Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Bullock Smithy Hike

It was the 40th running of this event and we all received a very nice bone china mug to celebrate. It was also the 9th race in the Runfurther calendar this year; important for those of us doing the Grand Slam. After a week of big and high walks in the mountains I thought my body had recovered from the GRP. It hadn't. It turned into a long tough day where at times I struggled to remember this was meant to be fun.

 The race starts at 12 noon, presumably so that we all do some of the route in the dark? We drove down early and met up with Nick to put up banners and flags. It left plenty of time to chat. I had repacked at breakfast as Preston was so cool and cloudy. Now as it was getting warm I was regretting this and later really wished I had kept to my small sack.
George has done all 40 Hikes
At 11.30 we were herded down to the small park where the race starts and lined up to collect our tallies. There was the usual debate about which of 3 different start routes to take.

Initially I felt strong and raced off down the road, over the fields and golf course towards Lyme Park. Julie was supporting at the hotel and I stopped for a brief chat before heading off for Furness Vale.

By the time we crossed Hayfield Road after CP3 I knew I was struggling. Barney and Mike skipped off uphill towards Edale Cross and I plodded on.

 There were plenty of tourists out but I made good time down Jacobs ladder and David W did not get far ahead. Edale village hall at 18 miles was the first food except biscuits or jelly babies. The fruit salad and rice pud went down a treat but although I tried I was struggling to eat any of my own food. The next section was a reverse of the Long Tour of Bradwell- up to Hollins Cross and then down to Castleton.

 I grabbed a sandwich and topped up my bottle. I manage most of the sandwich but it was not enough. Stomping up Cave Dale I did my best not to let David and the others get too far ahead. It was like being on a bit of very old elastic; the gap increased and then I pulled it back again. This continued all the way to Peak Forest. Perhaps I was just pushing too hard and need to accept that I am just not as fast as those guys. It was a real effort and two pieces of an orange and a handful of crisps were not going to fill the gap. I tried a chia bar but didn't manage much really. Somewhere around here I started really resenting the amount of road/tarmac. True most (except the km or so on the A623) were quiet roads but my feet were feeling it and almost the whole section to Millers Dale and Chelmorton and Earl Sterndale and beyond was on tarmac.

 I hung on to the back of the group until the Millers Dale CP. Two cups of soup went down well and I topped up my bottle again. Barney and Mike had gone awol and were also there but not for long. They, David and others pulled ahead on the road and then on the broken road of the limestone way. It was also here that second lady came past. She was running well but taking some strange route options that included sticking to the real roads. Anne Johnson was supporting Bill and still at Chelmorton when I arrived. She kindly offered me her road shoes when I said my feet were trashed. Instead I made do with half a doughnut and pushed on. The weather had been wonderful and the views superb.

The fact I took so few photos shows how hard I was having to try and then how my head was not in the right place. But the evening was beautiful and it kept my spirits up. Thank goodness it wasn't raining.

The CP at Earl Sterndale is next to an unusual pub 'The Quiet Woman'. There wasn't much I fancied so just a bit of fruit and a handful or crisps.We had respite from the road until Dowel Dale and then again through Booth Farm and up to Brand Top. It was getting dark and the temperature was plummeting. I waited a little too long to don my thermal top and gloves and then spent ages trying to warm up.I knew I needed to eat more, that a torq gel and mouthful of chia bar was not enough. I managed a hot dog sausage and half the bun. Nick caught me up here and was clearly enjoying himself and having a good run. He was on for a PB and set of fart powered to Hilltop. In the growing dark he and one other guy pulled ahead and I was on my own. I wasn't worried as I had recceed this bit in the summer but I did have a moment of doubt after Knotbury and then lost the path in a bog before the climb to the A54. I now know there are two ladders up to the road and my torch was aiming at the wrong one. The stony track to Cumberland cottage was every bit as bad as I remembered, although it had been fine on relatively fresh legs on my reccee. This CP gets my award. From over a km away they spotted runners and started up cow bells, klaxons and cheering. A real welcome to a beautiful spot. As with all the CP staff they were kind, positive and encouraging.I knew that from here it was road, canal tow path and cycle track almost all the way back. At least it might be kinder to my toes? but then my skin and achilles started to complain. A different group caught me up on the long pull up Charity Lane and I managed to stay with them until Walker Barn. Nick was just leaving as I arrived but I needed to go in and top up my water. Sadly I could not face the cake on offer. I kept them and torches in sight until Kerridge but then they too pulled away and I was alone again.It was a shame as my route was less than perfect and I lost time in Bollington again. Nick knows a good way down to the canal that would have saved me 10 minutes. Unusually I was pleased to arrive on the canal tow path. I had started to wonder if I could finish or if I did just how long it would take. I power walked with a bit of jogging and arrived at Whiteley Green CP.  I must have looked a state but the 3 guys manning it were very positive and complimentary. One even escorted me to the cycle track on the old railway. Five miles to go. At this rate it felt like it would take me forever. I stomped along the best I could trying hard to run every now and again. I was alone except for a bike that went past. I did even think of asking for a backy! Leaving the cycleway at Coppiceside I was aware of running feet and torches. A whole group appeared. I perked up a little and was pleased to be led along a slight short cut. A few ran off but most were as trashed as me and struggling to keep up the running. The slow slight uphill from the garden centre on the Macclesfield road seemed like a very long 800m and I was wasted when I finished.  Nick didn't quite get his PB but beat me by 14 minutes and finished with David W in 12.20. In the end I was happy not to be further behind! Nigel had a great run in 11.19,  Ian S was second in in 9.35 and the smiley pair  Barney and Mike in 11.27. Bill completed in 11.39 and so gained almost an hour on me in the second half. I think despite all this I was third lady (the results show 2nd but I am sure one is missing).

Picture says it all- but I didn't actually cry
 So the Grand Slam is still on. However, note to self- body needs longer than a fortnight to recover from a big race like GRP. Need to consider whether I do the LDMT and I need fresh legs for Hardmoors 60.

The van has never seemed so welcome. After a meal of egg, bacon and toast washed down with milkshake I staggered that far. Bob boiled me water to wash my face and a bloodied knee and I fell into bed. Prize giving was at 10 so we had a lie in before I had our normal breakfast and then blagged another egg, bacon and toast one.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your report.
    I took a trip over the Macclesfield Forest track to Walkers Barn - gets off the main rod but didn't feel as quick this year.
    For me I had a poor middle third to the race, not sure why, and a good first and last third.
    As with any such long race the more times you do it the more short cuts and route improvements you get to know.
    I spoke to Bob after the race and he went through your packed program for September. I think you should take a rest (a real one) otherwise something will give in a big way!