He set up inside and I started on the flags. It was an easy job at this race with nice soft flat grass only feet from the van. It would have been even easier if I had remembered the mallet. Fortunately there was an ice hammer in the van, fortunate for me that is but perhaps not for those sleeping nearby! All was organised and proper before the first walkers left at 7. It wasn't long before Nick, Dick and Emma arrived too along with a number of other friends.
|Nick- proud in new vest and RO|
It was good to see Mick P again- although sadly he dnf with a bad stomach. The race route changes every 3 years so this would be the last time on this route. I think I prefer the previous route as this one has at least the last 5 miles on road, mostly down and then with a sting in the tail. I couldn't decide what the weather forecast meant and opted for comfort- long tights and thicker waterproof (possibly because I remember how terribly cold I got on L42 a week ago).
Looking around we were dressed for all seasons- some with even more than me and others in shorts and little more. I made a determined effort not to set off too fast but got sort of dragged along by Pete and others. I knew it would be a hard start and before Steep Lane I was suffering. I backed off quickly and things improved enough for me to overtake Pete before Cragg Vale. Mick C on the other hand was out of sight. I concentrated on getting to Stoodley Pike and reassured myself that it would be one big climb out of the way.I thought I was running down to Lumbutts church at a good pace until a couple of kamikaze blokes shot by. I could see a group of runners ahead and recognised some, perhaps I could wind them in by the main road or the CP at the golf course. I grabbed a sandwich and set off in pursuit.
The answer was almost... I ran from there to Mount Cross on my own and it was quite nice. It probably meant I didn't push as hard as I should but the views as you run along the hillside are superb and I always wonder how many thousand pairs of feet it has taken to wear away the old flag-stones across the moor. As I arrived at the CP I caught sight of the group ahead and it cheered me up. I grabbed a banana and quickly followed them up the road. As we hit the moor I realised they were not running. It was boggy but I didn't care. I was experimenting with my new seal skins (possibly not a wise thing to do in a race) and I had dry feet. It was drier than sometimes, which really isn't saying much.
By the CP at Hoof Stones height I had caught them. Having spent time receeing a good line from here across the moor I was a bit irritated when the RO asked us all to stick to the path or fence line but I did as was asked and reeled in another two runners. I was feeling better and starting to enjoy myself now. There were a few drops of rain but then it stopped. The track at Gorple Gate and on towards Widdop pounded my feet but it wasn't long before we arrived at the CP and another sandwich. I didn't stop and ate as I jogged down the road. I can never figure out which is best: to stop, eat, drink and recover or to keep moving.
I reckon 3-5 minutes at a CP is hard to claw back and so I try to keep moving, especially if I know there is an uphill where I can walk and eat. Heading up Walshaw Dean I could see more runners ahead and realised one was Mick C. I never know which was is quickest here although having watched carefully on the Howarth Hobble and again today I think there is nothing in it. As we left the reservoirs I ran with Mick towards Withins Height.
|Hoof Stones CP|
The flag-stones here extend all the way down the moor now and although I would prefer for them not to be there it does make it an easier run. I had no idea who the runners were ahead but slowly wound one or two in. The girls at the ruin CP were very cheerful and I set off for Tom Sell's seat to meet more friendly faces coming up the path towards me. Dave W gave a cheery hello and so did the families at Bronte bridge. I was slightly worried about finding the trod to cut the corner next and in my panic followed a runner. We had turned off too early and ended up yomping over tussocks and heather losing a few minutes in the process. For the next minor route choice my mind was already set and I knew I was going up the lane and down the fields- anything to avoid the road.
|Flagstones from Walshaw to Withins Heights|
Next is the big track to Top o' Stair. It is hard work so I ate drank and stomped. By the bridge at Grain I had caught the runner and recognised him- we had run this section together on the Hobble too. I am full of admiration as he runs every uphill all the way but then slows and I catch him on the flat or downhill. Just before New Bridge I spotted Helen- she was walking and suffering from a sore pelvis. Sadly she had to pull out, I would never have caught her otherwise. I had a quick cup of tea and another banana before wishing her a quick recovery. The next section to Pecket Well was a bit vague in my head but it all came back to me as I ran. Here I caught Carol and her friend and shouted directions onto the moor. There was no mist and the air shafts were there as a good guide. Againa couple of drops of rain but it came to nothing. I didn't quite get the ideal line but it was OK. A new gate confused me and I descended too early but is wasn't a disaster and only added a coupl of hundred metres. The group of us ran together to Jersusalem Farm. After the short sharp rise at Booth I knew it was down and down for the next few miles. It should be easy but after 34 miles ot so it didn't feel it. Fortunately I had comapny and it motivated me to push on. They gained a few yards on me at the road crossing but it was OK as I had a plan so long as they stuck to the footpath by the railway. They did. So I did a quick about turn and shot along the road. Running with them I would show them the way and where to turn off. Going on my own I had a chance to beat them if I ran hard. This was where I had overtaken Graham last year and that made me smile. I wasn't running hard when I passed Steve F and his dogs but I stoped hard up Styes lane and focused on the chuch. A momentary panic at the top- could I remember the back way in? No, too risky so I ran round and up the driveway. I had hoped for 7 hours but had to be happy with 7.04. It was 14 minutes slower than the last two years but I really enjoyed myself after the first couple of hours. I did beat Carol by a couple of minutes- they had struggled with where to leave the rail/canal path as so many do. I felt OK and wished I had pushed a bit harder earlier. At least we beat the rain that soaked some of the later runners. Nicky S won the ladies and although I was second I was over 40 minutes behind her. I sat drinking numerous cups of tea, eating and chatting. It is what I love about these events, so many friends to talk to. I decided to forgo the unisex shower this year as the van was just outside. Just before 7 we had Nick, Dick and even Andy back too. Andy had set of with the runners but walking to try to allow his stress fracture more time to strengthen its healing. We dropped down to Sowerby bridge for a committee meeting and then back up the hill to take the flags down at about 8.30pm A long day but fortunately not a long drive home.