Wednesday, 28 August 2013

No 47 Solitude in the Lakes

I wasn't sure I would fit in a race mid-week this time but the forecast looked OK and this time next week I will be back at work regretting it if I sat at home. It was a quick hours drive to the outskirts of Shap on a quiet M6. By 9am I was parked near the cattle grid at the bottom of Wet Sleddale and ready to run. So many memories- my first OMM with Rowena had the mid-camp here, a SLMM with my son had the event centre here and we have driven along the concrete road to orienteer.

Sadly the forecast hadn't come true and it looked decidedly gloomy with all the tops covered in low cloud. I decided to run anti-clockwise rather than what I had planned as this would keep me low for the first hours or so and perhaps the weather would improve. I started off along the old water board concrete road and got a mile or so under my belt. It might not be sunny but it was still warm and the thermal had to come off. I was also testing out my Hokas (bought at about 50% off I hasten to add).

 I have been intrigued by these for some time after Mark L enthusing about them and then my brother having a pair. I tried them on a short run near home and they didn't cripple me so now I wanted to see what they were like over a long run. Despite looking a bit clown like they don't feel big once they are on and I did not trip up over them which was one of my fears. I dropped down to Keld and picked up the footpath past Shap abbey ruins and then Rosgill. Here I swung towards the hills and worked my way towards Burnbanks.

Again more memories- an mid-camp for the SLMM where the rest of the family were helping and several orienteering events. The bracken was tall but I worked my way above it and onto the ridge and Bampton Common. It was eerily quiet and I had not seen anyone close enough to speak to yet. This is perhaps what let me get close to a large herd of deer- until they took fright and disappeared over the ridge and down into Cawdale.

 As the main High Street ridge came into sight I cut the corner and headed straight for Loadpot Hill. I had it to myself and took a photo quickly because within minutes the cloud was rushing towards me and the views became rather intermittent. It was cooler up here but so long as I was moving it was warm enough in shorts and vest.
Just before the cloud came in and spoilt my view
 The run south along the ridge was a delight and the Hokas felt comfy. On High Raise I met a walker who seemed amused by how much he was wearing and how little I had on (or perhaps it was the Hokas). I plodded on south, ignoring Kidsty Pike as it was shrouded in cloud. High Street Racecourse Hill summit was the cloudiest of all so although I had planned to stop, eat and admire the views I just grabbed a bar and ran on.

 I sped past some walkers and then did a double take. Coming up the path towards me were Ray P and Graham E - friends from fell running and orienteerng. We exchanged a brief greeting, moaned about the cloud and went our separate ways. I was keen to see how the Hokas coped with the rocky paths on the next section. At Nan Bield Pass I was rewarded with a great view both down into Kentmere and towards Haweswater.

The shelter was full so I climbed up onto Harter Fell which was quiet but a bit chilly. The Hokas seemed to grip well and made running over the rocks and stones easy on the 'improved' path on my way to Adam Seat.  Here I dropped to Gatesgarth Pass and an even bigger rocky track. I also ran off the bottom of my map- not a worry as I knew it would take me down to the old mine workings and back into the warmth and then I could turn and climb over the boggy bits to Mosedale.

My feet had stayed dry til now but that was definitely set to change so perhaps doing the run anti-clockwise had been a good idea after all, rather than getting wet feet almost at the start. I am always amazed how quiet this part of the Lakes is and today I saw nobody.
Gatesgarth and the mine workings

Looking back to Blea Tarn the tops still had cloud

True it doesn't have the big peaks but I like it for the lack of crowds and because it is so varied. I stopped briefly at Mosedale Cottage and finished the last of my water with my Aldi fake Snickers bar. I thought about being able to live there- it is beautiful but I am sure the novelty would wear off and the hassle of getting to the shops for food would take over.

My feet were now quite damp and muddy but although I had not tested the Hokas on any steep grassy slopes or mud I had not slipped over yet. I squelched onwards to the bridge that would let me cross the beck and climb to reach Sleddale. A quick glance at my garmin showed I needed a few more miles so I set out to explore the lumpy hills to my north. They had some great names- like Willy Winder Hill and Gambling Crag, bu they also had an oddity. Great Ladstones has lost it's Trig point. It is not on the map and this is all that is left.

