Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A bit more training

The full scale of what I have embarked on this spring is starting to dawn on me. Ultra 1 is out of the way now the Haworth Hobble is run. It was a PW and I don't think the mud was the only thing to blame. Sprinting at Street O is now over for the year so I can concentrate on LDWA events for shorter 25 milers , runs from home and the next ultras to keep improving... I hope. After April with the Calderdale Hike, Lakes 42 and The Fellsman I will either be fit and ready for Hardmoors 200 or knackered.
Last week I charged round the streets of Blackburn in the dark. I collected loads of points but also made my glute sore again. Bad weather then let me do lots of stretches and strengthening. Last weekend I think I started to gain webbed feet. I have never been so wet over a 2 day period. The drive to Slaidburn on Friday evening let us know what the ground would be like. water was spurting up through drains, finding ways up through tarmac, pouring down gardens through garages and down driveways and the river burst its banks in Dunsop Bridge. We slept in the van at Slaidburn hoping the river there would behave. After helping at registration I was then a roving marshal for much of the day.
Graham making good progress over the bogs- they got worse as did the rain
Bowland Knotts area was covered in standing water and huge peaty bogs. I ran around checking on trail markers and ringing a cow bell to help the first runners through the fog. It then cleared but the rain just got heavier. The fell above Croasdale was awash and the event re-routed.  I left the event and ran home from Beacon Fell. I didn't envy the runners who would finish before midnight never-mind the walkers, some of whom were very inexperienced and were hoping to finish by breakfast. The path along the Brock was thick mud and water. The rain just got heavier and by the time I reached the van in Barton I looked like I had been swimming in the river.  Time for a hot shower.
Sunday would be more of the same according to the forecast. It was another LDWA event; the Two Crosses. Tottington is not too far to drive and I know most of the route quite well. This time (unlike Peeler's) I was determined to stick to a steady pace and not worry about sticking with friends.
2015 and we had SUN
The first fields were grim - waterlogged, churned up by horses and with all the manure and slury pushed towards the narrow path to discourage use of the footpath. It was a relief to reach the road at Affetside and then the tracks at Jumbles reservoir. By now Andy F was long gone and so were Albert, Tony and Rowena. It made it easier to just stick to my plan and my pace. I was though with Steve W and this continued from start to the finish; we took turns at leading. Turton Heights was boggy but it always is. The section after the main road was worse and although I should know this area I messed up by not crossing to the wall soon enough (sorry Geoff) and Steve got away. Once on the big track and heading for Tockholes I worked on reeling in Geoff and then Steve.
Cheerful marshals despite the weather
I was confident in the rest of the route and hoped Geoff would not miss the tiny stile as he headed down to Cadshaw.

It took ages to catch Steve as we bog surfed through the woods and then sploshed around the reservoir. I am sure reservoirs are designed with an overspill to prevent floods but this one had not got the message. Most of the path was knee deep in water and some parts deeper. It would have been easy to veer left and end up swimming in deep water. I didn't stay at the CP long but had time for a sandwich and banana and custard (I avoided the trifle as last year running with a tummy full of trifle was dodgy). It wasn't long before we were on our way to Orrel Cotes and as I jogged up the lane I thought I saw Rowena just disappearing. I nearly shouted and perhaps I should have done. Instead I tried to catch her up, if indeed it was her. By the maggot farm I couldn't see her and so perhaps I was mistaken. The moor across to the side of Bull Hill is pretty featureless but I knew the way and there was just enough visibility to be sure. Steve was now tracking me on a parallel trod until he got ahead just before Naughty Corner.

Neither of us stopped here and I was grateful  for the company as we worked our way across to Pilgrims Cross and then Peel Tower.
You couldn't see that far when we were up there! It cleared later in the afternoon.
The ground was wet and boggy but now the rain was heavy and the wind was in our faces. I was getting cold but knew it wasn't far before we dropped off the moor to more sheltered paths. The path into Redisher Woods was saturated and unstable. Skiing down, even in mudclaws, and catching hold of trees was the only hope. I was slow but stayed on my feet. Now I had Steve to chase all over again as we headed through fields to the army access road and then the very boggy path to the golf course. We crossed the road near the church together and all that remained was the old railway track which is now a tarmac cycle path. It was easy running and although I normally dislike the hard surface today it was a joy. I pulled ahead but only a little.  I was happy with 4hrs 49 in those conditions.

Arriving in the hall dripping I was very surprised to be asked where Rowena was. I was sure she was ahead of me. Apparently Albert and Tony had gone faster and she had made several errors. I was not sure where she went awol allowing me to get ahead without seeing her but looking at Strava it seems to have been two small errors after Redisher Woods.

The food looked tempting, very tempting but I needed to change and get dry. Luckily the toilets were spacious and I stripped naked, washed the mud off in the sinks and emerged clean, dry and warm to the delights of the LDWA feast. Two bowls of soup (from the 6 on offer), loads of sandwiches, many cups of tea and a Manchester tart and I was revived. Bob had done the shorter route and so we sat together; along with Josie, Albert, Andy, Mark S and others. Rowena appeared less than 20 minutes after me; a bit frazzled, soaked but OK.

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