Thursday, 24 March 2016

A local run for fun

How often do we tell ourselves "It's just a run for fun, not a race"? In fact this time it was a LDWA challenge event and although they do produce results at this one it is not really considered to be a race by many. Two Crosses starts from Tottington near Bury but moves west across the Pennine Moors to areas I know quite well. I wanted time on my feet and some hills. Plus I was determined to introduce a friend to the joys of LDWA challenge events. We had not pre-entered and so arrived early to make sure we could enter on the day. We were very early, the first to arrive and they were only just set up for business.
The first entrants on the day
We duly filled in forms; 25 mile or long for me and 17 mile or short for John. A cup of tea and some toast settled his nerves and he checked the master map. Then friendly faces started to appear and we got chatting.
Josie, the Sunters and Mark S
By 8am we were herded outside and feeling the chill as we waited for the off. I knew the first few miles would be a struggle and they were. I had raced last weekend, hard at Street O on Wednesday and then again at my first orienteering race for months only yesterday. Before the first road crossing Josie and others pulled ahead and Geoff disappeared for ever. By the end of the first housing estate I was forced to walk a couple of times but I fell in with Steve and we chatted about heavy legs etc. I did seriously consider turning back in the first 2-3 miles as I just could not make my legs work. Fortunately it was a dry sunny day and I wanted to be out on the hills. Affetside and the first cross came and went just as I was starting to think maybe my legs would work if I kept demanding it. The drop down to Jumbles reservoir helped and suddenly we were at Turton Tower.

 The next bit should be easy fast running and I was embarrassingly slow as Lyndsey and Simon jogged past chatting. It was around here that Suzanne caught me up and what a blessing that was. It made me take notice and gave me something to aim for.
It is just a railway bridge!
We chatted and as the miles went by settled into a silent agreement to help each other get round in a reasonable time. Turton Heights were drier than they often are and it felt odd to be going in the opposite direction to normal as we moved onto Anglezarke Amble ground. It was a little swampy getting to the Witton Weavers way and Suzanne joked that she could be home in minutes from there. This was the first place we called back Lyndsey and Simon to stop them going awol. Gradually my legs gave in and made an effort. It was not a fast pace but I was satisfied that I could now enjoy the day and get round before the walkers swallowed me up.
Spot the swamp
I had remembered more food than was available and so quickly downed a gel as we climbed onto Darwen Moor. AS we left the main path and turned right over the tiny stile we were surprised not to be able to see other runners. A few minutes later we saw why. They had missed the turn and we shouted them up to our path.
No more photos after Belmont as I stopped making excuses and started running
We crossed the A666 together but they were moving faster. In the woods at Cadshaw I suddenly got the feeling we had gone wrong. Idiot. We were on the climbers track to the quarry. I dropped through the trees and Suzanne followed. The other two were too far ahead to shout this time and we never saw them again.The flat path around Turton Reservoir should surely be easy but you can see the dam wall for ages and it always seems harder than it should. We both knew there would be a good spread of food in the tent at the next CP. I managed a sandwich, cup of tea and a bowl of trifle. The next bit has some tricky turns but I knew they way. I took it steady for the sake of the trifle until Orrell Close CP and the start of the moor. Reaching the softer ground of the moor seemed to revive me or perhaps it was just the need to escape past the maggot farm asap. Today the route across Bull Hill was well flagged and the visibility was good anyway.We passed the old vehicle stuck in the mire and turned towards Naughty Corner. Twenty miles done but no time for a rewarding whisky today. Off to the Pilgrims Cross taking some friendly dogs with us (they were oblivious to their owners cries to stop). Just as I had been thinking that my foot was coping well thanks to the soft ground it started to hurt. Not badly but enough for me to be worried and to slow me down on the rocky descent after Peel Tower. Peel Tower was heaving with families and walkers enjoying the sunshine and we were catching many people on the shorter race route now. I was now showing Suzanne the way and another guy who came with us so I forced myself to ignore the hurt and keep going. It was possible that we could still finish inside 4 hours 30. It wasn't far now and the fields and path back to Greenmount were soft. The road after the golf course was busy but we made it onto the disused rail track in one piece. This section stretches away into the distance and I could not remember how far. I spotted a mill chimney and prayed it was in the terraced area near the school but sadly no. A quick glance at my watch showed I could equal last years time if I tried.The cycle track was crowded with walkers, cyclists and dogs. I encouraged the other two to run on but they said they couldn't. A friendly runner told us 200m to go so we put on a sprint. Perhaps I could even beat last years' time?Ha, ha more like 400m so we entered the hall in a state of collapse but in 4 hours 16. I was pleased and amazed to be two minutes faster than last year after such a dreadful start. It just goes to show that you should never give up.
Soup, bread and Manchester tart! LDWA rocks!
More importantly John (who had worried about keeping me waiting) was already back, fed and changed. He was 10th and had beaten some friends. and enjoyed running with a friend of mine for some of they way. It was great to see him with a big smile having enjoyed his morning out and now believing that he would enjoy it and could do well.

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