 Perhaps it is all there ever was? I have not seen one like this before.  Rafland Forest has also disappeared  but the sheep made up for it. I am not sure who dabbed them with paint after shearing but the red paint seemed to have run and most of the sheep were now totally pink! I ran down hill, on sheep trods and quad bike tracks until I met the concrete road. It was then an easy run back to the car. As I sat contemplating my run the sun came out and I suspect the tops were clear but never mind. I had enjoyed my day out.  At least 29 miles done (possibly more as my garmin died)
As for the Hokas- I think for trails they might be good. Over rough stuff or grass and tussocks perhaps not. They felt good while I was running but actually my feet felt a bit battered by the end. I will try them again when I know it will be all on good path or track.

Monday, 26 August 2013

No 46 Reccee of the YORM

We had planned to run on Friday but the weather forecast, and the rain, in Yorkshire was not good. We have managed to run in heat and sunshine twice a week for most of July and August so it seemed a shame to spoil our record.The beauty of being on holiday meant we could just delay. Sunday night saw us ensconced on Penistone Hill above Haworth and ready for the off.

We even had an evening stroll across the moor to check out the multitude of pathways before turning in for the night. By 7.30 we were up and apart from some early mist it promised to be a fantastic day. Bob was going for a recce of the half route so I left him having a more leisurely breakfast.  I was confident I knew the route for the first bit. I ran down the track to the road and was soon up at Drop Farm and heading for the reservoir and the rocky track that would take me almost to the Top O Stair.

Somewhere along this first bit I realised that the red circles with YORM were for us! I had not realised the route would be marked. I think I would have found the correct culvert on my own but the markers took the doubt away and allowed me to head off along this beautifully level path for a couple of miles.

 I stopped to text Bob as he had been worrying about route finding and did not know the area as well as me. The only problem with flat is that you have to run all of it and feel you should run fast. I did admire the views as I ran though even if it was a bit hazy. I love this part of the country where there are wild moors, the steepest of valleys, remote farms of ancient gritstone and loads of history with old 'roads' and mills.

White Moor Lane was wet and muddy but I was soon on a good dry path and heading high up on to the moor. The heather was bright purple and I don't really mind the wind turbines. The YORM markers were still there to help me but I was sure the next bit would be easy and I just had to spot the turn off down to the footbridge across Ogden Clough.

  Then before I knew it I was at the house that was once the Withens Pub. 8 miles done and going by present progress I would be back very early in the afternoon. I suddenly realised that I knew the next bit too. Just as well as the YORM markers seemed to have stopped. I had run across to Slade Barn on a Calder Valley event organised by Bill J.Once I was out of the bogs it was easy running over Rocking Stone Flat and towards the Gatehouse which I recognised from the FRA relays some years ago now.

The next bit led me past yet another former pub. I picked up the Calderdale Way signs well but was tempted to run down a grassy track that seemed to go more directly towards the golf course. It will be interesting to see if anyone goes that way in the race. Today I stuck with the description down and down then across the fields and a track to Brookhouse. I made my first real mistake here and crossed the stream to a tiny footpath almost enclosed by nettles. I am sure there must be a better path on the other side. I emerged near the dam searching for dock leaves. The cafe looked inviting but I pushed on towards the A629 and Denholme. Noisy traffic and a derelict factory meant it was not a place to linger.

Here I picked up the YORM markers again- maybe it was just me not finding them between Slade barn and Denholme? The lane and then path took me under a railway bridge and down to a small reservoir where I was treated to yet more nettles. Here I found not only dock leaves but some blackberries. Then it was over the dam and across fields to a path that led to the railway viaduct. I had made a big mistake here on the long-O event and searched for the control under the viaduct rather than on top of it.

