Sunday, 15 March 2020

Haworth Hobble

Not race 1 in Runfurther this year but race 2. Another change for me was getting up at silly o'clock and driving over on Saturday morning rather than staying there in the van on Friday night. With a short detour to Mellor to collect Kevin we were still in Haworth before registration opened. The flags and banners were up, mint cake delivered and the display boards and spot prizes set out. It seemed quieter than usual but perhaps people were self- isolating in their cars.  Many were discussing race cancelations and interestingly several had hoped this would cancel too! We were due to drive to Dover on Sunday to ski in France and then climb in Spain and I must admit my head was elsewhere as we sat chatting. It was a bit chilly but the forecast was good and certainly not the snow on my last run two years ago.
After congregating at the top of the street we were herded down to the Fleece for the official start line. It didn't seem worth jockeying for position near the front and then having stud marks up your back. True it was slow for 100m but there was plenty of time to spread out.
making my own pace
It was my 11th Hobble and I wondered if I was getting a bit bored with it but after not getting an entry last year it seemed OK.
still smiling
I deliberately started steady but was still keeping John T, Josie and others in site for now. There was no queue at the stile and we were soon on the open moor.  John took his cag off here and caused the weather gods to send some drizzle. I was cautious on the muddy bits and not entirely trusting of my ankle/foot. It had seemed to be improving until a few days ago.
and still- a decent surface for my foot
Top Withens came and went. I was very cautious on the flagstones, especially as we started to descend but twice tweaked my ankle enough for a yelp. Towards the bottom came a bigger tweak and a full on cry out and need to take a moment or two or three. At this early stage I was really thinking I might need to bail at CP1 or perhaps Long Causeway. So many lovely people stopped to check I was OK- well I wasn't but there was nothing they could do about it.
Sportsunday always make me smile
Laura and David from Sportsunday cheered me up a bit as I ran along the reservoir. And as David pointed out "It's turned out nice again." Ironically the climbs were going well as the slower pace meant I could carefully place my foot. The lovely descent towards Hurstwood was torture this year and it was so frustrating. A few more minor yelps.
Hester whose kind words meant a great deal
I didn't dare stop and get comfortable at CP2 and concentrated on trying to claw back some lost time. Strange to be thankful for the tarmac!  I passed Janet who had set off early and focused on the group ahead and the promise of a hot dog once I got through the mus at the farm.
Usually I like the contour across from Mount Cross to above Tod but the mud caused my foot real problems and it was hard work concentrating on minimising the jarring. By the time I passed Andy Ford who had come out to support I must have looked pretty grumpy. I had another serious tweak in the mud by the golf course but luckily the tarmac afterwards gave some respite. I tried to be positive- I had not bailed at CP2, I was over half way now.... there were donuts and whisky waiting at Mankinholes.
not just me fueling on donuts then

Climbing up to Mankinholes I started catching some others and then even overtook a few. More positive vibes. Even better was the climb to Stoodley Pike.

Not running the muddy flats and the gnarly downs meant that my quads were in better shape than usual and the climbs seemed so much easier. I caught and ran with Brian S who was feeling pressure of Hester not far behind. Again I embraced the tarmac drop to Hebden and powered up the hill to Heptonstall. I was gaining places now and reflecting on those articles about negative splits. I had been really worrying about the drop to Horse Bridge but it was better than I hoped even if I was very slow. There I found Albert and the hung-over Toney sat having a picnic.
Albert and Toney at Mankinholes
I know the route well enough to visualise the route and knew we were now on the home straight. The PW that I had been stressing about was still likely but perhaps not by the 45-60 mins I had dreaded. The next section is climb and although I didn't run it all (don't be silly) I did make good time and by the time I could see the last CP was reeling in a couple more runners. I had so much energy on the lane and up onto Walshaw Moor that it was unreal.  True I was a bit slow on the following descent but even there I caught one runner. I must have looked comical when I reached Dave W taking photos on the last gnarly section. My foot was so painful now on anything other than tarmac that I almost cried just looking at the rocky steps. Having been laughed at and abused in true Dave fashion I set off on the next section on a mission. Yep, another one overtaken. From here to the end was all runnable, even with my foot and I reckon I ran almost all of it and certainly more of the ups than I usually manage. Realising that it might not even be a PW also helped. I didn't quite catch the guys on the road climb to Penistone Hill but I was gaining ground and that spurred me on. Quick checks of my watch confirmed I could beat my time from two years ago ( that had been a PW) which for most of the race had seemed impossible.
Winning men

