and then the little CP tent. Only 10 miles left now and now real climbs at all. The rain had gone. I knew the way along the fence, down with the fence as a handrail and all the way to the gate but I could not in my head picture the bit to Capplestone Gate. The group continued to work well with a fair bit of jogging and power walking when we couldn't do more. The deepest bogs were not as bad as they can be. The guys sent me ahead each time although as I weighed less it was no guarantee of solidity and if I sunk in I would disappear fastest.  No worries and we were soon past the CP and on the track and grassy paths. We made a slight detour into a wall corner but it only cost 10metres. The beacons across the more open grass kept us to the right path easily and soon the walled lane was there. I knew Yarnbury was close and I almost got second wind. We de grouped here. I thought I might grind to a halt but as two sped off I thanked Gary, agreed we could easily get back in under 16 hours and tucked in trying hard down the lane. My head torch was getting very dim but it was a blessing as I couldn't really see the lane stretching off into the distance. Grassington passed very quickly and it was downhill all the way to the river. I checked my watch- over 15 mins left to get up to the school. I jogged most of it and was pretty pleased with 15 hrs 47. I dreaded to think how fast Sabrina had been and what it would do to my Runfurther points but I had done my best and was 3rd Woman. Gary was over joyed at a 50 min PB. He had been good company.
We sat in the hallway a while just recovering before people drifted off for showers, the sports hall floor, a shuttle to a van in the car park or in my case a stagger to the kitchen for tea and then our van.
It was a shame to find Bob already in bed. It hadn't been his day. Little Stu Walker was 1st in a brilliant 11hrs 18 and then Rory in 11.27. David Chetta was 4th in 12.03, Phil W in 12.21, Simon Bourne 10th in 12.53 and first V60. Sabs was 7th in 12.23 awesome.

A good nights sleep and a Fellsman breakfast set us up for the prize giving where we managed the Vets Team Prize. Old but not Dead Yet.... Julian, Karen, Albert, John, Mark and David. Fab. My ankle seems to have lost its bone and gained a rather impressive swelling.

 I think I just ignored it during the race but walking on Sunday was dodgy as it stiffened up. Climbing on it today wasn't great but hopefully it will mend fast. None of the photos are mine so thanks to Sportsunday and Fellsman facebook. The big question is can I manage the next 3 Fellsman so that my 10th coincides with their 60th and my 60th birthday?