Today my instructions were clear and I stayed high. The next few miles covered the same ground as the long O so I ran well until a huge bank of blackberries tempted me to stop and eat. Dolphin Lane on the outskirts of Cullingworth seemed hard work but the reward was a lovely grassy track all the way to Ryecroft. I had run out of water so knocked on an open door. The elderly couple invited me in and let me drink and fill my bottle. I set off revived and was soon on a lovely piece of moor. It was so good I put in an extra lap and added two of my extra miles. The route description for the whole of the rest of the route seemed very short but I found my way OK in the end. A couple of times I just kept running and hoping I would meet another marker or red paint. Each times just as I was getting uncertain a blob of red was there. The footpath after the single turbine and stone quarry had yet more nettles but the river path to Brow Road was pleasant. There must have been a few people out on the route today because one guy asked me if it was a race. From the bridge it was uphill all the way and the only respite was when my phone rang.

 I stopped to check in case it was Bob but it was only the provider trying to sell me stuff. Butt Lane had a very steep start but I managed to run from in front of the secondary school to the end. I detoured to check the price of parking and then did battle with the tourists in Haworth. It was a relief to trek up through the car parks and the relative solitude of Penistone Hill. An extra little loop around the bottom, up to the trig and then back past the cricket club and into the main car park.

 Bob was already back and changed but said he had not been back long. I had a long lay in the sun eating, drinking and reading. What a glorious day. 29.5 miles.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

No 45 A day with the Army

I couldn't believe my luck when I found a mid week event that we could do on our return journey. The Shipton Star from Shipton Bellinger on the edge of Salisbury Plain. A local walking group was putting on an event with a difference. There would be 4 routes of 10km and also 4 of around 5km. You could do as many as you wished and in any order, all for £2! ( I have tried to do a map but can't see how to get a pdf uploaded here)

 We found a quiet camp spot just before Stonehenge and had a leisurely drive on Wednesday morning. By 8.35 we had registered and were off on our first leg. We had no maps of this area and so were totally reliant on map memory from the village hall and had to read the written descriptions carefully as we ran. Fortunately the organisers had been out with electrical tape and each route of the 'star' was a different colour. Once you got used to what you were looking for it worked well and I made very few errors. My first leg was trickiest as it was marked with red tape but the army had been all over the area marking with red, orange and other colours. It took me north and east but that was about all I could remember once I started running. My start included a steep uphill on a chalky tank track.

 It also included some beautiful woods and typical grassy Downs. So mostly fantastic running and despite stops for peas ( no- not a typo, I really did find peas to eat) and the most enormous blackberries I have ever seen I was back at HQ within an hour. I quickly swapped my paper for the yellow route and set off again. This time I followed paths north to Tidworth camp and got to admire superbly manicured polo, rugby and football pitches. (now I know where my taxes go). After a wonderful little wooded section I emerged on a heath to find two tanks lumbering past and a land rover doing about 50mph up my path.

Not many photos- hazy and few things to prop my camera on
 Our route skirted their training area before heading into woods and then running along a ridge at the edge of the Ranges. The instructions said to follow the gravel road but I found a nice little path parallel but just inside the woods. I had a brief rest and chat at the end of this leg. The organisers were more used to walkers and it seemed rude to rush off. A bite to eat and I was fuelled for the green leg. This took me west past many firing ranges and along  grassy tracks to Bulford Camp. We then climbed onto a ridge for the return leg.

The views across Salisbury Plain were great, if a little hazy in the distance. I missed the chalk Kiwi that the New Zealanders carved in the ground back in 1919 but did meet some young soldiers out on a training walk? ( they had no gear and were not running). I lost the green tape for a short while but fortunately the visibility was good and I could see the village church and the scar of the chalky tank track from my first leg. My final leg took me back east, first along an ancient cart track, then up through woods, past some all weather gallops and then up to a burial mound.

This was now heathland and cereal crops again and I stopped to admire the poppies and other wild flowers. Heading back on good tracks I found yet more blackberries to eat. So four loops of the star meant I had done 40km or 25 miles.

