If we were lucky we would get the best of the weather for the whole weekend. It was raining as I set off but dry once I parked and walked to the hall. This event (not a race) is always very busy and the little hall only just copes.
I registered with plenty of time and avoided the queues I knew would happen later. It was brilliant to catch up with so many friends. I had not seen Steve B and Mick Mac for a while. Nick was there early as always and before long Albert, Josie and Tony arrived.
The fine weather allowed us to spill out onto the lane and wait. It was getting very crowded and stuffy in the hall. We all got our excuses in early. Mick reckons he is getting very slow, Tony has strained his calf and I was very worried how my achilles would cope. What a load of old crocks. The start was typical low key LDWA 'away you go then'.
I know the route so well I can switch off and not worry about route finding. The plod up to the Pike is tough but at least we did not have the blizzard of last year or ice of two years ago. I was slow after Pike Cottage but managed to pull back some places and catch up with Pete and Nick on the descent- not something I expected. I was to leap frog back and for with the same 6-8 people for much of the morning. The moor across to the point where the short course turns off was up to its reputation of wet, boggy and tussocky but the farmer had mowed some of the marsh grass. Mark B and Gordon were out supporting. Pete slowly pulled away and I was not to get close to him for a few miles. The CP at Turton reservoir had not yet boiled the kettle so I made do with a quick sandwich. The others made better time than me on the next lane but I caught them on the climb and we ran together again to Cadshaw farm. The wind was picking up but fortunately seemed to be mostly behind us. The next section is not steep but unrelenting and it was good to have some company to spur me on. Nick and I had decided we were taking the first turning to the Tower. I am never sure whether this is OK or not? but it was slightly less boggy and save a little bit of climb. I took a total face plant as one foot disappeared in the boggy water but still gained on the people that had gone high. I then caught them for a few moments as they were not sure of the way. It wasn't long before the tower came into view and with the wind on our backs.
The CP was just a self clip so I grabbed a chocolate bar from my pack and set off on a very familiar route on the big track over Darwen Moor. I seemed to lose the others at this point although they cannot have been far behind. The CP at Slipper Lowe was very welcome and I stopped for a cup of tea and cake. I was just leaving as the others appeared. The rutted water eroded path up to the Belmont road had been repaired and it was onto the bog fest towards Great Hill. I worked on picking off walkers and runners from the shorter route that had now rejoined us. The wind near the summit was fierce and I was blown off my feet twice and right over once. The wind also caught my contact lens so I was trying to avoid rocks with everything only partly in focus. It was a relief to make it down to Drinkwaters in one piece. I did not linger at White Coppice as the weather was closing in and the next section of path is not my favourite. There were two runners not far behind me now and I tried to use this to keep me going. The mud alongside Anglezarke was as bad as expected but possibly preferable to the road section that follows. Kevin and the other runner caught me up here and then as we made our last climb past the reservoir overflow they pulled away.
A quick glance at my watch confirmed it would be a PW today, although not by too much. I arrived at the hall in 4 38. It was my legs and achilles that had let me down as I was hardly out of breath. Nick and Pete were less than 10 minutes behind. Still, a good day out and we got round before the rain. A long slow refuel and chat followed and then I collected the RF flags from Nick before the short drive home. Hope my achilles forgives me if I sit and ice it while I watch the rugby. It poured down and blew a gale for the rest of the day so God must love fell runners.