Sunday, 19 June 2016

Pennine 39 a whole weekend of fun

Race 5 in the Runfurther series would be a new race for me and should get my four counting races in the series sorted out. Nav4 put this race on last year but for a very small number of mostly close friends. This year we almost filled the free coach that would take us from race HQ to the start; but I get ahead of myself. On Friday we were delayed slightly as selling inflatable kayaks got underway. We arrived at Alston YHA to find the rest of the team already putting up flags and banners.The job was soon complete. We had our tea and sat watching red squirrels as we waited for Joe to return and registration to open. Registration was speedy- collect a plastic bag and your number and go! No kit check and I suspect Joe would laugh if we later found ourselves cold and wet through not carrying the mandatory kit. Alston is only small so we set off for a short walk to a pub. Great start to the weekend catching up with gossip and meeting old friends.
Preparation- Nick Ham
Saturday was a more leisurely start than many ultras as the bus was not leaving until 8am. We ate in the van before moving inside to find Nav4 catering in full swing with porridge, toast, eggs and much more. It was chilly compared to recent weeks and I opted to carry a thicker layer and switched my T shirt for a thin thermal.I was worried about my foot and chose the widest shoes I owned that had a decent grip (I later wished I had chosen ones with more cushioning). I am not a fan of bus starts but the empty roads meant a gentle ride and no nausea today.We could see all the main tops were already free of cloud so the forecast looked like being correct.
Bowlee- Nick Ham
In Bowlee we dashed for the toilets one last time and then made our way across the road to the start. With a typically informal 'OK off you go' we dashed off. Within a 100m or so we were crossing the Tees and joining the big Pennine Way path to head upstream.
Crossing the Tees- Nick Ham
The very gentle gradient made for fast running although Andy R soon let Chris D go and I could not keep up with Andrea. The river gave us wonderful views of rapids but the path dinked in behind trees so we missed High Force itself.
Easy running- Nick Ham
 I had been here in the past but it was years ago and I was praying that I would keep runners in sight and that the PW would be well marked. Half way to CP 1 we crossed the river and did a little loop north before returning to the Tees and a slightly more technical piece of path. Highlight No1 was just around the corner. We contoured below Falcon Clints, turned north through a little gorge and there was Cauldron Snout in all it's splendour.
Cauldron Snout- Nick Ham
A short scramble up rocks where the hand and feet holds seemed designed for taller people than me led us to CP1 below the dam of Cow Green reservoir. At this stage there were three of us running fairly close together and it helped keep the pace up. The farm track to Birkdale passed quickly and then it was the stony miners track up to the red flag marking the edge of the firing range. We had a moments hesitation at the Maize Beck bridge as we saw runners sticking to the big track. We ignored them and followed the PW. It was a shorter route and let us gain the wonderful grassy paths all the way to High Cup Nick.
Near Cauldron Snout- thanks Jim Imber
We had been able to see the rim for a while but approaching from the east always gives a moment of 'Wow!'. No time to stop though Neil had shot ahead and Greg overtook me too. The grassy path led down to Peeping hill and beyond. I concentrated on keeping Greg in my sights and tried to reel him back in.The grass gave way to track and then tarmac as we neared Town Head. I caught Greg, and to surprise Mike S, as we met the Dufton village road sign. A couple of hundred metres  through the village and we arrived at CP1. I had made a determined effort to eat well before getting here to pick up my drop bag so I refilled my water but did not need food. I was able to help a worried Carol set Chris D back on track and to see Andrea heading out through the village when I thought she was way ahead. She was hesitant about the route and when I caught her up we jogged, walked and talked all the way to Knock Old Man. This bit had seemed so easy when our recee started in Dufton but now it was not as runnable as I had hoped. My foot was sore- clearly the cortisone injection had not really helped- and as we reached Green Fell stomach cramp started and I needed a very emergency toilet break. Chris had by now got back on route, thanked me and was off on a mission to make up for lost time. It was nice to see Stuart at the CP and to know the worst of the climb was over. We headed off NW along the ridge with me showing Andrea and Greg the way. I could see Chris up ahead but had no chance of catching him. Great Dun Fell and the golf ball came and went. It was great to be on grassy paths and my foot improved despite the flagstone sections.By Little Dun Fell I needed to stop again! Greg shot by but Andrea was struggling with cramp. I caught him up on the climb to Cross Fell the high point of the day at 893m. No time to loiter and admire the shelter today, instead I quickly shot off down past the first cairns and along a tiny trod that short cut to Greg's Hut and CP4.
Greg's Hut and track- Nick Ham
 I daren't look round in case I tripped but Greg and Andrea could not have been far behind. I barely broke stride at the CP and tried to put distance between me and Andrea. I should have checked the map far more carefully for the next bit. I had convinced myself that we had now cracked it. Ha ha.  The stony track is actually 11km long and it was torture for my foot. I had also not reckoned on any uphill sections no matter how short. The stomach cramp was not continuous and yes, i needed another very urgent stop. Andrea caught me up and ran on ahead. I was frustrated but there was nothing I could do except minimise the gap. Robert had walked up the track to take photos and I must have looked a sorry sight. I prayed he would not have wanted to walk far but it was several km before I reached the bottom. Unusually I was pleased to reach the tarmac and jog through the village to Joe at CP5. I didn't dare eat any more and took tiny sips of water. He reassured me that it was now under 4 miles but to be careful with the nav. The river path was a joy despite tree roots etc and my foot eased a little. Half way back a bridge took us across the river and up through fields away from the river. I checked the map and waymarks carefully and all went well. At one waymark I hesitated and spotted Andrea climbing back up from near the river; not that way then. Only about a mile to go, come on legs get working. I risked one gel and enjoyed the grassy paths.
The stiles! Nick Ham
True the stiles were getting more awkward but the end was in sight. I spotted the cemetery over the wall and then the Runfurther sponsor flags. A few metres and a stack of steps and I was back.
At last- Nick Ham
True I missed the open patio door and went the long way round but hey ho. 37 miles , about 1500m of climb and I was back in 7 hours 4 minutes. Shame not to get under 7 hours but with the foot and stomach issues it was not a bad effort. Now I need to do it again and prove that I can cut 20 minutes off the time so long as the ground is dry and not boggy.
Runfurther chief photographer
The race was over but the event continued.
Bob back in under 10 hours- Happy
We applauded each finisher in, had showers upstairs in the YHA and started making a dent in the Nav4 legendary food spread.
and Dick not far behind
By 7.30 everyone was back and I was ready to eat more and more. Joe knows how to feed runners. Water, juice, crudites and dips, real bread, soup, chilli, lasagne, cake and puddings. Plus pop, wine, beer and hot drinks. We were still eating and drinking beer and wine at close to midnight.
The beer drinkers taking a break
I ran without my camera but Robert took great photos of the runners and Nick had promised to share his (so i might be able to add more later with luck) I took some on my ipad and was able to upload them straight to Runfurther facebook.
Second man and Mike- back from injury
What a brilliant weekend. Great weather, fabulous scenery, great RO and team, good route and very pleasant company.
Andy heading off to a familybirthday

No comments:

Post a Comment