 The debate was what to do next. The shorter/ 5km routes pretty much mirrored what I had done already so I tried to pick the one that looked most interesting. A chat before I set off gave me extras to look for- apparently this area is visited by a rare butterfly and people travel from all over the UK. It was out today so I looked carefully. I might have seen it but although I identified at least 4 different sorts I'm not really sure.

When I finished this short leg I found Bob was also back and was eating. He was happy to have done 3 laps and to have covered 20 miles in a respectable time- I will make an ultra runner of him before the year is out! The routes had been such good value we had no hesitation in buying the food they had laid on  and adding a bit extra for their trouble. I had not really eaten except a savoury muffin and all my foraging in the wild but now we were back I was hungry and very very thirsty. I treated myself to a lie in the sun and three litres of water  before we set off on the long journey north. We met some heavy showers as we drove but yet again we had run in sunshine.

No 44 The Dorset Doddle

Having decided to stay in the UK, rather than to head for France, I now wanted (i) see my parents, (ii) go away in the van and (iii) find some different events. Scouring the LDWA site I found not just a weekend event but a mid week just a few days later. We drove to Swanage and arrived to find a typical English seaside resort- wind, drizzle and people out determined to enjoy themselves. Having checked out the location for the event and the parking we walked the last bit of the Doddle route.

Neither of us wanted to be dithering at the end of the race and if the forecast was correct we would have hundreds of tourists to negotiate our way through. Content that we understood the route we explored Swanage, which didn't take long, and found a cafe for hot chocolate and cake. Our 'campsite' was easily resolved when we asked if we could stay in the pub car park once we had eaten our meal and had a few drinks.

The race is linear so in the morning we drove back into Swanage and awaited the coaches that would take us to Weymouth. By the time we arrived the early morning rain had stopped and it was fairly warm. We collected our tallies and surprise, surprise bumped into Sarah and Andy. Living in Leeds and Preston we were all a long way from home!

 Minutes before the start the rain clouds vanished and the sun came out...... and stayed out all day. We gathered under the clock tower and suddenly we were off. Making promises is one thing but the flat prom soon meant we were running at a cracking pace and worryingly I found myself in the front pack of 8 or so. The coast path itself would be easy to follow but there were going to be at least three diversions due to cliff falls and more confusingly some of these had now been mended and so could be run by mistake. The 'new' route would apparently be slightly longer but without some of the climb. By the time we reached the first CP at Osmington Mills it was clear it would be a very hot day. The overnight rain had made some of the paths during the first 5 miles greasy but after this the ground was well drained and dry.

 We settled into a more reasonable pace and I started to admire the views. As we climbed over huge grassy headlands we passed busy campsites and were taunted by the smells of cooked breakfasts. It was great to run somewhere so different and also with different people. Most of those in our loose pack were locals, although some knew the way better than others. I think the last time I was here was briefly in 1990 to rock climb on the cliffs we would see later and also as a ten year old on holiday. My maps stayed in my sack but I was pleased to have the written description to hand.

As we came to the end of our first diversion and headed back to the cliff tops we were treated to the classic view of Durdle Door but then had another small diversion to reach Lulworth Cove. Chatting to the guys around me I was now starting to worry about the pace as it seemed we would finish well inside 6 hours. It was a relief to reach the CP and fill up with water and take a breather. Again we diverted from the true coast path and followed a ridge running due east to the next bays. This took us along the edge of the army ranges and following the 'safety' markers was easy. The sun was blazing now and the ups and downs were starting to take their toll. Our 'group' got more strung out and I made a pairing with a guy from Weymouth.

He knew the area well but not the intricacies of each diversion. With the thought that two heads are better than one we made a silent pact to stick together. It also kept the pace strong as we each felt the other person could go faster and we were perhaps slowing things down!  The detour around Kimmeridge was the largest and took us furthest inland. It meant we missed some of the coastal scenery but instead by running on higher ridges we got more distant views. Not long after Kimmeridge we climbed to the highest pint in the area at 203m. It seemed insignificant compared to some of the very steep climbs of ??? steps that we had flogged up already. We did a circuit of the burial mound and headed for the next CP. It was a short gap between CPs here but we were glad of the water. Although I did not relish a couple of kilometres on lanes it was easy running and we did get the shade of a wood that was pleasantly cool. Leaving Kingston we headed due south for St Aldhelm's Head and met the coast path again just east of Chapmans Pool. The rest would be easy to navigate as it is so popular and so well marked. Running out to the Lookout Station we had the breeze in our faces for the first time.

