Sunday, 22 September 2013

No 51 High Peak 40

I have done this race for the last 4 years and now know the way, and what to expect which is maybe not such a good thing. I dread the long road section to Chelmorton and the slippery stones and hard haul up Cave Dale but on the whole it is a lovely and varied route. The marshalls are always great and the whole event seems very friendly.

This year Bob came with me- not to run but to go out for a cycle ride. It was nice to have company and a chauffeur. We slept well outside the school and were able to have a leisurely breakfast. I dashed up to the school to use the toilets and helped Dick and Nick with the Runfurther flags. The forecast was good so it looked like another day of T shirt and shorts. By about 7.45 we were all on our way down to the Broad Walk and park to be ready for the start. I had already met up for a chat with Nick, Dick, Andy plus others. I had banter from other as I ran to the loo and it was good to see at least two Krypton team mates make the start line.
The thermal only stayed on until the outskirts of the town!
I sort of promised myself to set off carefully and must have been good because I ran all the way until the moor. It was nice to leave the tarmac and we soon had damp feet. I much prefer the soft stuff although one guy suffered a fall as his road shoes failed to grip. At this stage I still had Tracey in my sights and she had a strapped ankle.... how we like to dream. Andy was setting a cracking pace and with thoughts of the OMM in a months time I thought I should try to stick with him. The flat of the old rail track and then the path along the reservoirs came and went very quickly. It was misty and we were soaked in a misty drizzle but it wasn't cold. I was struggling to stay with Andy and let him go for a bit. I think the pace was too much and I was soon suffering and even forced to walk on what should have been an easy road section. We had a slight detour onto what was apparently the old route. Andy B from the FRA forum came out of his house to wish us well and we slowed enough to have a chat. I then continued to struggle and Andy R (Splatcher) pulled away again. As we pulled up towards Eccles Pike I could see Andy and others not far ahead but had no way of trying to get back to them. At that CP I was close to calling it a day. Everything hurt and it was still only a little way into the race really. I admired the fantastic barn conversion and had a brief chat with the marshalls before sguffling off again. I was passed by several runners and then Roger and Simon came by. We ran together for a bit and then they too pulled ahead. I tried not to get downhearted but I was suffering. Somewhere around here I realised my camera was getting wet. I stopped and put it away- but then forgot about it for the rest of the day which was a shame. The mist and drizzle thickened as we headed up over Mam Tor and onto the ridge.
Castleton - but not actually today
 I picked up the pace a little and was rewarded by yet another glimpse of Andy. Trying to get back to him kept me going at a reasonable pace all the way down into Castleton. I knew the second lady was just behind me but there was nothing I could do about that. Andy and I plodded up Cave Dale and both admitted we were suffering. At least we were going up the greasy rocks and not down them. Second lady duly passed me- we had a chat before she skipped off into the distance. The field seemed more strung out this year and I ran more on my own. It was about here that I think I left Andy and gained time on a runner up ahead. The run down the lanes and into Tideswell seemed tough despite being mostly downhill and I must have been a sorry sight when I got to the marshalls at the next CP. I do like the next section of the race though- the crags are overhanging, the river is always beside us and the mud is always wet and unavoidable. I felt sorry for the walkers who kept jumping out of the way- presumably not wanting to be splattered with muddy war paint in the way that I was. I looked at the climbers chilling on their bouldering mats with envy but was starting to feel very slightly better. Closing up on a couple of other runners was good psychologically. After the little footbridge I caught one runner and then could see orange T shirt man ahead. Thank God, because that pulled me all the way along the old rail track/ cycle track. I celebrated a narrow escape with a wayward toddler on a bike by having a sit down and some food and drink at the next CP. (something I was to regret when I missed a PB by so little). It meant orange T shirt man got away but I needed the fuel. I had been eating reasonably well all day but still seemed to struggle for energy. We crossed the road and ran up the next boggy section together. I then ploughed on and was boosted by a chat with some lads doing DoE who were well impressed by our efforts. At last the sun was out now and perhaps it lifted my spirits. The next CP was superb with table cloth and all. Sadly it also meant the start of the long road. It wouldn't be so bad if it was not so straight but the drops and climbs seem endless. I did though see a guy up ahead and by running with just a few breaks for power walking I managed to gain on him. A quick glance behind however showed that orange T shirt man was doing even better. At last the turn off to Chelmorton arrived. It seemed to give me renewed energy and I upped the pace through the edge of the village and onto the farm track. I was hoping it was only about 5 miles now which meant that I would not be too far off the 7 hour pace. Then I spied two more runners up ahead and one was definitely Simon. I gave myself the challenge of reeling them in before the turn off into the fields.