 I arrived in time to eat, drink and see the prize giving. Ken and Kevin had raced each other all the way round but crossed the line together. A recovering Rory was third.
Josie and Kat
Josie and Kat had found each other and finished seconds apart with Kat taking third lady in her first ultra. She said she was shattered but I am not so sure. Brett said there were no V50 women back yet but I was... so 5th F, 1st V50 and a nice bottle of wine. ( I told you the field  was smaller).
Before long I was cheering in Kevin, Nick and others. My ankle was sore but happy not to be on uneven surfaces now. Chats with friends, trying to make sure spot prizes were taken, more donuts and tea before we took the flags down and went off for our committee meeting. The Old Sun was closed  as they had tried to double the landlords rent so we went to the Old Silent where we met him again.
Not a bad day out in the end but my foot now seems to be bu**ered. I wonder whether the next races will happen- the Fellsman has already gone.
Update- went to bed knowing in my heart that our drive to Dover in the morning was not really going to happen. French Government have now closed all ski resorts, travel in France is being limited and travel to and in Spain even worse. Spent a depressing morning emptying the van of ski and climbing gear that has not travelled anywhere. An now the local climbing wall has closed and my foot is so sore I cannot go for a run on the hills.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Drifting into 2020

I have been running, just not as much as I hoped in terms of distances or frequency. I still cannot get my foot to mend properly and although it often seems OK there are some exercises it just won't do at all. So in between the running I have been doing massive litter picks on the flooded sides of our local canal and stream, helping a son to convert a campervan and some bike rides with Bob.
It has also been the second half of our very competitive winter Street O season. I did not have a great run in Lancaster as my legs were still tired from Pendle Way and my route choice was less than optimum. It will be one I discard. Adlington went much better and I was very happy with my route. I got wet and muddy but nothing like those who ventured across the fields in search of points. Won on age adjusted scores so happy with that. Boosted by this I did another street O the very next night. It meant travelling to Warrington so to make the drive worth while I stopped at IKEA first. This was my first trip for many many years and I was very restrained spending less than £25. I did not know the area at all but knew there would be lots of 'new' housing estates. It was just like Buckshaw but on steroids- lots of cul de sac estates, green areas and small woods with paths and all disconcertingly similar. I had quite a good run and despite a couple of minor panics when things didn't quite look as I expected my route was fairly sensible. I did get slightly lost in the NE corner and started running off the map but soon out this right. The map at 1:10,000 was nice and easy to read and I had no issues with traffic as the busy main roads had bridges. Won on age adjusted by a fair margin- they won't be wanting me back again and it's a shame the others in the series have been too far away really.
Sometime around now I also spent a few hours running around our local streets checking control sites for our end of season prize giving event. I am not a fan of urban running but this gives me a sense of purpose and it's amazing how many miles you can clock up, especially when you have to go to every control rather than being selective. Another local run allowed me to check the map and control sites for the schools orienteering event we put on as a qualifier for the Lancs School Games.
As we moved into March there was the last Street O for points in Wigan/ Winstanley. I keep all my old maps and was worried to find I had got lost in an open / park area last time- somewhere to avoid perhaps. Having been warned of a busy road to the east I set off north. I saw nobody after the first 10 minutes or so and while it  was nice to have no distractions it was also very disconcerting. I was happy with my choices and probably had as many options for points as going east, just that they were faster runners! 4th overall but points deflated by a storming Matt D. A huge % of runners were late back- perhaps they went through the dreaded open area? Tonight's prize giving street O is less serious and has a mass start. After a run today I thinking picking a route to avoid the head wind could be vital.
It hasn't all been urban.
More clumsy running- luckily not on race day
 Early February saw me return to the Anglezarke Amble. I run on the area often but have missed the race sometimes as we are away skiing. It's my local LDWA event of about 24-25 miles over all the local hills. Usually it is muddy and the weather can be pretty dire - it is February in Lancashire after all.There are always lots of friends there and this year was no exception. The weather was pretty good! I tried hard not to be dragged along too fast at the start knowing that I would pay for it as the hill got steeper.

First stop is Rivington Pike and then on to Winter Hill with the enormous TV mast.

I was a bit cautious on the drop to the Belmont Road  but my foot is slowly improving. The CP had moved to the end of the lane so no short cut over the gate this year. I had been running with Josie but she bailed to the shorter route now. Then the boggy section as we head over to the Turton-Bolton Road. The tussocky bit under the pylons was not as bad as I remembered and I was soon flying down to the reservoir CP. We were now fairly spread out but I was also caught by Isaline and then Maria and friend. They ran really hard up onto the moor and I thought it would be the last I saw of them.