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Calderdale Hike

3rd race in the Runfurther series this year and the 41st Hike for the organisers.After the birthday special last year the Hike has now reverted to its traditional 3 year cycle. for 2019 this meant a route similar to the last cycle but in reverse and with a few relatively minor changes. For veterans this was a huge advantage as we knew many of the paths and what we consider to be optimum routes. Could we find our way without running backwards to check the views? Would the minor variations and changes to a  couple of CPs lead to any new lines being run?
Flags and banners up, Mountain Fuel hidden by people
Interestingly the Hike had 78 runners on the long course and well over 30 were Runfurther members- they need our support, although there were some others on Long Walk and Short run and walk. It of course also meant that I knew loads of people today. Some were local like Elise and the Scarfes but others had travelled some distance. For Alwyn it was his first visit to the area and he was mighty relieved to find it should be the same route for the next two years so he could put his new knowledge to good use and improve on his time. He was not alone in this.
Bob waiting for the Long Walk start
The forecast was good and we have had barely any significant rain so the ground would be as a dry as it is ever going to get over the whole area.
The forecast might be good as in dry but it was a very frosty start when we moved the van at 5.30am and started putting up flags and banners. Even by 7am when the long walkers set off it was very chilly. The sun was up before our 9am start but once exposed to the biting easterly wind it was cold.
Will miss the super organised ladies next year
The crazy early start meant I had masses of time to chat with friends, hand out spot prizes, catch up with people due 'rewards' from last years races and discuss the best route options for several sections of the course. We all have our favourites and stick to some of these regardless. I always opt to climb from Coolam and go via the turbines as I dislike the steep tarmac of the drop to the NE. The run along the canal is possibly slightly quicker but for me it is less inspiring.
Runners debating route choices
I knew to start slowly as this had worked well for me in LM42. Fortunately the gradual road and track climb to Nab End made this easy and I was happy to let Ian C and Ed G go. Sabrina was off chasing the lead men- Rory, Kevin and David but struggled to hold onto their pace. She had never been to the area and was trying to navigate using the 'suggested route' on a rather fuzzy print out and not an ideal scale. From Nab End I suddenly changed my mind. I didn't revert to the old climb as the sunken lane is not nice but neither did I do the lanes I had receed down to Mytholmroyd. I opted for a middle way and once down at the Mill with Ice Cream vans in Cragg Vale I started to climb Hoo Hole. I knew Ian had followed me but when I glanced round I found so had about 9 others. I hoped I could remember the way. It worked and part way up we dinked right to Daisy Bank and then the contouring track to London Road. It was the correct choice as approaching Errington Grange we spotted Sabrina and a small group still climbing from the valley floor. I knew I couldn't keep up so tried my best to give instructions.
Don't need to climb up there today
It was nice to look up to Stoodley Pike but not have to climb the moor and even nice to look across to Heptonstall but know we wouldn't drop to Hebden for the monster climb. I caught Sabs again at Lumbutts church and was able to guide he through the slightly confusing paths before the drop to the valley. Even there I was close enough to shout instructions at the car wash and then again as we climbing to the church and you appear to go through private garden and up some not very obvious steps.  Here I passed my name sake doing the Long Walk (yep another Karen Nash also born on 29.5.1961! what are the chances?)Then inevitably Sabs pulled away but was still in sight. By now the same runners were around me- sometimes ahead and sometimes behind. I was lucky to know the way and to the bemusement of at least 4 men kept ending up ahead of them.
It's dry!
The path below Bridestones was as dry as it is ever going to be and it was a joy to run along the worn flagstones and along to the Mount Cross CP.
No mud this year
One way I seem to gain minutes here and there is barely stopping at CPs so a group of us set off racing down the tarmac to Cornholme. I used my local knowledge and switched to the footpaths but there was nothing in it. Climbing up Flower Scar was a different matter though. The suggested route avoided the mountain bike woods but went across the fellside to the old chimney. Ed and I knew to stick to the lane for as long as possible. I could see Sabs flogging up through tussocks and a group of 5 men that had been ahead of me. I beat them all to the road side CP of Horden Stoops. Sadly they then showed their better fitness and ran off on the track heading for Trough End.

I had been taking my mind off the growing pain in my foot by doing maths. If I run twice as fast as Bob but he has a two hour head start when and where would I overtake him? I guessed around 4 hours in and I was spot on 4hrs 4 mins just before the trig point. Climbing up the Bridestones Moor had got me warm and I had shed layers but now I was freezing. I shot off down to Coolam wondering if the CP would be in the published place this year. It was and Linden greeted me cheerfully. From here there is a big route choice and I learned that about 1/3 had opted for NE and then the canal. Ah well, not me despite the cold up here.
The track is now very runable, no mud
I chased Ian up to the turbines. I was concerned to see Simon head off towards Littleborough but he was too far away to shout in the fierce wind. Despite the gradual climb I reeled in a few runners and we arrived at Turbine 9 together.
Nice soft ground
The cairn was missing but I knew the trods and was soon dropping to Sladen Fold. Ian confessed here that he had set off too fast and was now struggling. The suggested route from the canal is confusing so I stuck to the 'reverse' of what I knew from the White House. I was not surprised to see faster runners dotted around in surrounding fields. 'Cap man' was one and we played leap from from here all the way to the end. 'Headband man' was another and he opted to use my knowledge to climb to the CP. It was very cold here and the marshalls were offering hot tea. I peered into the tent to see another runner who had over cooked the start and was now struggling. Ah well. Most runners seemed to go up and over Blackstone Edge, which might not have been so bad since it was so dry. I stuck to the wide grassy path by the goyt and nipped over the end of the ridge to join the main path. Again I gained some time and places. Windy Hill was aptly named today and not a place to loiter. I don't like running along the main road and across the motorway slip roads but even with dry ground it proved faster and I overtook Cap man again. It didn't last long and he soon shot off along the track and up onto the ridge leading to Pike End. I ate my marmite sandwiches on this section and although it slowed me a little it was worth the energy I gained. I passed Dick on his Short run and also lots of walkers.  The ridge was longer than I remembered but I found the path by the cottage and was soon heading for the CP by the dam. After this the next CP was very close, just before we met the main Ripponden Road. I saved headband man from another error.