 No complaints though as without the breeze the day would have been much hotter. From the end of the headland we could now see Anvil Point. It looked tantalisingly close but was about 8 miles away. Despite being tired I really enjoyed this final section of the run and pushed myself quite hard. (no photos along here) The path got a little more crowded along this section with walkers from Swanage and some climbers from  the campsites in Langton Matravers. Everyone was extremely pleasant and jumped out of our way; a few even knew what we were doing and shouted well done. Anvil Point was the last CP. The friendly marshalls pointed us down the rocky path and we were off into Dunston Country Park. A quick check of watches showed we were still on course for sub 6 hours so we charged on. The wooded path was cool and I knew the way from here to the end. In no time at all we were racing down the park and towards Swanage Pier area. This was perhaps the hardest stretch of the day. It was heaving!! The mass of people seemed oblivious to anyone moving at more than snail pace. There were toddlers, dogs on,leads, prams, beach paraphernalia making more obstacles than seemed fair. It was a relief to get off the pier without having caused anyone to fall into the harbour. All that remained was the run along the front and up the hill to the church hall. On our reccee yesterday the hill had seemed quite big but today  the steps and headlands we had met dwarfed it and I ran the whole way.  33.5 miles and about 1845m climb. Completed in 5 hours 47.  First lady and 8th overall so I was more than satisfied.  The Dorset LDWA catering was excellent and we were soon refuelled and lying in the sun cheering in the next finishers.

 In place of an ice bath I went for a long and very deep paddle down on the beach, plus the treat of an ice cream.

 I spotted Andy and Sarah on their run along the prom and cheered Bob in on his final 100 metres or so. A grand day out.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

No 43 Exploring from Settle

I had contemplated Duncan's Dales Skyline but thought it might be just a little too long for my mid week jaunt and also I was not sure of some of the route and what the ground was like. Instead I ran from Settle and explored some bits I did not know. Running midweek is fantastic even in August as you see so few people, although I had more chats with farmers today than on any run this year - they must be a friendly bunch in that part of Yorkshire.

We seem to be lucky with the weather at the moment. We ran in sunshine and the dry last weekend, needed a rest Mon/Tues when it rained and were ready to run again today. The forecast said no rain before 4pm and they were correct. It got cooler and duller but we had no rain until we were driving back past Clitheroe. I set off up Constitution Hill and onto the bridleway that would take me above Langcliffe. It would be a day running until the watchful eye of Pen y Gent, or that is how it seemed as every time I looked up or back it was there, looming.

At the end of the bridleway I made brief contact with the fell road before turning off onto the BOAT. It was a bit of a pull up to Jubilee cave and I remember driving up here somewhere for an orienteering event in the past. I did well- only to be told by one of our club that open hillside was easy and it was simply a runners course. Today I had the place to myself and I made good time on the track - it would make a great MTB track and a better route then the one we did in 1989 which stays on the road and then goes over a less rideable fell. There was a big herd of cows with calves but they did not seem interested in me thankfully. It was nice not to have to study the map and to be able to run on steadily to Langscar Gate and then Malham Tarn.

 It was only as I ran through the car park here that I met my first people to say Hi to then suddenly I was on my own again. The NT were repairing a wall at the tarn outlet but the track around the tarn was deserted and so was the field study centre. Towards the bottom of their lane I caught up with some little boys splashing in puddles but then I turned off on to a section of the Pennine Way. I had not been on this bit before and it was a beautiful wide grassy track on a very slight incline. It contoured round to the quiet fell road- through yet more cows. I crossed the road and fouund the path up Fountains Fell- more new territory.

