Sunday, 24 February 2013

No 13 The Fylde coast

At the start of the week I was determined I would run today too. By yesterday I had my doubts and decided not to. As I lay in bed drinking coffee and reading the sun shone brightly and taunted me.  I modified my plan to maybe... if I can get my work done and it is still sunny by late morning I will go.
I guess I was looking for a very local and flat / easy route. Nothing else explains why I thought today  would be a good idea.

By the time I had jogged the length of The Green at Lythan, with just a brief stop to catch my breath and admire the windmill, I was tired. Perhaps because it was flat and there were so many people around I was trying too hard? So I plodded on a little more slowly. It was at least still sunny and I was running on grass. I had to put up with a short stretch on tarmac at Fairhaven but not for long.
 The next bit went well and I sailed through St Annes and past the pier with a quick glance along the road to the first flat I ever rented when I started work. I couldn't face the up down total work out that the huge loose sand dunes would give me but did stick to the mostly grassy paths at their foot. I knew from past experience not to look up as Star Gate never seems to get any closer. I consoled myself that I was moving faster than the traffic which seemed to be stuck and despite suffering I looked in better shape than the derelict Pontins.
Still smiling- sort of at this stage
In Blackpool I ran some on the sand and then some on the prom. The sand never feels as soft as I expect and some bits were wet enough for me to give up. It seemed to take an age to get to the Tower. Time for some food and a cup of tea - once I had picked somewhere that looked reasonably hygienic.
The food didn't help and I found the whole of the next stretch a real toil. It was slightly into the wind and I was getting cold. The only good was finding some soft surfaces to run on as I left the town centre behind. By now I was counting the miles on my Garmin- first time I had been reduced to this. I wasn't really enjoying myself.  I tried more food but that just made running seem even harder. It was a relief to pass Norbreck Castle and eventually hit 13.5 miles. Yes- I could turn round. This time the Tower did not just seem to take for ever, it really did!
 Once past this landmark I cheered up a little and managed to get to Star Gate in better time. I decided I needed to be away from buildings, people and traffic so ran back along the beach just aiming relentlessly for St Annes Pier. It was more pleasant but hard work. The weather by now had changed. It wasn't just cold , there were spots of drizzle and the clouds looked ominous. Not what I needed at all. After St Annes I made for the tarmac hoping to pick up the pace a bit and get closer to home in case the weather really broke.
My feet protested and it was great to get to Granny's bay and grass. The end was now in sight, which was just as well because I was trashed.
 I shuffled my way along the Green past the windmill, behind the old Land Registry and then back to the car. 27.5 miles and I was not doing a step further.  So, I have learned.... stick to the plan and do not be greedy and squeeze an extra run in, work may not seem appealing but you should stay and do it, my body is not invincible and knows when it has had enough.  And don't be cocky when a friend asks 'how is the body is doing?' Rowena - you were right to be concerned.
My head though was good (? or stupid?) and refused to give in - pointing out that the first 13 miles would have been a waste if I did not keep going. Oh- and set off at 10 not 12 at this time of year.                                                                                                     As Bob has just pointed out, it was No 13, so perhaps it would have been bad whenever and where ever I had run.

No 12 Sandstone Way

Again- not all of it, but enough to get me an ultra from when I was dropped off in Frodsham. I had to be back in Delamere to find the vehicle and have time to recover before night orienteering. Bob came to go mountain biking and would think about the night O. I had found a free guide and maps on the internet and picked what seemed to be the most interesting bit starting at Middle Walk. This meant I was straight into the woods with no tarmac. I did make a quick stop for a photo and to admire the view at the war memorial.

 It was an interesting woodland with lots of undulations and outcrops of sandstone cliff. I had a great view over the Mersey and out to sea as I climbed and ran along the edge. I could almost see Crosby and the end of my Sefton run. It seemed well signed and I had no need for the map or guide- yet.