 A much hotter day in 2009
I caught Simon long enough for a chat - about how Roger had beasted him and had now gone on ahead. Despite this Simon was still going well and set the pace from here to the end. The stone step stiles and the rocky descent and climb were a torture for tired legs but then we could see the last CP. It looked like 7 hours was going to be a tough ask. It should have been possible with a bit of guts- no ploughed fields this year and no gang of nasty cows blocking the gate. We did pick up the pace and fair raced through the farm and camp site. But by the time we hit the road I was spent. I had 3 minutes to break the 7 hours and it was clearly not going to happen.  The bus stop and turn off onto the grass could not come soon enough. Bob was waiting at the end of the path and it was good to see him. The last run down the road past the van, and another toddler determined to wipe me out, and we were on the school drive at last. 7 hours 4 mins, which was far better than I had hoped for during much of the run.
2011 and also looking worse for wear! Nothing changes.
Simon was over the moon with a PB by almost 90 mins. I was shattered. Today had taken a great deal and at no point had it seemed easy. I did still enjoy the day but what an effort. I staggered to the food and refuelled with pie, soup, tea and cake. Bob was a hero and went down to the van to collect my bag so that I could have a shower, and then he went back again when I realised my trainers were not in the bag! True love from someone who had finished their bike ride before the sun came out in the afternoon. We stood in the sun waiting to cheer in other runners and then Bill appeared to ask us to move inside for the prize giving. 3rd lady and 1st old lady did not seem so bad although Duncan and Stu had times that were amazing. 40 miles with 1175m of climb and yet so much of it makes you feel you should be running faster. ( I will add more photos if I find some, and a map for Helen). Nice also to meet Tracey again, Lisa's husband, John H, Paul and so many more.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

No. 50 YORM (for real)

