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.

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