Sunday 16 October 2016

Round Rotherham

So the short answer to my last blog is Yes. Amazing what you can do with a basic level of fitness and one decent run a week. I have a soft spot for RRR 50. It has a friendly RO in Sharon, lovely CP staff, it is well organised and has interesting strip maps thanks to Henry Marston which I think work really well. It is also more scenic than it sounds. There are some grotty bits and I am glad I don't have to live in Tinsley. The rubbish and fly tipping this year were upsetting but then the woods at Elsecar were beautiful, Roche Abbey and the countryside around it are great and many sections are in woods and pleasant if not dramatic countryside.
It was race 11 in the Runfurther series and I had persuaded Bob to go for it. There are 3 starts; walkers/ slower runners at 6am, runners at 7am and relays runners at 8am. The cut offs are generous allowing almost all to complete. many Runfurther runners turned up to improve on their points or to sneak in that important 4th counter for points on the leader board. I had a secret ambition to make my longer counters a full house with 1000 points at all 4.
We drove over the Pennines on Friday and found the M1 at a standstill. We crossed it quickly and parked in Thorpe Hesley. I have only gone wrong in this race once and on the rough scrub land after this village I led Fraser astray. to our embarrassment we got back on track having let about 30 runners get by in the meantime. There was a route change here now and I was keen to check it out. Brilliant- a little more tarmac and then a wide path through the scrub up to the ridge and all of it well signed. There was no way Bob could reccee all of it so he favoured concentrating on the end when it could be dark and when he would be most tired. Next stop Maltby via the delights of Rotherham. I was able to point out Kepple column, the main road where you cross to Grange Park and CP1, the wall and steps at Maltby and where you emerge from the track and cross the road to Micklebring. I then left him to check out how the strip maps worked and to see how muddy the arable fields were between Micklebring and Old Denaby. The navigation went well and he liked the strip maps. The fields were ploughed (but also rolled and planted) and not that muddy at all. We walked the last section from the College back to the river as an out and back at the end of the day. Urban bits can be tricky with so many twists and turns and it is always nice to know when you are nearly there! We met Andy Davis doing the same. He is high up the leader board but needs to stay close to Kevin Hoult to maintain his position.
The now deserted and dead end canal

After a brief committee meeting it was back to the college to put up flags and banners. Nick then drove to his hotel, we retired to the van and left Dick to the fun of the sports hall floor.
Andy had returned home with a cold and Nigel had pulled out with a hamstring injury. I slept well and the rain forecast for overnight never really seemed to happen. Bob was meeting Dick for the early start so I stayed out of the way in bed until he was organised. It was dark for them but the first bit is very straight forward and has many street lights.

Bob knew the danger here would be starting too fast. Before long he let Dick pull ahead. It was the right decision, in more than one way. navigation was not Dick's strong point today! I meanwhile got up, had breakfast and registered. To make sure you don't go off an hour early the runners do not register until after the 6am start. The race now uses Si and this is great with splits, instant results etc. It was also nice to see Steve manning the computer at yet another race this year.
RO Sharon and Steve with the laptop
Henry and I talked about the strip maps and why his aged dibber would not be compatible today. I also chatted with Charlotte, Kevin, Martin and Lydia, Andy, Les, TC,  Sharon and more before heading outside and deciding that I would not need to start in a cag.

As my last blog suggested I had no real idea how the day would pan out. I knew I must not start too fast but I felt fine. I was a bit worried that I was keeping up with Greg for the first 5 miles but there seemed little point slowing just for the sake of it. TC was racing ahead only to reappear behind me- and this continued for much of the day. Before long I realised that I was first lady and I suppose that motivated me to keep up the pace. In the rail yard of the steam train we caught the first of the 6am starters. I wondered how far before I caught Bob or even Dick. In the woods after Elsecar I hestitated at a junction. Runners and walkers were going left. I was sure it was right.... yep, I foolishly followed them. Luckily after 200m I knew it was wrong and quickly led a group back on track but some of the others had gone further and it was a while before we saw them.  The route to Wentworth, across the fields, through Thorpe Hesley and more fields to Scholes all passed without mishap. Unlike the big urban areas these villages are quite picturesque and I guess people commute to Sheffield.
Greg I think
Kepple column is a big local landmark and easy to spot for miles. We pass right next to it before heading down to the main road and CP1. I grabbed two jaffa cakes but sped on. I did have another moment of doubt in the next woods but all was well and I was soon crossing the road to more woods and fields. Somewhere on this next section I passed John Vernon who was mostly walking the course. I was passing walkers and joggers at quite a rate now and even TC popped up behind me again. The path between the warehouses and over the railway is not the most attractive but did not seem too bad today and it was soon over as we continued to the river and then canal path that led us to Tinsley. A bit grim and uphill so I concentrated on picking off slower runners and wondering when I would spot Bob. The mental maths said it should be by now and I was running well? After the Yodel warehouse more runners went astray and had to be called back. The next section is more attractive as the area has been redeveloped with the airport, hotels etc. It has been facinating to watch the transformation of this area over the years and after Catcliffe we run through what was once Orgreave. I always think of the riots, Thatcher and the communities that were hit so hard. The river path is now gravel not mud and houses are being built on the far side. After the river bridge I suddenly was faced with two paths and no runners in sight. Heck, which one. I pulled my strip maps out and once sure continued to the CP where I found Bob refuelling. A quick hello and we parted again, or rather I ran off. We didn't know it but Dick was not far ahead at this point but had decided to totally circumnavigate the lake and only realised his mistake when he saw a CP (the one he had already been to). I settled into a decent but not suicidal pace now and was confident that I knew the way for the next few miles at least.  A very short grot section near the old A57 and then we were on green space to the viaduct and then Rother Valley Country Park. 20 miles done and things were going well. This in the past has been a low point for me so I was quite pleased to run the section by the river and lakes and to make myslef catch the runners in front up the kilometre long access road. The route then moves into arable land but not until we have passed the pretty derelict canal and the luxury home that has now been completed. A few fields and a track led us under the M1 and up over the first real ploughed field to Woodall. It was here that the first relay runners came flying past. I kept my spirits up with the promise of soup at the half way CP at Harthill. The horses in the fields were more sedate than in previous years and relay supporters cheered us in. I had remembered incorrectly- no soup at this CP. I had a sandwhich, cheese biscuits and refilled my water. I was also caught by the next lady- Tara who was running with her dad. It was her first 50 miler. I set off ahead but knew she would catch me up.