A new race is always an exciting prospect. Bob was coming to do the half YORM and we had both receed our routes two weeks ago. Even better the rain that hit Preston yesterday had disappeared and although it was cold at 8am by 10 it wasn't. It is fairly local for us so no need for an early get up. We were parked on the all weather pitch in plenty of time and once I had registered and said a few hellos I went out to do my extra miles- about 2.6 of them.
Deserted Haworth even though it was gone 9am
 There were only a few walkers up and about so I just ran where the mood took me and explored up past the museum and out towards Cemetery Road. It was nice to see the town empty- on our recee it was heaving with tourists.
No Japanese tourists today
The race must attract road / trail runners from a fairly big area because there were lots of faces I did not recognise, as well as many that I did. Jon, Sirley and Dave C were there plus Martin G and Graham from Blackburn and Steve Lang who was to have a superb run.
Sadly the last photo until the finish
We congregated outside The Fleece in the sunshine and a rather quiet Haworth. Fortunately a runner asked about the self -clips and we were told they did not exist. I say fortunately because I would have hated to wondr around hunting for them. The first few metres were downhill but that soon changed with the plod up through the car parks and then onto Penistone Hill. I had hoped my warm up miles would help but I was suffering big time and reduced to a walk. Leeshaw reservoir came and I was still struggling and there was nothing to do but plod on and hope it came right eventually (well soon, would be better).  Jon later said he was not far behind me at that point and knew I was not going well. When we reached the culvert I made a more determined effort to move and catch some of those who had overtaken me and by Peat Lane I had. Bits of me were still screaming but overtaking people and others in front getting closer improved my mental state. By Hambleton Lane things were better and I enjoyed the run over the moor and to our first CP at the old Withens Pub. 8 miles done so nearly a third completed. A glance at my watch suggested it was going to be fairly fast, for me, despite the walking early on. The path after Slade Barn was as muddy, boggy and wet as I knew it would be but the run after the top of the moor was great. I could now see the next lady not very far ahead and I thought she might be the only other 'older' lady in front of me. Extra effort along the lane and track allowed me to overtake her as we crossed the fields to what was once the Moorfield Pub. I could also see Martin G and his mate and used them to speed up a bit more. The drop down towards Brookhouse was easy running although my pace died as we headed across the edge of the golf course and the dam of Ogden Reservoir. The tourists gave lots of support which was nice but we were soon on our own again on the old bye-ways and tracks leading to Denholme. Martin and his mate pulled steadily ahead but I then overtook them as they stopped to refuel at the CP.The footpaths around Doe Park Reservoir were a bit overgrown and slippy but it gave me a chance to chat to Kim who recognised me from Hardmoors. She has only been running for a couple of years but was going well and enjoying herself. My plan was to try to not let her get too far ahead. Dolphin Lane was steep and as those I had been with disappeared ahead again I knew I needed to eat. At least I was then able to run after Ryecroft. I think it is perhaps one of my favourite hamlets, and not just because of the elderly couple who gave me water and invited me in to share lunch the other week, but it is really quiet yet close to a decent road and the stone houses have real character. The food worked because by Harden Moor I was starting to move better and catch the people who had disappeared into the distance. As we ran through Hainworth I knew there was only one real climb left, except for the finish in Haworth itself. This always spurs me on no matter what my legs are feeling. The descent near the quarry was less slippy than I remembered and before long we were crossing the main road and heading for the river. The mill with the blue stairs got steadily closer. and we were in Haworth. The cobbles of Butt Lane were too steep to run until the pub but I did jog after that. The last bit up to the Primary school seemed too long and I walked a few paces despite all those clapping and offering support. I could not quite make my  hoped for 4hrs 20 but had to settle for 4hrs 22. Lots had already finished but I did manage first old lady.(V50)
The smile says it all- Bob enjoying the sunshine
Bob had been down to the car to change but I just sat and drank and ate. He had enjoyed his run and only missed 3 hours by 1 minute - so now needs to go back next year.The school playground was a wonderful sun trap and we sat chatting as we waited for the prize giving.

 A good day out at a well organised and well marked race. Buff, armband holder thingy, beer and a T shirt finished it off nicely. Thanks also to Dave and Eileen who were out taking photos- I will be checking their website to collect a couple.

Monday, 2 September 2013

No 49 Hardmoors Princess 30

I am unlikely to do the H30 on 1st of Jan, not because I am hung over but because we are usually away skiing, so this seemed an ideal opportunity. I was confident of the route south from Whitby after the H60 and H110 but was less sure about where to turn at Hayburn Wyke and leaving the cinder track.  Bob had even more to worry about as all the route would be new to him.

We didn't have far to travel to Ravenscar as we had wild camped in a big sheltered lay-by off the main coast road that we remembered from an orienteering event a few years ago. Arriving early meant we had prime position just outside the village hall and plenty of time to have breakfast and get our gear ready.
Yes- OK I was over dressed, but I hate being cold
It felt freezing in the strong wind and I had trouble believing the weather forecast. We had a short jog to check out the best way onto the cinder track going north from the hall and then just mingled and chatted.
Look at all the cags- it wasn't just me feeling the cold!
 Nicky and Kelly were working hard at registration and Flip did a race briefing before we assembled outside. A few more instructions from the roof of the mountain rescue land rover ( the race proceeds were going to them) and we were off. It was a very rapid start but even then there was indecision after a few hundred metres- should we turn off by the sign or stay on the road.

