Sunday, 20 October 2013

No 54 R Round Rotherham 50

Number 52 was meant to be the highlight but it just didn't really happen for me. The last two weekends though have been fab. I knew I would have tired legs with two 50s on two weekends but it actually felt OK. The van drove beautifully to Dearne Valley College (the first time I have driven it more than a few metres) and I parked up still in daylight. I even had time to lay my gear out and have a brew before hot footing it to the pub to meet Nick, Andy, Dick and Mark. Having put them to shame and demolished almost the full plate of a mega stacked burger we discussed ultras and the series. By 9 ish we were back in the car park and putting up the RF flags in the dark.
Andy - my OMM partner this year
 I left Andy and Dick to the sports hall floor and retired to the van. I lazed, read and then slept well- no overhead helicopters this year. I was barely out of bed when the 6am start/ walkers trooped by. It didn't take me long to get organised, eat porridge and register.
Sarah, smiling as always
I was bothered that the sore on my left ankle would rub even though I had taped it and very bothered about my right foot as it had caused me so much iritation last weekend. Soon I was chatting to Andy, Nick, Mark and then Sarah and Andy, Jon and Shirley plus numerous others. Lorraine said Hi and I found John was actually called Fraser!

I decided against a drop bag as I couldn't figure out what to leave in it- I was carrying a spare shirt, over trousers and a cag plus more. I knew there would be food all the way round so I only needed to carry a little extra. By 7am we were gathered outside in the dawn and the flags looked good. It was not cold and we would not really need head torches for the easy first section. The fast pace at the start of this race usually scares me but it seemed OK, although I was bothered to see Dick ahead of me.

 I settled into a steady pace on the cycle track as I had promised myself and got happy when we crossed the blue bridge and hit the gravel path and puddles. I arrived in Elsecar less shattered than I remember from the last three years and was having a good natter with two blokes re Hokas etc. The bit where Fraser and I got lost one year came and went, and I couldn't figure out how the hell we had gone wrong! We passed loads of walkers between Wentworth and Scholes which is always good for morale. Keppler's column looked arther eerie in the mist but it didn't really seem to be raining on us and I felt comfortable.

Then it was a quick run down the main road and into Grange Park. The CP had been moved and we had a bit of a diversion, not sure who called us back but we put it right by running up the pavement (thanks Mr Scot whoever you are for quickly agreeing with me and not dithering). The canal section had been tarmaced and then we hit Tinsley. This has to be the low point from an aesthetics pont of view! I had another little 'lift' as some guys in front had gone slightly wrong and we caught them up just before crossing under the M1. The next section is all redeveloped although the old steps under the railway and Sheffield Parway were a bit slippy.  I hit the reclaimed land at Carcliffe feeling fine, in contrast to a couple of years ago where  my hips locked up and I felt dreadful. Suddenly there was CP2 and more food. I tracked my Scotsman relentlessly (thank you) and managed to run the whole way through to the joinery and the viaduct. We then stayed together through Rother Valley Country Park and towards Norwood. We both slowed to cross the stiles and cursed our age and what stiles did to break our stride pattern.  Then it was a quick run under the M1 again and into the CP at Harthill. It is a nice downhill run in to this CP and there are always lots of relay runners waiting for the change over. I stopped, refreshed and even went to the loo. I was here in under 4 hours and tried not to panic that this was far too fast. The next section would see the first of the muddy fields. The wind turbines poked out of the mist and the fields were a bit muddy but not at all bad and my Fellraisers gripped well (unlike on the slimy concrete earlier). We now had comapny in form of a mountain biker, it was good to have him show us the way and it looked no easier on a bike. Suddenly we had passed the airfield and were heading for the canal, over the railtracks, across the golf course and on into Woodsetts. Here I passed Martin D and his Mrs. having her first go at this race. I was bouyed up by the idea of a cup of tea and soup. They certainly know how to feed you on this race and after surviving, or not, on gels last weekend I was determined to take every advantage. I was a bit bothered that I was going too fast still but decided to keep going whilst I could and worry about that later. It was hard getting going after a sit down and food but I knew the soup and sandwiches would be a good idea in the long run. I hadn't been able to picture the next bit in my head but as I ran along it all came back and I knew it was only about 10km to the Firbeck CP. More relay runners ran by shouting encouragement and although I slowed for a bit I could now see Roche Abbey.

 This is one of the most scenic parts of the race and also means that on the strip maps you turn to the last page! I was now on my own but quite content and running at a steady pace. I was confident that I knew the way and that Maltby was not far. I declined refreshments here, perhaps a mistake but popping in to every hall adds several minues. 5 CPs and 5 minutes in each..... it all adds up. I did have a bit of a walk as I climbed out of Maltby but a bite to eat and some banter from some local rogues got me running again. Another relay lady ran by and I tried to keep her in my sight. After Micklebring I was slightly anxious about the route across the open fields but it was fine and the muddy footprints helped, as did the bright flourecsen tops of the relays runners. The rutted stoney track down to Hooton Roberts was no where near as bad as I remembered and I even overtook a relay runner here. Some mud yes but not the stream we had found previously. I did walk some of the lane after the road junction but ran once I reached the fields and descent to Old Denaby. Having been in the lead all day I had now spent a fair bit of time on my own and my motivation was a determination not to be caught at this stage. I grabbed a little to eat at the last CP and hobbled off towards the railway and canal. I heard various trains hooting but managed to reach the level crossing between two slow trains and just before the express. Being 'sandwiched' between relay ladies really helped on this last bit along the canal and river. I tried to stay ahead and then when that failed I tried to tag on. Once I had decsended the steps into Swinton I could smell the finish. The last bit along the canal, through the park, over the road... a bit of confusion as they have now paved the next bit so no wandering around bushes looking for bits of tape... and only 1km to go. It felt like I was sprinting (bet it didn't look that way) and there it was the flags, the sports hall and the tapes leading us off the cycle path and into the finish. 8 hours 21.

A PB by almost 10 minutes, first lady and 17th overall. I was very happy despite throbbing toes and right foot. I should have stuck to my original plan and made this No52! I staggered into the hall and ate. I could have eaten the shpeherds pie 3 times over and did have several cups of tea. Then 2nd lady and Emma in 3rd arrived.

 We did our prize giving and I made the trek to the van to collect my gear for a shower. In the meantime Nick, Jon, Andy and Dave C had all finished so I had a chat with them in the sunshine. The shower revived me, apart for the yelps as the water stung my rub patches!. I wandered back to the hall for a chat but knew I had to leave soon if I was to feel up to driving home. The torrential rain on the M62 was a bit scary but I made it home in about 2 hours. A great day out, and it might not sound tempting but RRR is great.

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