As I ran through Manley the owner of the B+B was setting up tables and chairs with an advert of soup! I hoped I would find something similar in a few hours time. I arrived in Delamere in no time and soon recognised where I was. I kept a look out for Bob, but our paths did not quite coincide, and took note of the car park for tonight adventure. The walkers thinned out a bit after Old Pale and suddenly I was crossing the A54 and admiring horses on the gallops.

As I shot down a lovely sandy path I missed the sign off to the right at the bottom and so did an extra loop around Primrose Hill Wood. It didn't matter and I knew I was still heading mainly south. With just a little help from the OS map, which Andy Splatcher had wisely told me to take, I used some local footpaths and joined back up with the Sandstone Way.

 After the A51 I had a short break admiring some hedge laying and then it was into the muddy fields. Actually they were not bad at all - mainly sticky rather than wet and only once just before Crib Lane did I nearly get wet feet. By now I could see Beeston Castle which looked superb perched up high on the cliff edge. It was an easy run across the canal and railway line to arrive at the Castle entrance. It was pay to enter and the cafe was closed so I kept running towards Peckforton where a quick check of my garmin told me it was time to about turn.

From here back to Fishers Green the weather deteriorated with dark clouds and flurries of snow. Still, that was better than rain and I did not even stop to put my cag on. The trail markers were numerous and very visable so I am not sure how I missed one but suddenly I got that odd feeling of ' I should have seen another one by now...'  Oh well, nevermind just head northish and keep moving. This by great luck brought me out within metres of where I had exited Primrose Hill Wood earlier. It meant I retraced my steps 'off-route' but in certainty of where I was heading. I even spotted the sign post that I had missed in the morning. The gallops were now deserted and the car parks were starting to empty. I debated an ascent of Old Pale but decided against it as the weather was showing no signs of improvement and the views would probably not have been at their best. Having seen the photos from the top I will make sure I go up next time.
                                                                                                        The run through the woods and down the big track back into Delamere was a delight and I made good time. That just left the final mile on easy tracks back to the cafe and visitor centre. It all looked familiar and then I realised why- Chris, our youngest, won his first ever British Schools Orienteering event there as a slightly underage Yr5.  I found Bob and the car with no trouble and the cafe was still open!!! Lots of tea and some real food to recharge the batteries. I did at this point miss our van. The time would have passed more quickly cuddled up with a pot of coffee and a book on the bed and with the diesel heater chugging comfortingly.  A really enjoyable day and another 28 (27.8) miles done.  The night O did not go too badly either. I made mistakes but then I always do. I also ended up with wet muddy feet- something that the first 28 miles of the day had not given me.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

No 11 Sefton coastal path

Actually not all of it as I had to make it circular to get back to the car. I supose I could have used the train to make a linea run work but I also wanted to do what I thought would be the best bits ie. chop off a bit at both ends.
Start of the Trans pennine Way
It was cold but sunny as I set off along the sea shore at Southport with the sun beating down on Lytham across the estuary.
I stayed off the tramac for as long as I could but was eventually forced up onto the prom by wet sand. It was a relief to get to the southern end of the prom and cut onto the grass again near Birkdale. All the little twisty turny up and down bits made me feel I was running fast and it was forgiving under foot. I got used to recognising the marker posts although there were a few other white topped posts that were for other paths too.

  After Ainsdale the route cuts behind Woodvale airfield and follows the railway line and the edge of the forest. It was a lovely grassy path and a real bonus not to be knee deep in mud or water (for now!). To avoid the golf course there was a big loop towards the sea through gorgeous woodland and lumpy vegetated dunes. Then just before the squirrel sanctuary I lost the posts for a bit and explored some very wild looking dunes.

 At least I could just run as the whim took me today - most of my previous visits have been for orienteering events where navigation has mattered much more! I arrived at the car park to find a micro wagon grinding coffee beans and making delicious smelling coffee. Not normally my choice mid run but I could not resist. It fueled me for the next stretch to Lifeboat Road and a little exploration on the boardwalk to the beach.