 I followed the leading 3 men as they were confident they knew what they were doing. They then shot off and I ran along the coast path admiring the sea views and wondering if I would spot the place to turn back north at Hayburn Wyke. I stopped to take of my thermal and gloves which allowed Nicky to catch me up. She said she had taped it that morning so I ran on with a bit more confidence. I spotted all the tapes but still missed the pen at the self clip and had to come back. Within minutes we were on the cinder track and heading back to Ravenscar. It was an easy almost imperceptible gradient and smooth but somehow I felt I should be running fast and couldn't match my expectations. I was now worried that running yesterday was not the best preparation for the race. Still even after a couple of guys over-taking me I was still in the top ten and Nicky was not in sight. I found the bridge to leave the track and hit the tarmac back to the hall. This definitely was up hill. I was confused when I entered the hall to be told I was in about 4th place- where had the blokes gone? I try not to spend long at checkpoints as it all adds up to lots of time but just as I was about to leave I spotted Gary and Jon sitting at opposite ends of the hall. A quick Hi and hug for Jon (I don't know Gary well enough yet) and I was on my way. As I headed out I met the others coming back- they had missed the steps and gone beyond the village on the cinder track.
Next CP Robin Hood's Bay
I knew it would not be long before they came past me again but took the time to stop and take a picture. The cinder track undulated a fair bit and took a detour inland around the valley to approach Robin Hoods bay. The slightly soft mud in the shade of the trees was welcome- it was warm now. I mostly ran from CP 2 to the end on my own which was OK but hard to push a good pace. After the RHBay CP the track climbed over the headland and I 'raced' an elderly man on a bike. We were still together as we crossed the A171 and he announced it would be easy now and all downhill. I joking asked about a backy but no luck.  We could see Whitby but it took an age to get there. I had convinced myself that once I reached the viaduct the track ended - wrong. Eventually I came to the steps and descended.
View from the viaduct
The marshalls at CP4 were very friendly and filled my bottle while I had a cup of water. I was soaked in sweat and my shirt had rubbed my back sore. They assured me it was easy to find my way through town so off I trotted. Over the swing bridge, through the narrow pedestrian street full of ambling tourists and to the Abbey steps. I think there are 199 but did not count them.
Sadly they were a great deal more crowded today!
I was tempted to buy an ice-cream at the top but pushed on past the coast guard station and onto the real coast path. It was busy with lots of people walking from the camp sites or doing a loop from Whitby to Robin Hoods bay and back. Almost everyone saw a runner and stepped out of the way. A few asked had I come far. I had company for a short while  but could not keep up and at this stage had run out of water.  The run into the CP was hard work and I was very pleased to get a drink at last. I knew the next section would have some serious steps up and down but that we were now on the home stretch. I nearly got knocked over by a guy tossing his child in the air near Boggle Hole but fortunately two years olds don't weigh much and I was OK. You can see Ravenscar sitting atop the headland and it looks a fierce climb- and it is. I somehow picked up a different path and caught up the guy who had overtaken me earlier. (they have remarked lots of bits along here and added little detours to Alum works etc- nice if you are not racing I am sure).

We had hoped to break 5 hours but in the end I was very content with 5 hours 13 and first lady. It is a good route, although perhaps a bit too runnable for someone who likes a rest and a stomp up a big hill every now and again. After LOTS of refuelling and a strip was in the van I walked out to meet Bob. Jon's mum and dad worked hard all day filling out certificates, taking times and filling endless cups of tea and plates of food. Thank you to both of them.

He had been bought the ice cream that I resisted and had made several new friends during the day. Their companionship and Dave Kremins the sweeper had made him run faster than he thought he could. So another happy, if tired, finisher. Well done. And also to Kelly who achieved her dream and did the H30 with a group that accompanied her and left Dave to sweep the rest of the field.
Still smiling at the finish
At one stage Jon had the mad idea that he would feel good enough to complete the H110 and then come back to Ravenscar to present medals etc. I only wanted to shower and sleep when I did it and in the end that was his choice too. Well done to Jon and Gary for competing their H110.