The next section along the valley was quite nice but the climb then up to the final CP at the Moorcok Inn by Norden Moor was a struggle.I opted for the road which was 'easy' and would have been OK if I had the energy to run it all. Sabs went by the fields and said it was awful. I had forgotten my garmin but was asking runners how many miles we had done. By Ripponden I knew sub 7 hours was possible. From the pub it was a steep drop to the mills and then what seemed like a monster climb up steps and a steep slope all the way to the cricket ground. I scraped in at 6 hours 57. I was pleased with that despite the amount I had walked. Sabs was first woman in 6 hours 24 and would have been much faster if she had known the best routes. I am pleased she is hoping to do four Runfurther races and we will have a young fast woman winner this year.
Not warm enough for this today (pic from last year)
Rory had won in I think 5hours 9 mins and Kevin was about 10 mins behind this and then David.  Nick arrived just over an hour after me and was very pleased with his run.
It's a lovely venue to socialise in after your run and I spent a long time eating and drinking before our meeting and then taking all the flags and banners down. The spot prizes from our sponsors went down a treat with lots of happy winners so thank you Mountain Fuel, Tent Meals, Injinji, Ultimate Direction and Romneys.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

It all turned out well in the end

We drove up to the Lakes on Friday after a few hours of indoor climbing. First stop was Keswick to collect box loads of Mountain Fuel from our fab sponsor Rupert Bonnington. Sunbathing with a coffee on the common above Askham completed the afternoon.

 By 6 we were down in the car park and putting up flags and banners. The display boards were up and spot prizes from all our sponsors laid out along with free mint cake from Romneys. Registration opened early so that job was ticked off too.

After pasta in the van it was back inside to socialise with other runners and volunteers. Great to see Matt Neale and Hisayo both wearing their Northern Traverse hoodies, as I was. Nick eventually arrived after a long boring delay on the M6 due to a lorry fire.
My self doubt grew and grew overnight. I knew I had not really run much due to our NZ travels and also our ski trip. I was praying that time on my feet would count for something and that the first 52 miles of my NZ dnf race would help. Running for 3 hours on Thursday was probably not the best idea in retrospect and I had a sore toe.

 By the time I went into the hall as the sun was rising I seriously doubted my chances of a respectable time and was resigned to battling it out to finish. At least the forecast was good, there would be good company and it is a fantastic route.
Well before the 6 am start I moved outside to see how warm it was. Decided to start in cag and gloves but as I suspected they were not needed for long.
Josie at the start
I tried to go slowly at the start; not easy as people sprint up the lane, through the village and out onto the moor. Past experience has shown me that if I go to fast I will be walking by the cattle grid. It helped having Richard Lendon, Carmine and others to chat with. Richard I haven't seen for year and Carmine was having a training run for the Dragons Back.

Across the common and heading for Loadpot Hill I was still feeling like I was rubbish but the views were at least now letting me enjoy myself. It is always interesting when the field splits and runners take their preferred lines. I saw Josie. Tony etc head off towards the trees but soon enough we were back together again.
Alwyn crossing the common in the early light
I am not sure that there is much in it. The sun was coming up, the mist and low cloud was atmospheric and I was going at a pace where I could chat. I was pleased to be with Josie, Tony and others. It gave me the mental boost that I needed. Matt Neale was also close by so the company was excellent.

