I knew the start would be fast, especially as some people were running the slightly shorter 18 mile route. Josie and Albert disappeared into the distance so I settled into a comfortable pace and before long had the company of Hopey and his mates. They knew the way so I stuck with them til Turton Tower. I think Two Towers would be a better name for this race as you go past and close to both whereas I never saw the first cross as it is a bit further up the road. As we climbed it got nippy and I had to put my cag on- well, yes OK, it gave me a chance to slow down too. Climbing up from Green Arms Road to Turton Heights the snow was about 4 inches thick but sadly not very firm or frozen so by the time I hit the A666 CP I was fairly wet and muddy.
The next bit was worrying me but despite the snow covered bogs and tussocks plus not being able to see more than 100m in the gloom I made it through to the big track without any detours. The next section is home territory and I knew the way. The track was full of icy puddles and my right toes went numb but before long the next CP was visable with two marshalls reclining in deck chairs! The climb onto Darwen Moor was slippy with the mud and snow and I couldn't decide whether to follow the approved route or stick to the big track.
In the end I did turn at the culvert and picked up the higher path but there was only one set of foot prints in front of me so others had obviously stayed on the big track. It wasn't the easy running I had hoped for but I never sank in above my knees so that was a bonus. Running along the side of Turton Reservoir seemed to take ages but I was rewarded with a mug of soup at the CP. I did not know the next bit but it looked straight forward and by now I was catching the walkers on the shorter route which helped with navigation and gave me people to pick off (I know LDWAs are events not races but....). I had run on my own since Turton Tower so it was nice to have some company even if it was just to say a fleeting Hi. Climbing towards Bull Hill there was a disgusting smell and I assumed a sheep was dead. Apparently it is always like that as it is a maggot farm. Ugh. The route across the top was flagged but otherwise was a two tone landscape of black mud and white snow.
The next high CP 'Naughty Corner' offered me refreshments to my surprise. I could not believe they had lugged stuff up there. I said No thanks and ploughed on only to find out later that there was whiskey and all sorts. Oh well- I just have to do it next year as well. I got to the very splendid Peel Tower a bit knackered and my 'numb' foot was no better. The descent was not easy as it started on a very rocky track and ended down some very steep and slippy mud. I whimped out and walked a bit, but did stay upright.
One CP to gow and I could smell the finish. After a narrow muddy path it was across the golf course to the church and then into Greenmount and onto the old railway line. This should have been an easy and speedy finish but I shamefully let the guy behind me overtake- not by much but I just had nothing left in my legs. As we handed in tallies at the door I could smell the soup. Yum. LDWA events are superb for both their marshalls and the food. This was no exception, infact we had a choice of three kinds of homemade soup! It was good to sit and chat with Tony, Albert and Josie. Albert had made it round in an heroic time given the conditions but was now looking decidedly off colour. Josie had decided he was going too fast and bailed onto the shorter course so we think I was first lady on the long. Very satisfying. A new event and a good 28 miles plus completed. Probably the muddiest I have been for a while too.