I ran far enough along the beach to see the wind turbines  gently circling and the Liverpool skyline in the distance. I had thought of continuing to see the Gormley statues but I had done 14 miles so it was time to turn back, the soft sand was beginning to take it's toll anyway. Somewhere north of the squirrels I lost the marker posts and just ran roughly north. How hard could it be so long as I kept the sea on my left?

It was not my best decision and the next few miles through or around the Ainsdale nature reserve were punishing. The paths were tiny and went up and down like a rollercoaster. I found some white topped posts to follow but they took me through huge icy puddles and then a lake. I was now soaked from the knees downwards, but clean. Just when I had really had enough and was planning a break out to the beach I spotted the top of Pontins holiday camp.

A short stretch on tarmac was almost a relief and then there was the lovely twisty grassy path again past Birkdale again. My pace by now was snail like so I stopped for some food just before Southport and the long straight stretch along the prom past the sailing club and golf courses back to the car. Another 28 miles completed and I was tired.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

No 10 The Guild Wheel plus a bit.

I promised I'd run on Tuesday and so I did. My groin still felt a bit sore so I opted for the Guild Wheel around Preston knowing that I could cut it short almost anywhere and get a lift home.
Bit of a double edge sword that one, but once I had 5 miles under my belt I really enjoyed the brilliantly sunny day. The world was out enjoying such fantastic half term weather so I had loads of people to chat to. The first section is my route to work and even though I had left it til 10 ish this was the quietest bit by far. It felt a bit wierd, but very nice, to be running past work and not stopping.

 It was here I began a little game of cat and mouse with two groups of cyclists. They'd overtake me and then slow on a hill or at a gate or in the case of the second group when junior ran out of leg strength. The game kept me going most of the way to Brockholes and even stopped me diverting into the Spar in search of food.

The Wheel is quite varied in terms of the surface, surroundings and undulation. More than I like is tarmac but there are stetches of gravel, packed mud and even grass verge.
 It takes in the Millenium canal, countryside, modern housing estates, old lanes now closed to cars, an industrial estate, crematorium, woodland, the old gravel pits that are the bird reserve, the Ribble, Avenham Park and the docks.There is only one big hill at the ancient river cliff and going clockwise you go down it!

Brockholes was sunny and although the play area and cafe were busy I knew the more distant paths would be quiet. A good place to put in a 3 mile loop with the promise of the cafe if I really needed it. The ponds were covered in birds so it appears to have been a success both for wildlife and commerce. The cafe and other buildings are all on a floating pontoon and are starting to look less stark now.
It is quite peaceful despite being so close to the M6. Not just any stretch of M6 but the oldest bit of motorway in Britain! built as Preston by pass in 1958 - just a shame that the big plaque celebrating this it not very accessable on foot. Anyway I was making good time so texted Bob just in case he came looking for me. Only 4 miles of easy running to Avenham Park and the official start/ end of the Wheel now. I arrived feeling quite fresh so did a lap of the park - my first home in Preston was in an old Tower at the top of the park so I have fond memories of it.
                                                                                                            I decided I needed liquid and had just paid for my pot of tea when Bob appeared on his bike. It was nice to have someone to chat to. He even offered to cycle slowly and pace me for a while but I knew this would tempt me to run too fast and I have more runs planned for this half term yet. I had obviously sat still for too long and felt a bit stiff as I set off back to the old tram way to add another little loop.
                                                                                                                      The tram way was built to link Preston and the Lancaster canal to the Leeds- Liverpool via the Walton spur. That completed it was off down the Ribble towards the docks, out to the Bulls Nose and then the long mile steadily uphill to home. You can see the whole mile stretching out and it is the only bit of the wheel next to a busy road and fumes. So to escape the fumes and not to be seen to be walking or plodding by motorists I always run this faster than I think possible. The Wheel is 21 miles but with my little loops I managed 28 altogether. Not bad for a day when I nearly turned back after 10 mins.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