From Loadpot Hill the grassy running is a joy. There was one dodgy moment where I almost followed a group heading off south, god knows to where. I shouted them back and I think we all made it to High Street.
Oh heck, we go over those next
Joe had wired the self clip to the trig this year after the theft of two years ago. This CP has a little out and back which I quite like as you get a chance to see the front runners and then also those who are just behind you.
Josie and Albert (photo from Toney Donnelly)
The next section is straight forward and I know it well. A few little lumps and rocky bits but mostly a good path. Barney was running with a friend who was new to ultras but a fast runner. We stuck together over the next section and I showed him the lovely grassy short cut after the Knott which not only cuts the corner but saves your feet from the gnarly track.

Back in geography teacher mode I explained what an isthmus was- the next self clip was by Angle Tarn on that feature. Then it was off to Side Farm and greeting the first of the day's walkers coming the other way. We joked about refusing to look up at Place Fell as we neared Boredale Hause; it would be the last beast of a climb later that day.

The path down was being repaired making it even worse than usual but I arrived at the CP unscathed. I topped up water but forgot to pop inside for any food. Nevermind, I has some bars and some Mountain Fuel jelllies in my sack.
Steep slopes everywhere- its a tough route
My foot was sore from the descent and I expected to hobble a bit towards Patterdale. I must be getting better at ignoring it because I made good time and could soon see Matt just ahead. I used him to pull me along and up the Grizedale path.
Sometime around now I must have decided I was racing after all as I stopped taking photos. It was also damping us from the low cloud. Then Tony appeared and we climbed together debating which route to take from the tarn. Spotting the tarn itself was not easy in the low cloud but we both wanted to cut across and avoid the rocky path down the beck. We climbed a bit more than ideal to avoid boggy ground but on the whole got a good line all the way to the bridge before Wythburn. Hearing the cars on the main road was our aid to navigation - no map and compass today. I spotted Michelle ahead and wondered if I could catch her. (I did and was ahead for all the next miles until we were heading back over Askham Common. She beat me by 2 mins in the end)
Wythburn had good food as well as water. I tipped in magic powder and grabbed loads of cheese, crisps and dark chocolate to fuel me up the monster climb to Helvellyn. It goes on a bit this climb and I needed a jelly too. I stuck to the tourist path as I think it is easier and just as fast as the OCT line.
Helvellyn (Toney Donnelly)
Nearing the top it was back into the gloom of low cloud and it was cold enough to put my gloves back on. The path was busy and so was the route to Little man and onward.I was pleased to get off the high top and to be running and climbing to the last self clip before the descent to Glenridding.
Whiteside (Toney Donnelly)
The big zig zag path is OK but the grassy direct line better and kinder to sore feet. Then there was the decision of straight down the road or the field path and track to the campsite. The road may be quicker but I wanted to save my feet. Catching runners at Side Farm we decided there was nothing in it. Here I got a big surprise as Martin T appeared. He is usually some way in front of me but had got disorientated in the gloom at Grizedale Tarn and done a bit extra plus wasted time sorting it out. He didn't hang around long and was soon powering up the path to Boredale Hause.
Up and up and up some more. Last big climb
Refuelled by more real food and a jelly I felt reasonably good here and was pleased to be ahead of Michelle and just ahead of Matt. I paid for it later though. Clambering up the rocks to Place Fell trig I got pain under my ribs and started to panic that the hernia/diaphragm issue was about to happen. I took some time and it went away. Meanwhile Michelle was off and running. We were on the home straight now and I even started to look at my watch and work out possible times. From Martindale it should be all runnable and I did try my best. Michelle opted for the high route which we now know is slower but she caught me again as we climbed to the common. Matt also caught me and the two of them had kept more in reserve. I was pleased to run all the way from the last path junction, down to the cattle grid and down into the village. I was chuffed to get 9hrs 28 (4th woman and 2nd Vet W) which is only 10 minutes slower than my PB from two years ago. I had anticipated a slow slog and perhaps 10hrs 30 at best. So 2019 running is now going better and I am feeling more positive.
Post race recovery at Nav4 events is wonderful. A choice of 3 homemade soups, real bread, huge slabs of cake and as many gallons of tea as you can drink. It was cosy in the hall so I didn't even bother going to wash or change.Instead I spent the early evening chatting and welcoming back the next 40 or so runners and signing up new and returning Runfurther members.