 The views in all directions were superb if a bit hazy. Looking north and east it is so big and empty, amazing. I passed a few walkers and then stopped for a chat with a group that were interested in what I was doing and had done the Fellsman. This was one of the few parts of todays route where I could not see Pen y Gent, well not until the top anyway.

 At the top are a small cluster of rock towers a bit like those on Nine Standards. The next section was a leap of faith as no path was shown on the map. I couldn't believe that there would be no path along the ridge and wall to the trig point on Knowle Hill.
Pen y Gent again- I am blocking Ingleborough!
There was a path of different sorts the whole way. Sometimes wide and boggy, some bits narrow and swamped by heather and then some lovely grassy bits. I had on scarey moment when the bog I trod on bounced like a huge trampoline but I did not break the surface and escaped unscathed. I met a farmer out on his quad bike but nobody else. The trig point seemed a bit battered and grey and the sheep here were strange. I am sure they were talking about me as one would cough and baa, look at me, cough some more and then the next sheep would stare at me before replying. (perhaps I just need to carry more water and food and halucinate less). Leaving the trig pint was a wonderful grassy track and I could not resist racing down it.

 After a kilometre or so I realised it was pulling me SW when I wanted SE but nevermind. I eventually found a way through the wall on what I recognised as our old MTB route. I followed it to almost the edge of the access area and then dropped back to Malham Tarn. I thought I might see Bob at some point and here was likely but our paths never crossed. I aded a short loop out past Street gate before heading back to Langscar gate. I didn't really have a plan from here but knew I did not want to drop to Malham. I picked up the BOAT again but only briefly and then headed across country. This surprised some farmers that were out repairing walls but they were friendly and did not seem to consider I should be on a path. I explored a wierd section of intermitent stream and loads of caves and pot holes on Grizedales and then headed towards Stockdale Lane (yet more of the MTB route). I found even more farmers out mending walls and sussed out the route up Rye Loaf Hill for whenever I do the Skyline route. At the edge of the access area I turned off the tarmac and towards Attermire.

 Here a GPS trace would be hilarious because I went exploring and just ran where it looked interesting.  I also checked out Warrendale Knots and the trig point there. A quick check of my garmin suggested that I needed to run a bit more before descending to Settle si I headed north on grassy paths and then doubled back to the lane at Castleberg plantation.

 I avoided the town centre and headed north for the river and some flat final distance. I know the river path from the Ribbleway challenge and it was a pleasant way to end the day. Just as I was turning back to the car I got a text from Bob. He had just finshed - what perfect timing. A quick feed and drink plus change of shoes and we were homeward bound. 29 miles completed and I am now in single figures! 43/52 ultras completed.  Not that I have promised to stop if I reach 52 before the end of the year but I am determined not to reach the point where I need to do 28 miles on the treadmill like Jon.
Rye Loaf Hill- ready for next time

Sunday, 11 August 2013

No 42 The Long Tour of Bradwell

I did this race for the first time last year and loved it. The route is very varied and does not have too much on road. It has some good running but some real fell too. The bonus this year would be knowing the way and so no need for constant checking of the map or spotting runners up ahead. I persuaded Bob to do the Half Tour and it was nice to have company on the journey. I had hoped to be there early enough to help with the Runfurther flags but Nick already had them up when we arrived. We did though have plenty of time to register, admire the new maps and chat to Chris V, Graham, Andy and others.

Before long it was approaching 9 and we marched off up towards the village and the start line. It was a cooler day than many recently and I even started with a thin thermal on. I was determined to start carefully this year and avoid blowing up before Dirtlow Rake.

 Despite this I was reduced to a walk after less than a mile. My legs felt like lead or perhaps cement and I could not see how I was going to get round this race today. I let this mess with my head and felt very negative about the whole thing. Linda stopped and was even prepared to wait and run with me- such is the friendship between most runners.
Nick and Dick before the start
I told her 'thank you' but not to be daft and plodded on. By CP2 I had been overtaken by many but was starting to feel a bit better. The grassy running to the top of Cave Dale was a delight and I caught some places back. Nick was shifting when I caught him here so doing lots of shorter races for some speed definitely pays off. I slowed on the greasy section but wanted to be sure I arrived in Castleton in one piece. Up Hollowford Lane I got into a better rhythm but still felt I was moving slowly and it was all one heck of an effort.  Just before Edale I caught a bunch, including Sheila who I had met at Dovedale. I made a determined effort to try to stick with them up onto the moor and the Druid's Stone. We did not get the perfect line and had to bash up through some heather but it was not a serious error.