No 9 Beacon Bash

Driving to Newburgh I had reservations about today. My legs felt tired from yesterdays 29.5 miles and my groin was sore. BUT the sun was shining and it was a route I had not done before.
 I decided to do some of my extra miles before the run today so I headed off through the village and down onto the canal tow path. It was flat and not too muddy, the perfect way to get an extra 4.5 miles done. It also gave me a chance to check out the first section of the route. It was deserted as I headed away from Newburgh.  Despite the frost on the car this morning it was obviously going to be a warm one and before the canal bridge turn off I was shedding hat and gloves.
 As I turned back to the village and the start I met the first of the 'walkers' who set off at 8am. At first I thought I had made a mistake because some were running at a fair pace but they assured me they were walkers. It was good to get back in plenty of time and to know there was only 2 miles to add on at the end. The start was typically laid back LDWA and we were off. Nick shot off at race pace and despite my best intentions I got sucked along until my groin objected and common sense prevailed.

 By the first checkpoint I had regained my place with some of the runners and seemed to have warmed up again. I tracked a couple in front of me who seemed to know where they were going. Keeping them in my sight pulled me along across the very muddy stretches that had been used for the Parbold Hill race yesterday. A quick chat established that they did not know the route but had it on their garmins.
 Using that and some checks of the written description got us round together.  It is a very mixed route with lanes, tracks and some very very muddy paths and fields. We caught more walkers up on the flog up to Harrock Hill and the derelict windmill and slowly picking them off helped keep up the pace. Now it was down and down some more to the main road and into Fairy Glen and on towards Appley Bridge. The checkpoint here was superb and I was ready for the sandwiches and cup of tea. Inevitably the next section was up and up. Initially I was on my own but it wasn't long before Alsion and Duncan caught me up again. Some very muddy track led us across to CP4. The next up had false summits and all but surely it would be the last climb.

        The route takes you through Beacon Park which is probably safer and more pleasant than the road, but not so easy running. It was glorious and I was even tempted to stop on one of the benches and soak up the rays. I foolishly decided CP5 was close enough to the end to ignore and so missed the soup. I had not been to Ashurst Beacon before and am just sorry that my photo either makes it or me appear drunk! I had an altercation with a small dog on a stretchy lead here and only just managed to stay on my feet.  I had convinced myself that it was now all downhill- huh. Some very swampy fields with interesting oily patches and a strange loop meant it was further and harder than I thought.
 Eventually we could see the village and we were back well inside 4 hours. I refueled with pie, peas, apple pie and many cups of tea before treking back to the car and setting off for my extra 2 miles. The sun was still shining brightly when I left. 27.5 miles run. Not exactly speedy but a lovely day out in the sun (not sure I would appreciate this route in the rain though).

Saturday, 16 February 2013

No 8 Reservoirs and monuments

Not an event but a little adventure of my own making to celebrate the start of half term. My son drove me to the start- that in itself still seems odd, but we made it his first excursion on the motorway. The first few miles were fairly speedy along the lanes from Abbey Village to Brinscall.

The sun was shining and I had all day. There were plenty of runners, cyclists and dog walkers to say Hi to. Before long I had passed White Coppice and was heading for the little reservoir below Healy Nab. I decided to check out the footpath on the west side of the goit- even muddier than the main path! Anglezarke looked very still and peaceful but the water was flying down the overflow from Yarrow reservoir.
On, on and into Rivington Park. Again I decided to explore a bit and went up through some of the japanese gardens . They have grubbed out lots of the Rhoddies but some of the stoney paths were very slimey on the way up to the top road. I gave the Pike a miss today and just stayed on the big track to Pike cottage where the views across the Lancashire Plain were great.
Here I turned up and onto the moor to head for the masts on Winter Hill. Almost all the snow had gone and the ground was certainly not frozen anymore - what a difference a week makes. Yet another pond.. I seemed to spend the day next to water. I had been getting warm but the breeze was just right now so I pushed on. I thought running on the boggy bits was hard work but some cyclists emerging from Smithills Moor looked exhausted. Perhaps they were just trying harder than me. 
As this was not a race and not even an event I had time to stop and explore today- hence the monuments in the title.

 I have no idea what he did or why he was in Lancashire but the memorial to the 'barbarously murdered' Scotsman has been there ages. Only a few hundred metres later is the memorial to those who died on the moor in a plane crash much more recently. The descent to the main road was easy running and I even managed to overtake a mountain biker!
I decided against the bog and mud fest of the next section of the A Amble route and shot down the road into Belmont and the dye works before heading on to the new dam road and yet another reservoir. From there it was a steady but easy climb up to the Witton Weavers Way. At least there were no marauding cattle today. Some mountain bikers shot along the track just before I emerged but I had no chance of keeping up - or so I thought until they too turned uphill towards Darwen Moor and were forced to get off and push. I was now checking out a 'new to me' path ready for the Two Crosses event next month. The path is wetter and boggier than the main track but it made a change and brought me down to just the right place to cross the main road into Cadshaw woods. The reservoir was full to the brim and had even spilt across the path but it was flat easy running from there to the dam.  The Strawberry Duck car park was crowded and here I met the mountain bikers again but going in the opposite direction. The path to Edge Fold was almost a river but I was soon back at the main road. Here the wheels sort of came off. Last week I ran a fair bit of this chasing Steve and John and trying to keep ahead of Pete. Today my body did not want to play so I trotted, hobbled and walked up onto the moor.
 The paths up here were a mud fest but I ploughed on to the Tower and hoped I would get second wind.  From the Tower I knew it was the home stretch so I phoned for a lift and set off a bit faster down to Ryal Fold and into Tockholes Woods. Yet three more reservoirs and even more mud and I was back at Abbey Village.
                                                                              I was so engrossed getting as much mud off as possible that I didn't even hear Bob shouting. I thought I'd have a short wait but he was already there - reliable as always. Thanks. Not sure why I felt so knackered and just hope I have a bit more energy for tomorrows run.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

No7 Anglezarke Amble

I have done this route many times both as the event and also just on my own. It has changed a bit over the years- mainly it has got longer as it used to start at the top barn and also later went up the NE side of Entwhistle reservoir and below Cadshaw rocks. The forecast rain did not materialise at the start so it was good to be able to congregate in the road and chat. There were a number of Preston Harriers that I had not seen for a bit - Thanks for the hug and kiss Mick, plus good to see you Steve, John, and Jim. It was also good to see Andy (Splatcher) back running.

The registration queue was still out the door so we were a little late starting. Wendy was wanting to be off in the hope she could get to the cross country afterwards and I was going to add a few miles to make it an ultra.  Many walkers had obviously started early because we were overtaking them for some time even up as far as Winter Hill. The pull up to Rivington Pike never gets any easier and always seems to come before I am well warmed up. Nick was clearly on fire and was leading the way and running strongly. I was concerned that I was with Steve and John who are far better runners than me. Meanwhile Pete was even further up ahead and was either going to have a storming run or regret the early pace. Albert disappeared into the distance never to be seen again, well not by me. By the Pike there was increasing amounts of snow on the ground and the low cloud made it most atmospheric. The road upto the masts had not been driven on and had a nice layer of snow. The masts were creaking above but no ice was falling thank goodness.
The track down towards Belmont was actually nicer than usual despite the snow covered stones but I was cautious of turning an ankle and took it steady. At the road we found some checkpoint marshalls who seemed to have moved from their traditional position but were not ready for us. The next few fields were the usual bog fest and then we were climbing towards the part of the route that I think is navigationally tricky. Little fenced area on right and head towards next gate. Oops even today I veered a tiny bit too far left. After the marker post where the shorter route breaks away is the true test. It did not disappoint and it was not long before a whole group of us were muttering and debating the correct line. Wendy of course knew the way- but was at the back of the group. Albert claims there is a path across that area but I have never found it. On my last attempt on a clear day with no time constraints I was driven astray by marrauding heifers that did not want me on their land (honest- they stalked me and scared me before running me off route and away into the marsh grass).
 Soon we were on the big track and heading for the Bolton Road. I kept an eye out for the gloves I lost weeks ago but someone has obviously collected them. By now I had reeled Pete back in and worryingly left Steve and John behind. The Entwhistle Barn CP was actually out on the dam road and the marshall cheerful yelled at 'all us lads to make an orderly line' (which explains why he later told Wendy she was first lady). I had a mouthful of tea and then kept plodding. Nick, Pete and others were stretching out ahead but I could not stick with them, my right bum muscles hurt and that was all there was to it. Walk, stretch and pray they felt better. For a while I was on my own but it wasn't long before Steve and John reclaimed their rightful places ahead of me and we headed back to the road for the assault on Darwen Moor. I could hear voices behind us and used the lads ahead and Pete just behind me to keep me going to the top. Then Richard and Ian arrived.They had started steadily but were moving well.The snow on the top was an improvement on mud but sadly the ground was not frozen enough to prevent cold wet feet. Somewhere after the little ramp at the cattle grid I took my eye off the ball because I never even saw the first path off to the right. This meant when we got to the next path and should have turned for the Tower we questioned it but decided it should still be straight on. Oops- a gang of locals and we all went the wrong way. Once our footprints were there we started a trend and even Ian who had stopped for a toilet break followed them. It was not a disaster just an annoying two long sides of a triangle. I contended myself with it meaning I would have less mileage to add at the end. Nick, Steve and John grinned at us as the sped off towards Slipper Lowe and we cut back to the Tower. There was no marshall and so no jelly babies at the Tower this year, just a self clip standing all forlorn. Annoyance at our mistake and the thought of a hotdog at the next CP made me run harder. The CP was busy with walkers from the shorter route but no hotdogs. I grabbed a cup of tea and cake before spotting Mick arriving. He had overtaken Pete to catch us up. On On... Only one big hill to go now. The fields below Great Hill are always wet but today they seemed no worse than usual, in fact they were not as bad as I expected. The stone cross shelter on the summit was not a place to linger in the mist and drizzle so I shot off down to Drinkwaters. From here I always feel you are on the final stretch. I enjoyed the blast down to White Coppice and even stopped for a couple of photos.(this really was taken on the same day as the one ascending Rivington Pike!)
I love this little cricket ground and have started many training runs from here, along with the PH Curry runs. Today though it was swift hello and thank you to the marshalls and I was off. I relentlessly picked off walkers up ahead and was sooon running through the woods and towards the reservoirs. The little short cut on the tiny road has a tree down so I stuck to the tarmac and on past the quarries. A quick check of my watch showed this was not going to be a great time and was likely to be a PW but nevermind. I tried to make up what I could and wondered how far ahead Nick might be.
The answer was only a minute or so, which if I had known might have made me try even harder. The pull up by the cobbled reservoir overspill is a nasty little sting in the tail but from there it is an easy run back down the stoney track, alongside the  stream, up the steps with the 'new' handrail and one last field. As I entered the hall to give in my tally there was Nick just getting his shoes off. Good run that man, and in shorts too! I paused for just a quick chat with Bob who had come to collect me and those that had finished. I was keen to get the extra miles done so that I could eat. It was a steady run down to the castle, a little loop and then back.             27.7 miles done. Food at last. Apart from a hot spot on one toe I didn't feel too bad and was soon warm. That meant I had an hour or so to get to the M61 services to meet my lift to Sheffield for the British Night O champs. The gameplan was to have tired legs so that I ran slowly and navigated carefully.Well you can dream.
PS. I ran fairly slowly and navigated badly. Made some pretty awful errors. Took one flying tumble when mt feet got wrapped in brambles but sort of enjoyed myself despite all this. A full day. Sunday morning was already spoken for in the guise of DoE with kids from school. I had sort of planned a route running home from there but after 3 hours or so of standing around in the snow, sleet and drizzle I decided not to push my luck. After all I would like to enjoy my challenge. It was a bit wierd to be home and I felt vague disappointed not to be running- my legs felt surprisingly OK.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

No 6 Rombalds Stride

The forecast was set for cold but dry and bright! I hoped the 2 foot of snow had vanished and that the cold overnight would not cause too many icy patches. I had planned to pick up Mick in Earby on the way but got a text as I was eating my porridge saying he was ill. Shame for you Mick, it was a good day.

