I arrived nice and early as we park in the nearby factory and walk up. It was warm and dry, blue sky and big clouds. After registration I discovered I would know people after all as I bumped into first Suzanne and then Isaline and Martin. We chatted and ate (yes even pre race at these events) as we waited for the walkers to depart. Not many were left by 9am when the runners set off and some of those would inevitably be doing the shorter route not our 21 miles.
It felt chilly as we waited but I am glad I resisted the urge to put on another layer. By the time we had run through the housing estate, across the park and over the railway line to the canal I was already warm. Last time there seemed to be more runners and I ran chasing Albert, Tony etc so did not need to worry about the route too much. I was hoping I would remember it. The canal was easy and then the old rail track. I didn't remember the lanes but I could see Isaline et al just ahead. I had my tally clipped but ignored the food and water at the CP as my stomach was feeling fragile. It gave me a chance to catch them up again. At Blackrod there was a route change this year due to a closed rail bridge. The rain shower had almost fizzled out so I used my written instructions and yelled for the others to turn back. It was more tarmac and they caught me on Crown Lane in Horwich. Now we were almost back on route as we set off on field paths and lanes to the car park near Rivington Castle. Again for me it was a quick CP stop. There was no marshall at the Castle but we went ther as instructed. I missed a turn, and so did others, but apart from adding a kilometre or so it wasn't serious and we were soon on the big bridleway in the woods above the high school. I was glad of company on the next tricky section but we were now catching walkers anyway. The next section was easy along the old rough road and then over Rivington Pike. A bit of a pull and no marshall but it is the route. I was feeling stronger now and on the stony track from there to Horden Stoops I was pleased to have worn my Hokas. Another quick CP and I spotted Suzanne just ahead- she "couldn't be arsed to go up the Pike". I soon caught her and we ran together to Jepson Gate and then down to the reservoir and along to the road. On the pull up to Healy Nab I got ahead and I knew the way off from orienteering there. I never saw Suzanne again. I had a few moments of doubt on small over grown paths below Healy Nab but it all seemed to fit the description. Again a bit of a glitch at Bibby Farm campsite but I found the? a? footbridge over the motorway and knew I could safely get to Limbrick. I even recognised the last fields before the muddy and slurried path leading to the village and out last CP in the Black Horse car park. I was now totally alone but not bothered. A few paths and tracks before the railway crossing and the canal. I ignored the temptations of a Frederick's ice cream and turned onto the canal. This is not my favourite section and despite the flat easy path I did twice grind to a walk. I was glad of my garmin telling me it was less than two miles, then under 1 mile as this kept me going.Once off the canal it is almost over and I was soon back at the Scout Hut. My certificate says 3 hrs 34 mins but my garmin reads 21.27 miles 3 hours 28. I was very pleased with my pace and although it is not a race as such happy to be first lady back. After copious cups of water and tea I felt able to eat. A big hot pot and then several pieces of apple pie and cream. Yum. We sat chatting as the others finished not many minutes behind me- a referendum and EU free zone! I must have made an effort because driving home was hard and my eyes kept wanting to close. No pics today thanks to the early rain and then me having a race head on.
Sunday was a recovery run. We parked at the Roddlesworth visitor centre and it looked like rain so my first miles were in the woods and down to the reservoir. Perhaps we would get dry enough weather to go up to the Tower and the moor later.
I love these beech woods and there are so many paths to explore and choose from.
I had no real plan but ran towards Abbey village and then doubled back through the woods all the way up towards Slipper Lowe before dropping back to the valley bottom and then climbing again almost to the visitor centre. It was not crowded and ever dog I met was very well behaved and had a friendly owner. Some paths were muddy but the main gravel ones were dry so my feet were damp and my shoes a little muddy but my legs were quite clean. Heading back up I realised I had time to go further and the sky looked more promising.
Time for a trip up the Tower. From Slipper Lowe it is a steady but easy climb up the the crest of the spur and then a wide path all the way to the tower.
I did a nice loop on the moor before spotting Bob up ahead. I chased and caught him in the clough leading back to the car park.
I sat in the van happy with my 11 miles and Bob did another loop in Sunnyhurst Woods. Not a bad mornings effort.