Saturday, 13 February 2016

Back in the UK now

Having arrived back and overcome jet lag plus sorted out a house left in the sole charge of a 23 year old male I decided I better get some running fitness back soon if Haworth Hobble was not going to be even more painful than usual.
I managed to combine a nice easy run on my own under no pressure with a trip around the permanent orienteering course on Beacon Fell. I parked at Brock and set off through all the expensive Landrovers, over the railway line and upstream along the river. It was mild down here with almost no wind. I jogged happily along the river bank admiring the snowdrops and soon arrived at Walmsley Bridge.

From here the ground became more of an issue. It was wet from the recent rain and muddy from the rain of the last few months. I splashed on but wished I had used dry socks as well as normal ones. One thing that I liked in NZ was the lack of dogs. They are not allowed in National Parks or most recreation areas, partly to allow others to enjoy nature without them and partly to protect flightless birds. The first dogs I met today were off their leads and bouncing around exuberantly. The owners shouted repeatedly at them but the dogs just ignored them.They did not bark or growl but they did race around my feet with a real danger of tripping me and I feel I have the right to explore footpaths without this hassle. I said so to the owners. All the other dogs I met were totally under control whether on a lead or not. I have run further up the Brock valley but today I stopped at the mill and turned to Beacon Fell. That I can still find new paths to run on so close to home amazes me. It was a steep pull up through the newly planted trees and much colder up here. The view to the coast was a bit hazy but it was dry and pleasant. I jogged even more slowly round the permanent course checking the posts and making a record of the needle punches en route. The northern woodland is still a joy to run through but some other areas have really suffered from logging and wind damage. The posts were all there and despite some vandalism the punches all worked. I picked a slightly different route back to the mill and then retraced my footsteps. Part of the river path is officially closed but still passable. The floods that affected the Lakes and Pennines had clearly torn away river bank and allowed trees to fall here.
My other attempt to gain running fitness was to enter the Anglezarke Amble. It is always the weekend of Valentines Day and I have missed a few when it was half term and we went skiing but I love this event (it's not a race). It makes a great start to the running calendar and although only 24-25 miles has some good climbs.
So early that I was runner No3
It is home turf so we had a bit of a lie in and only a short drive. It was wonderful to see so many friends again and we had plenty of time to socialise. After two cups of tea and one final loo stop I wandered outside to test the temperature. Yep- cag, gloves and hat for me. The hat would not last long but it was chilly waiting for the final entrants to register and the hall was struggling with the volume. Bob felt his cataract improved eye had settled enough to run and he was doing the slightly shorter variant. Despite the crowds we were still off at about 8am.

 I knew the start would be too fast and a struggle for me and I just let it go and ran when I could. There seemed no point trashing myself at such an early stage and it was really a training run. Andy Ford went on to win in about 3 hr 36, awesome. Josie, Albert and Tony were running well and soon disappeared. I assumed Pete and Dave L were up ahead and I could still see Andy. By the Pike my body had warmed up and was getting more used to the idea of running again. I raced down to the track being careful not to trash my quads. The pull up and over Winter Hill was easier than I thought it would be and I ran most of it spurred on by the chill and a desire to keep Andy in sight. The path leading down to the Belmont -Bolton road is getting even more eroded but I enjoyed the descent and by the fields across the road I had caught Andy. There was no checkpoint at the minor road today and so no bananas. Instead we ploughed on uphill to the top road and the start of the boggy fells. With clear weather there were no navigation issues today and I was overjoyed to see that I had caught Isaline, Dave and Pete. Crossing the main road I ran with Pete for a bit through the mud under the pylons and down to Entwistle reservoir. Again the CP was not where I expected. I grabbled a huge slice of cake and pushed on. It must have been good fuel because that was the last I saw of the Preston Harriers. My legs had now settled down and by not pushing the pace too much they allowed me to run pretty much all the way to Cadshaw and the main road. The sun was now out and I had to pull open my cag and roll the sleeves up. Isaline caught me up and after a chat passed me for a bit. There are two right turns towards the Tower and I took the first. We now know that this is the faster route.

I arrived at Darwen Tower alone and could not find a marshal or a needle-punch. Oh well, on on. I knew now that the worst was over and enjoyed the views of an area I had missed while we were away. The drop down to Slipper Lowe was a pleasant gradient and I knew there would be food. The marshals here were amused that I had spent time looking for one at the Tower (serves me right for not reading this years instructions).

I had a feast here of quiche and cake. By now there were quite a few shorter route walkers and I wondered how Bob was getting on. First though was the not insignificant task of crossing the bog and climbing up Great Hill.

I used walkers to pull me along and was soon at the shelter wall. Pretty much all down hill from here. The path down to Drinkwaters ruin was fairly dry  and the path all the way to the Goyt has been worse in other years. One faster runner caught me here but the others that I had overtaken were not in sight. I dinked in to the cricket ground and decided to have a cup of tea. It is easy to miss this CP through two gates as an out and back and sure enough as I rejoined the path I spotted Isaline. She had missed the gate and was not for going back. can't say I blame her. It was getting a struggle now but only about 3 miles left so man up and get on with it. I used Isaline and walkers to keep me motivated but I did slow to a walk on a couple of deep muddy bits and even along the quarry road for a spell. One last climb up past the reservoir overflow and we were almost back. The last steps and one muddy field and I culd see Isaline would finish a minute ahead of me. Phew. Glad to be back. 4 hrs 40 was not so bad as I had not really run for almost 4 months. Jedburgh was my last race and although  ran Kepler in NZ I was on my own and stopped many times for views and photos. I loved my holiday but it was nice to see our local fells again. (2014 4hrs 38   2013 4hrs 32 so not too bad at all)

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