The next few fields were ploughed but not too muddy. I did not want to burn up too much energy so decided to run my own race but try to keep her in sight. Luckily her dad was wearing a nice day-glo jacket!

The wind turbines, the grain silo and then the airfield all came and went. I was struggling a bit after the early pace but did not feel it was serious or that I had completely blown up.Before I knew it we were at Turnerwood on the Chesterfield canal. It is a pretty village and one of the houses always puts out drink for us, I was fairly sure I would remember the way through Lindrick golf course but tried to stick with other runners just in case. This is the other spot where Dick went seriously awol. The lane up into Woodsetts seemed steep but a brisk walk meant to pub and CP were soon in sight. Yes- soup at last. I was tired of sweet  stuff and had already eaten half my marmite sandwiches. I caught Tara here but in my haste to leave I forgot to refill my water bottle. Oops. Thankfully it was not too hot and only 5 miles to the next CP. Again I let her pass and pull ahead. Before Langhold Lake I met up with Gary and we cahtted about the LDWA 100 and the demise of the 3 Rings of Shap. Then to my surprise as we entered the park Andy Davis came past with two other runners. I assumed he was miles ahead. The park had been given a make over and looked good. Sadly they had also 'improved' the next track.I was not happy and did not feel that several tonnes of gravel for almost a kilometre was an improvement. Possibly my low point of the race and in fact my splits suggest I slowed a bit here. The paths to Firbeck seemed to take an age and I needed water. I stuffed myself with salty crisps and two cups of tea before heading off out.
Firbeck RAF memorial

The flat fields of the next section were a mental struggle and I was pleased to reach the pretty village of Stone and the fields of Roche Abbey.

We were now on the last page of strip maps and had clocked up over 60km. I was now in countdown mode - 4km to Maltby, 20km to the end. It worked and by Maltby I had caught them again. I had a strange sense of deja vu at the CP. I asked the lady to fill my water bottle to 2/3. She  replied 'so, half way?' No about 2/3. She passed it to me and said was it enough? It was half full. I gave in. This happened two years ago too- obviously fractions are not her strong point. She was though keen to help and pressed me to take food with me.
A lonely trig point
I struggled to get going along the suburban road and lost sight of father and daughter on the grassy farm track and lane into Micklebring. I was then surprised to catch them at the stiles and path under the M18. I chirped up and stuck with them. They stopped and I shot ahead. I ran a bit too fast really but put distance between us and prayed I would not see them again. It did mean I spent much of the last 11km looking over my shoulder and waiting! The path down to Hooton Roberts was the driest I have seen it and this helped me keep running. I couldn't quite run up the lane after the cross roads but settled for a jog walk combo until the metal barrier. A relay runner caught me here and I chased him along and down into Old Denaby. The CP marshalls here were very encouraging and the relay supporters loud as usual. It sped me on my way down Ferry Boat lane and onto the canal.  Only 4km left now , come on legs keep going. There were slower relay teams around me now and that really helped to pull me along. I broke the remainder into tiny 1km pieces and told myself not to lose it now. In Swinton a whole relay team were running with their last leg runners and they spurred me on. I saved their last runner from going astray at the canal and then suddenly we reached the cycle track and the last km. Finally I knew I was safe and ironically I found I could almost sprint (well there are no photos and it felt like a sprint to me). Not the fastest I have completed it but I was pleased to be first lady in 8 hours 34. Julian finished just behind me even though I had not seen him all day.

 After slumping into a chair at download I then settled with TC and others to serious refuelling and chat.

The prize giving for the ladies over I hobbled out to the van to collect shower kit. It was great to be warm and clean and it did revive me a little. I also had a massage.

Then I reckoned it was time to expect Bob. I wandered around outside and it was not long before Nick arrived..... and then Bob.

 He was faster than expected and so chuffed. Even more chuffed to beat Janet (by 50 seconds), to beat Dick and to be 1st MV70. Nick collected his special award for running 10 Round Rotherham races.

We were worried about Dick but her eventually arrived with tales of navigation problems.Yet more food and drink before Nick and I collected all the flags and banners.
A great race with super organisation, CPs and food. Thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment