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.
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|
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|
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|
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.