 Once the gradient eased a little they never really pulled far ahead and by Darwen Tower and Slipper Lowe we were back together again. I grabbed a small amount of food but Isaline stopped for more. The pull up Great Hill was a killer in the mud but the run down the otherside is always good fun.

By White Coppice I had a lead. This meant pressure from there to the finish as Maria and friend were never far behind. Running with Daz helped " Don't let them catch you now". I was tired and said I didn't care, but really I did and so made the effort with constant glances over my shoulder as I ran alongside the last reservoirs and down the lane towards the finish. So first lady i think in 4.30. Happy with that and managed to stay just ahead of the three chasing me. Refuelled with stew, peaches and cups of tea I drove home to more van conversion with Chris.
I nearly missed the 10 Res's inaugral race as I thought it clashed with the Haworth Hobble; it was in fact a week earlier. Glorious weather on Thursday meant I went for a run on Bowland despite my tired legs after Wigan.  It was beautiful and as usual I saw almost nobody.

 I even had a brief sun bathing lunch stop by Langdon Brook.

I wanted to explore the  shooting tracks and link them up with wet quad tracks. I did- but then got carried away and before I knew it I was heading north down to Abbeystead.

Not good as my car was near Oakenclough on Delph Lane. I had promised to be back and thought Bob needed the car so decided to hitch the last few km to save road running. The first car stopped- what a lovely man, taking his huge car out to charge up the battery. Door to door service and an invite to call in for a brew next time I am up there. Sadly the next 10 mins went less well and my car lost power steering making for a very tiring drive home. For this reason I set off for 10 Res's and Saddleworth in the van.  I loved the area when we had the long O before the Runfurther Awards last November and was keen to try the tracks and paths now.
It looked like being a nice day out. There were a few faces I knew but most were strangers. The first few 100m were very steep but then it was fast running down to the reservoirs and along good tracks.  As we climbed towards the head of the next reservoir the track stopped and it was a pathless climb up through heather onto the moor. The boggy top led to the first road crossing and a CP with some supplies. I didn't stop as I had all I needed. The next section should have been great as it was mostly downhill but I have become a real wuss on greasy slabs and so actually lost time to others. Very frustrating. My inov8s grip well in mud but skid on the flagstones. Eventually we hit a wider track and I knew where I was- it was part of the White Rose ultra route climbing to the road where I had the terrible hail storm once. Another CP but again I didn't stop. By now the weather was changing and it was a fierce wind. The climb up Black Hill wasn't too bad and the flagstones here seemed less greasy - or perhaps it was because we were going up now. Towards the top there was some firm snow but not much. The top was what I had expected  more of- boggy moorland and peat. I had one scare in a bog and was stuck for a couple of minutes. I was now suddenly cold, and soaked from the thighs down. I stopped and put cag and gloves on. Chris D caught me here as did another lady. The section down to Crowden was gnarly and not easy for me. we made it even worse with a nav error. Grr. by the CP I just wanted to make up lost time and so forgot about the promise of beer and whisky. I could still see 2nd lady. We climbed over a big lump where I had a control in November and then headed along the good path to Laddow Rocks. As we turned off and steeply uphill here we caught Mark D and 1st lady who had lost her partner. Chris, Mark and I tried to race on the best we could- it was hard work along the big reservoir. Even when we hit the tarmac and downhill it was an effort and both men pulled ahead.  I could still see the lady ahead but thought it unlikely I could catch her. On the last lane I spotted the other lady who had been in the lead. I was actually pleased she had caught me up and we ran down to the finish together. 3rd and first old lady.- a lovely pint glass as my reward.

I knew I needed to get back home to more van work so after a cup of tea and a mug of soup I said my farewells. We all made it closer to 26 miles than 24!

 Sadly I returned to the car to find I had left the lights on and the battery was totally dead. Between them the landlady and Chris D came to my rescue and despite his car being tiny we did get the van started in the end. What a numpty. Sunday was spent marshalling the 'book' CP in Roddlesworth woods for another event.

 It gave me 5 hours on and off to do physio exercises and try to ease my foot which was not happy after my efforts on Saddleworth Moors.

Next up the Hobble. I suspect it will be a suffer fest for me. I think I might be getting a bit bored with it too, so perhaps my last one for a while.