I also caught up with Andy and it was nice to have a chat. Andy is faster than me on descents but I tried to stay with him and we pulled away from the rest of the group. We chatted some more about the ultra series and the OMM as we climbed Backtor and onto the ridge. It was hard work but chatting made it pass more quickly. Lose Hill would be the last climb for a bit and this encouraged me.
The path up Bachtor and runners on the skyline
I tried hard to stay with Andy but he set a blistering pace downhill and I had to let him go. I should have backed off earlier as the effort wasted me and reduced me to a walk again. The section through Aston should be runnable but not for me today. Climbing towards the moor and Winhill I passed Bob on his Half Tour but Andy was now almost out of sight. I plodded on and along the old railtrack passed some more Half Tour runners. Somewhere around this point I got my perspective back and felt bad I had been so grumpy when I passed Bob. Once I left them I was suddenly on my own and running across the fields to Bamford Mill. I knew the next climb was tough but actually it passed quite quickly and I could see runners ahead again so by the time we got to Dennis Knoll car park I was in better spirits. It seemed daft to spoil the day- I told myself to enjoy it or go home, and it worked. I gradually drew closer to the other runners and by Stanage had caught them. We got a few spots of rain and it was considerably cooler than a fortnight ago when the boys climbed- but that was perhaps a good thing. By Upper Burbage I was smiling and the marshalls there were full of praise and enthusiasm. I had never been down the 'eastern' route below Burbage rocks but it is definately the most runnable.  A 'lost' runner came by racing hard to catch up lost places and I used him to up my pace and suddenly I could see Andy up ahead.

Andy climbing out of Edale
The three of us crossed the road to the next CP together. The fast runner shot off- something that he was later to regret, but Andy and I settled into an unspoken paired run, each pulling the other along and upping the overall pace. We picked up the tapes and successfully navigated across Bole Hill. Meeting two runners who had missed the control as we descended boosted our spirits further. As for the guy that shot off earlier we would have shouted him back if he been withiin calling distance- as it was we only met him at the railway line. He had a big climb back up poor chap. We kept up a good pace across the fields and along the riverside to Leadmill bridge and on towards Abney Clough. We ran where we could and generally pushed each other on a bit. Just before CP 16 we were caught by one of the 'lost' runners but not by Graham, so maybe a sneaky win was possible for me. We had agreed if one of us felt strong they should push on. And so I did. Steadily at first through the boggy paths below Abney and then a bit more seriously on the lane onto the moor. A check of my watch showed what I thought was impossible- I could match last years time. I slowed down to let the Mountain Rescue guys past (they had attended and accident with the paragliders) and thought Andy would catch me on the steep final descent. Part way down I checked my watch and realised not only could I match last years time, I could beat it! I ran through the village as fast as tired legs would carry me, dodging tourists and cars, bouyed up by those shouting encouragement. 6 hours 20. A PB by almost 20 minutes. The day was a good lesson in a bit of humility at the start (so what if you can't run as fast as you expected) and  a great lesson in self belief (ie keep going, it will all be OK in the end).

 A big thank you to Andy for running the section from Burbage with me. It was wonderful to be able to relax on the field and recover. I tokk Bob by surprise - he was just thinking about walking out to meet me. Two soups, two teas and some cake plus a goodness shake and I was still not full. I had fuelled mostly on bananas and water on the way round and although I felt I had eaten well it was clearly not enough.

Thanks Bradda dads for a good day out. Two bottles of beer and a dry bag- so good prizes too. Fantastic to see so many smiling faces after good runs or PBs. Well done to Chris V on his 3rd on the Half Tour and to Nick, Andy and others who recorded staggering PBs.