I arrived in masses of time which meant I got a car park space at the school and had opportunity to catch up with many friends. I had not seen Joyce for ages not Dave Tait. I also found Jon Steele whose adventures last year got me into all this. He was a postive and supportive as ever. I had not realised until I got home that Rombalds was also his No 6. A lucky omen perhaps.

 The start- just down from the school

I had intended to run a little more conservatively than last year when I stupidly tried to race Helene for a while (until she pulled away into the distance that is). Knowing I would have to go back out and add 4+miles was one reason and also trying to look after my body a bit too. Despite that I couldn't help myself and soon decided that I had to be ahead of Joyce. I was steady on the road section to the bucket drop but seemed to be loosing places rapidly.  Climbing up to Baildon Moor seemed tough and either my legs or my mind seemed to lack power. By Rombalds Moor Nick had caught me up and we ran together along the controversial flagstones almost until the route turned north and headed for the 'new' or moved CP.
 Thanks for sitting out in the cold Dave Woodhead

 The controversial flagstones

 He missed my trip and bounce along the floor. The grass and paths across to Ilkley were a bit icy in places but mostly gave easy running. I suddenly realised I was hungry and had a small piece of cake and half a mug of tea before climbing to White Wells and into Rocky Valley. Being in a little group was making me keep my pace up and it was good to have confirmation that I was still on route.  Before long we hit the grassy descent to Burley Woodhead where Rachel FR's dad gave me a friendly cheer. I hoped I could remember the nav for next bit without having to slow and read the instructions. Luckily there were two runners just ahead and I kept them in sight until the climb onto the ridge above Ellar Ghyll. Then the wheels came off. The group I had been with all pulled away and the tank was empty. I foolishly had not eaten because I did not feel like food. I stuffed down a finger of fudge and tried but failed to catch them up. Climbing up The Chevin I managed to overtake a few people and this cheered me, plus the fudge was now working a bit. The woods just before the top are beautiful and I had a quick chat with Heather who was also suffering. At least I knew that from the last CP it would all be downhill. I had forgotten how wet and muddy the track was, probably because last year it was snowing quite heavily. By now I could smell the finish and was overtaking people again. A quick glance at my watch told me I would be slower than last years (3 39)but easily inside 4 hours. I was at 3 51. So not too bad. After registering my finish I went back out and began my extra miles by walking back up towards the last checkpoint. I chose this despite the uphill as I knew I would see lots of people finishing and be able to cheer them on. First Nick, then Jon , then Joyce and more.....

 Nick almost at the finish (and not very far behind me)

I didn't manage to run much of the hill but picked up once I got the the track. The marshalls at the CP were a bit bemussed to find someone going the wrong way and the cameramen just beyond them clearly thought I was nuts. I did a nice little loop along the ridge and explored beyond where I had been before and then when I knew the total would be over 27 1/2 miles I retraced my footsteps and ran down the last bit of the route all over again.

The Chevin

It was good to get back inside and sit down with food and drink. I am rarely great about eating and drinking when I run but today I was plain stupid! Lesson learned, maybe.

On the extra loop
I really enjoyed sitting with Nick, Jon et al and having a natter whilst I refuelled. I enjoy the runs themselves but one of the things I like best about these events is just how friendly everyone is.  I also suggested that this 52 lark should be a relay and that I woud gladly hand over to Nick for 2014 if I don't drop the baton. Not the best performance but what a great day out.