The little rollercoaster route along the north side of Cringle Moor was familiar from Jon and Shirley's wedding race and we soon found the best way to avoid the tops of Cold Moor. The path just inside the woodland was great and led around the base of Wainstones too.
It did not take us long to get to the road at Clay Bank. Having got there so early Bob decided it would be good to see the next section too so we trotted off up the cobbled way and onto Round Hill and then Blowith Crossing.
A brief stop to eat and we turned round to jog back. It was warm and sunny. Bob stayed on the lower path and I went back over all the tops although I walked every hill.
A good morning of exercise although in retrospect perhaps a little more than is wise the day before a race. After lunch we moved the van round to Cod Beck and the Sheepwash car park ready for race day. I had one slow walk along the nearest fell side but otherwise I spent the day lying in the sun and reading. I think the sun was a mistake as I went to bed and woke up with a headache... too much sun and not enough water. Not the best way to start a race.
The LWW race is unusual in that you estimate your finishing time and are then given a handicap and a start time. If all is well we would all finish before the prize-giving and in quite a narrow window of time. Bob had little to gauge his time on and was off at 5.20am. We had already been woken by an excited school group setting off on the route at midnight so his 4am get up came round rather fast. He was very quiet getting ready and I tried to pretend to still be asleep. I missed their actual start but could not really settle to go back to sleep, plus there was a stream of cars arriving in the car park. After breakfast I wandered down to the lower car park to register and hand over bags to go to the finish. Surprise surprise the man in charge was Roy the ice-cream man (he treated Bob to an ice cream in Whitby on the Princess Challenge run). It was not long before Shelli and friends appeared and then Jon and Shirley. Jon was starting half an hour ahead of me so the challenge was to catch him up. By 8.15 it was already warm and sunny.
The start is along a section of quiet road until you join the Cleveland Way in Clain Woods. I got pulled along too fast but soon backed off and settled to run on my own. I knew this section well and was not worried. By Live Moor I could see some of the faster guys from our group which was nice. The cobbled steps were dry and so I was down at the road by Lord Stones in no time. It seemed early to grab any refreshments so I pushed on.
With only occasional glimpses of the others I ran along the land-slip path and then the woods on my own to the next steps down to the road at Clay Bank.
This time I did stop for drink and some food. I could see Conrad and the others just ahead and so worked hard to reel them in as we climbed towards Blowith.
Perhaps I had tried too hard or perhaps it was the heat but the next section seemed awful to me. The disused rail track should be easy running but the hard track wasn't ideal for my feet and it just seemed to stretch on and on. I tried to concentrate on running and drinking and staying ahead of the group behind me. A supporter told me to 'just follow the track' as it went out of sight and round the next bend. I did and I switched off my brain. I spotted a building on the skyline to my left, ignored it and kept on the rail track. I hit the road but where was the pub and CP? There was nobody to ask so I crossed the road and dropped to the cycle track where a guy fixing his bike told me to go back to the road and turn uphill.
Bugger, I had extended the torture of the rail track by an unnecessary km and now had almost a km of uphill tarmac. I was cross with myself for the wasted effort and for also letting so many people get ahead. I stopped long enough to grab some rice pud but really should have eaten more. I sulked for the next 2km up the road and really struggled to get back running. The little path across the head of Rosedale helped improve my mood and I worked hard to catch the next guys and so have a guide on the next section. After another 2km or so of road we headed off across Glaisdale Moor. It was wet and boggy and the change of terrain was welcome by me at least. I also learnt that Jon was only 8 mins ahead. Being small and light is an advantage over the bogs and I quite enjoyed this section. I arrived at the Hamer CP as Jon was about to leave. The CP staff were busy filling bottles etc and I hassled a bit to be on my way. With my race number clipped and my random kit check completed I set off after Jon. Shelli and some other fast runners stormed past looking strong. The path on this section was tricky for tired legs with narrow sections through the heather and lots of trip stones. I concentrated on sticking with Jon.
We were both struggling and ran in almost silence- not normal. I felt weird. It was almost as if I was not there but was looking down on us both running. I guess the sun over the two days had got to me. Jon sat with Shirley and was refuelling. I grabbed a drink but was struggling to eat so I pushed on. Mark R had turned his ankle badly but was continuing and this made me 'man up' a bit, plus I could see Emma up ahead. Simon Howe came and went but I was not catching the others. At least I knew the way here. I ran down to the level crossing on my own with lizards darting out the way and a small dead adder on the path.
Bob tells me he had melon at Eller Beck but I did not see any. I scoffed a handful of crisps as unusually the arch of my foot seemed to be cramping. There wasn't any food I fancied.
I was slow climbing to Lilla Cross and was running steadily out of energy. Picking off slower runners helped a bit but I was not closing on Emma. I spotted a huge dip up ahead and convinced myself it was the A171 with the next CP. It wasn't, it was Jugger Howe Beck with a big down and up. I met Sarah the taxi organiser here and also Shirley who had come out to see Jon. She told me she had seen Bob at the CP and it was doubtful I would catch him now. I just could not run even when I hit the broken concrete road on the flat moor before the main road. Pathetic. I quickly grabbed water at the CP and ate my last gel, nothing else would go down. It is uphill to the mast but not steep. I should have been able to jog but even here it was jog a bit and then walk a bit. At the mast I had to make a decision - navigate across unknown fields or stick to the road. There was nobody else around so I went by the road. Not my favourite surface and definitely longer but at least I did not need to think. Not sure of my time yet but around 7 hours 20-25 I think. It was a joy to finish and try to sort out my cramping legs and foot. I even got a spot-prize of a chocolate orange along with my goody bag. Bob was made up to have finished before me. If I had not gone wrong and had opted for the fields perhaps we might have finished together! The sun I had been cursing all day made it a pleasure to sit and clap in the next finishers although I kept feeling cold.. more signs of sunstroke perhaps.
Our taxi group gradually congregated and by 5.15 we were ready for the long drive back to Osmotherley.
A strip wash revived us a little and then a pot of coffee, bread and bacon sandwiches started to fill us up. This morning revealed an all time dip in weight so I had two breakfasts, two pots of coffee, bottles of water and my chocolate orange. And that was all before 10.30! I guess we will return to this race and we both estimated our times quite well in the end. Bob could end up with a tougher handicap next time. So, big thanks to Anthony, Roy and the Quakers who have taken this race on and stopped it from disappearing.