No 48 Part of H110 with Jon and Gary

Jon wanted to be able to run his H110, which as race organiser is difficult. The original plan was for him to do this Fri-Sat and I had rashly said I would run it with him. It would have been stupid as Bob and I had also entered the Hardmoors Princess 30 on the Sunday ( I had thought that this race was on the Monday but not realised that the Bank Hol Monday was the week earlier- lots of confusion). So the plan now was a weekend on the North York Moors. I would run some of the H110 with Jon and Gary while Bob would move the van and get a walk in to test carrying gear for a MM later in September. Far more sensible really.

We arrived at the top of Sutton Bank in plenty of time and sat having an early lunch, just keeping an eye on the junction in case they arrived early. We looked up to see a car parked opposite - it was Shirley so we had a chat and waited. Shirley and I found we had places in our past in common- it's a small world. The drizzle had stopped but it was quite cool and breezy. Suddenly they appeared running along the verge.

They were moving well and had made quite a fast start. After a quick stop for water they headed off for the White Horse and Shirley and I moved the car to the top of the bank. Bob was now free to move the van to the other side of Great Ayton and go for his walk/run. I was quite nervous about running with them, especially as I did not know Gary. I went for a warm up along the cliff top path and got back just before they appeared. Jon and Gary refuelled and then we were off.  The running was comfortable for me as they had already done a fairly fast 10 miles. I chatted, especially to Gary as I wanted to get to know him, but I was aware that Jon was very quiet. His glutes and thighs were not working as he expected.

I could offer Jon co-codamol and paracetamol but he wanted Ibuprofen. Shirley was at every possible road crossing with camera in hand and an array of food and drink laid out ready. It was a wonderful afternoon with great views in all directions and once we were running it was not cold all afternoon. I jogged along happily but was confused at our pace- my memories of this section from my H110 were of speed and suffering trying to keep up with the blokes around me. But then I was hanging oon for company and help with route finding whereas these two know the way blindfold and had a schedule they were working to.

Jon checked and was happy they were on schedule. It was not long before we dropped into Osmotherly and met Shirley who had acquired Ibuprofen to add to the other food and drink on offer. We ran on at a steady pace, running the flats and downs and walking the ups.

All smiles and laughter now
They showed me where I had gone wrong in the woods on the H110- just one small marker that we missed when we were all too busy chatting. I like the moors of Black Hambleton but the next section from Live Moor onwards is my favourite. The boys were moving better now and I had settled to their pace. By Carlton Bank they were in full banter and silliness mode.  It was like having two teenage boys running with me- silly, naughty, rude and full of good humour.

Jon was mimicking the sheep and both were playfully winding each other up.  I was starting to regret not being able to stay with them for the whole of their adventure- but I guess it was easy to think that when I knew I only had a few more miles to go.  I had the tales of nakedness as we climbed over Wainstones (but thankfully not a replication of their antics) and Shirley could probably hear us a mile off as we descended to Clay Bank. At every road crossing there was Shirley and she even managed to make us cups of tea. Gary was missing his baby boy but got an update by text- second tooth has now arrived.
Jon eating again
 Archie joined us for the next section- again a name I knew but not personally. The track out and back to Blowith Crossing was bone dry now whereas back in May we had been dodging enormous puddles and still getting wet feet.  I had not seen this bit in day light since H55 in the bad weather of 2009 so it was good to soak up the views. With all the banter we arrived their quite quickly although the northward section before the drop to Kildale seemed to take an age.
The shark fin of Rosebury Topping was visible for miles
 Kildale saw an longer refuelling stop and we dug out the head torches ready for later. Archie left us here and we had the company of ray for a while. Gary was to regret the cake which laid so heavily on his stomach and made him feel sick. I texted Bob and asked him to have the kettle on.
Big guys need more fuel than me
Our progress to Cooks Monument was slow and once we entered the trees we needed the torches. Gary was suffering with his stomach but at least at the van we could offer him more water and a cup of tea. I wished them well and climbed into the van as they set off over Newton Moor towards Rosebury Topping. My part was done (over 33 miles in the end) but they had a long long way to go- through the night and well through the next day. It would be tough, especially without the adreneline of a race to boost them. Well done guys and thank you for letting me join some of your adventure.