Thursday, 23 April 2015

The 'new' Calderdale Hike

This event seems to have been a regular fixture as race No2 in Runfurther for the last few years. One thing that I like is that the route changes every 3 years. So despite knowing the area fairly well this was the year for recees, especially as it was all new to Bob. Andy shared his notes from explorations and then we added ours. Nick also went out but mainly getting lost and struggling with what we had written. The middle section would be tricky even without the wind turbine construction site. Fortunately we live fairly close as it took several visits. By race day I knew what all the options were and where I was going.

Another recee
We parked at the cricket ground on Friday night and settled down early to bed in the van in the certainty that we would be woken as the organisers arrived. By 7.30 we were up, fed and had erected banner flags, banners and display boards. Even with registration and kit check it left plenty of time to chat to friends. The weather looked worse than the forecast so I ignored those in shorts and opted for 3/4s and my thicker cag.
Nick CH 2015 02
Thanks to Nick for the photo
 I didn't regret this although it did get warm in the afternoon. Seconds after Linden shouted ‘off you go’ it was chaos. The suggested route went right at the road but a dozen of us turned sharp left.  Andy and I chuckled as we heard to confusion behind us. Bob who was further back said it was comical to watch so many people dithering in the middle of the road. Our route was tricky with steep cobbles and steps that were treacherous in the wet – thank god for the handrail. At the top of the cobbles we met some fast runners ascending from Triangle and I knew our route had been faster. It was now getting warmer- time to stow my cag. We seemed to be flying along and I was anxious that my pace was too fast but I felt fine and even my ribs/intercostals were fine on all but the steepest and rockiest descents. Strange to be doing the whole routre and from the start after basing our recees in Tod and Sladen. After CP2 I thought the field might split again but we seemed to all take the suggested route to Ryeburn Reservoir. By now we were catching and passing many of the walkers who had set off earlier and it was nice to slowly pick people off. The clouds though were gathering and I put my cag back on as the wind and rain started. It was a bit grim on Rishworth Moor with icy rain drilling holes in my forehead but firtunately it did not last long. With relief I dropped to the drainage channel and then even better the dam wall. Sadly the wall ended with a 90 degree turn into the wind- it brought me to a stop. Bob had a lucky escape here when a wave shot over the dam wall and just missed him. People were now settling into their natural pace and race place. Carmine was running well and came past with a cheery wave and we headed off to Windy Hill. I suspected the verge of the A672 would be faster but did not fancy running with the traffic. This allowed Andy to gain 200m and then add 200m. Oh well. Setting off for Blackstone Edge the wind was at a better angle and I tried to pick off runners up ahead. I saw Andy head off west early but I stuck to my plan and watched for the little cairn I had built. A trod took me up gently to the rocks and then a short easy run and I was down on the drainage channel. I was surprised nobody followed me and as I crossed the ditch it was clear I had gained 500m on Andy. We both gained time and saved energy compared to those who went over the top. At the White House I grabbed a sandwich and dropped into Castle Clough. Most runners were sticking to the suggested route but not me. As I left the CP on the canal at Sladen Fold I met half a dozen faster runners coming back to look for the CP; Chris D and Carmen were among them. Andy and I disagreed on the best route for the next bit and he had not caught me up again yet anyway. As I climbed to the moor eating I was surprised that the lost group did not catch me. Instead as I shut the fell-side gate I realised I had almost caught another group. Before I could check who they were or shout they disappeared off left whereas I climbed straight ahead and joined the wind turbine construction road. Not only had the windy and mostly dry weather dried it out they seemed to have steam-rollered it! I could see others floundering across the moor and smiled. I caught the group (Barney, Mike, Irish- but they had dropped Simon)  before Rough Hill and stayed with them for miles.  They were faster than me really but I was determined to keep up.
Recee not race day!
Trough End quickly came and went and we picked a perfect trod to Limers Gate track. Another sandwich and we were off to yet more turbines. I decided it was dry enough to risk the mountain bike area in the woods so we descended together to Cornholme. We split a bit climbing to Mount Cross but their company was great and pulled me on faster than if I had been on my own. The next section was the familiar Haworth Hobble route but although they pulled ahead on the big descent we were almost back together by Lumbutts church. On London Road they pulled ahead again and I tried to imagine elastic from me to them easing me forward. At least there was no ascent of Stoodley Pike today and we were on the home straight. I was on my own as I dropped to the Cragg Vale road and climbed to Hollins Hey Farm but just as I entered the tussocky steep field Chris Davies appeared from behind me. This is not someone I expect to be ahead of in a race but despite nav erros and having no time for a recee he was in good humour. We chatted and pushed on upwards. By Nabb End I suggested he raced on but he was relaxed and sociable and stayed with me even when we met the final road and I was almost begging him to go on alone so I could drop the pace. We ran in to the finish together in 6 hours 43. For him this is likely a PW and he will be faster next year. For me it was a PB and I was very pleased to be first lady.
 Andy appeared shortly afterwards and we were able to sit eating and drinking together before the prize giving.  Food is another thing the Calderdale Hike does well.
I was still talking and eating when Bob finished minutes inside his self imposed 10 hour limit and will now be on the Runfurther leaderboard as V70 with two races under his belt. A good days racing.  It rained as Nick and I took down the flags but nothing could dampen my spirits. Thanks to those I had the fortune to run with – you were good company.

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