I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now. I’ve mainly entered shorter distance races – only because they have been the closest to me, and the easiest ones to enter. Trog has been sitting on the horizon for a while as a 16 mile bog trot which I knew I could do, but I just didn’t know how easy, or indeed, how hard it was going to be.
We got over to Hayfield in plenty of time, and the carpark was already pretty chocka so we parked on the road and went in the scout hut to register. There was already a good contingent of Glossopdale milling around, some who had done it before, and a number who hadn’t. Trepidation wasn’t quite the right word, but a little bit of concern about the distance was certainly in the air.
The sky was overcast, and race co-ordinators had called for full body cover to be carried, along with a map, compass and whistle, slight changes were made to what we were carrying, and we all looked at the sky with interest to see what it would do. Blue sky in one bit, huge grey and black clouds in another, and Julien praying for rain next to me as I opted for the helly under the vest option rather than just the vest.
Fellrunners are an odd bunch. Standing at the start with half of them wishing for good weather, and half wishing for bad. Its very peculiarly British.
Standing next to Sandra at the start we exchanged mumbled good lucks, and with a barely audible “ready, steady, go” (I’ll never get used to the way fellraces are started- there should be something a little more, I don’t know, dignified, to start what amounts to a few hours of scrambling through bogs… then again, maybe its just about right).
Off we went down the road, past Lynne who was out in force with the camera (and apparently took about 200 photos). I was back from the first bunch, though I could see John down there leading out the pack, Andy was just in front of me, and I knew Chris was somewhere around me as well, so I just tried to chill out and run my own race – there were a few who bundled past, but I figured that it was a 16 mile race, and its no good thinking about speed at the moment, there are still a load more miles to go.
Up the first hill and over the top of Lantern Pike, not too bad, but the sun came out. I was sweating away in my helly, and Chris was just at my side, quite happy in just a vest… I think I may have made a minor wardrobe error… Then down and just trying to keep it real, over to Taiga farm, still relaxing into it, but then- a slight pain in my side- that damn stitch was coming again… I slowed up a little – and carried on over to the road crossing where Lynne had managed to teleport herself for a few photos. A thought of giving up crossed my mind, and was thoroughly expunged as I realised it didn’t hurt THAT much. I could still just about see Andy a hundred yards or so in front of me, so I took pace from him, and climbed the first bit up to Mill Hill.
At this point, the route kind of undulates a bit, and I was finding that I was getting a stitch when going downhill, but it was disappearing as I went up. Hmmm – the spasming diaphragm? Rather than run around with my fist jammed in my ribs all day, and rather than have a pain that feels like someone is poking a spike into my right side, I opted for the more sensible decision of slacking off the pace – not by much, but just a little.
The flagstone section up to the top of Kinder is long. A lot longer than I had anticipated. I was keeping in touch with Andy, though a number of people gradually came up and passed me by. I didn’t want to respond to them, knowing that at the pace I was going, I was still going to hurt a lot toward the end of the race – if I tried to race against them now, before the first third was even over, I would be punished very badly in the last third. So I let them go, and continued at my own pace, up passed the Liberator wreck and onto the top. The wind was beginning to cut in, and I was really quite glad of the helly at this point. There were a couple of drops of rain, but the promised shower never appeared.
I thought we would just follow the path around – which was treacherous enough, but there were a few “short cuts” through peat bog, the scene of my first fall of the day. Back up and at ’em, continuing on.
Strange how your mind wanders at times like this, Kinder edge over to the Downfall is long, and from there over to Edale cross just seems to go on forever. I could see Andy tantalisingly close in front the whole way – along with a couple of other guys, so I just tagged along with them as much as I could – and ended up going over another 4 times, just along the top, once just in front of a group of very leisurely walkers. So I just got up, and carried on as if nothing had happened. Never look back. Thats the key.
It was during this time I started to expound on my theory that fell running is a little like chess… but I think I’ll leave that thought for another day.
I was really starting to feel it as we came off the tops – the strong cross wind had done its job of tiring me out, and I was still very glad of the wardrobe choice, but we were getting to the end of my normal running distance for the past few years. I could feel my muscles wanting to slow down and stop. Going down the hill, now thankfully on grass into the grough below Edale Cross where we cross the river Sett, I had 2 further minor falls, both of which I rolled up from. The hill was fairly easy going, and without really trying or even thinking about it, I overtook about 3 people on the down.
Then the steep hill up to the Shake holes happened. Andy was just in front of me, Chris closing from behind, and I ran out of steam. I think about 7 or 8 people passed me going up that hill. My legs were jellied and my breathing was out of synch. I had a small drink of water which I had on board, but that didn’t really revive me. So I dug in and held on.
By the time I got to the top of the hill, the group that I was in touch with was a way down the path, so I picked up my feet and set off after them. Underfoot was wet ground which was firm, but every 300 metres or so there was a cross stream of peat-bog which you either had to jump over – knackering, or run through – equally knackering.
On I went, down round South Head on the Bridle path – less forgiving under the feet – and another person went passed me. Then down around a quick dogleg and to the main road – across that and up passed the drinks station and on over Peep-o-day.
Julien had warned me about this – its this hill that isn’t actually all that big, but is a killer at the end of the run.
I managed to keep myself “running” all the way up there until the final incline to Big rock at the end. As I went over the crest I did something I never do – I looked back. Lo and behold, Sandra was about 10 metres behind me. I couldn’t summon up enough energy to say hello, so I just carried on. Somewhere along the line I managed to fall over again – faceplanting quite magnificently into the side of the track with Sandra a few paces behind.
Up again and at ’em. I could feel bruises on my knees, my hands and my face. I spat – testing for redness – nope – none. Ah – well, I must at LEAST have a cut on my face making me look like a pirate… I’ll check when I get to the end, after I wash of all the peat that I appear to have accumulated.
Sandra passed me on the up, and was quite a way in front until foxholes clough where my descending technique – think about something completely different to that which you are doing and let your feet do the work – somehow managed to catch her. Down through the mud and the peat, through the wood, and I’m catching someone – I KNOW this must be relatively near the end, I’ve mountain biked around here… but keep the powder dry.
We went down the hill on tarmac, then over the road, and Sandra overtook looking strong. I knew I had to keep pace, so I dug into aerobic levels I wasn’t sure I had to keep pace.
Down the road, Right into the footpath and down some stairs – that were very slippery – Sandra nearly emulating my 7 falls in rather spectacular style, but she held it together, but I overtook her on the lower part of the steps. Along the path and up over the bridge and onto the final green.
|The welcoming commitee|
Now – I have some history with Hayfield Scout green – having finished on it after a 12 hour adventure race a few years back – betting my partner that I could outsprint him to the line – which I did.
So I knew that as soon as I saw green I could let loose, and belt to the line without thinking about the consequences.
|Last ditch sprint to the line|
I sprinted to the line and finished ahead of Sandra and the guy she helped me overtake about 300 metres from the line – I was about 6th or 7th Glossopdale, and they were all standing around the finish cone saying things like “should have run that fast for the other 15 mile, you’d have got a better time then” and other such witticisms.
Final time, 2:19:03, 32nd overall, bruises on my left fibula (lower leg), grazes on left and right shins, grazes on my hands, nothing on my face except windburn – I was really hoping for something bloody there… and really quite tired.
Food and water was provided at the end as well, which was most welcome.
Thanks to all the marshalls around the course, Kinder MRT who were out in force as well, and the organisers, drinks people and those that stopped us from getting hit by cars. Much appreciated.
After my recovery shower, and a quick nap on the floor I’ve had a few more thoughts about the race.
|Peat and blood. Nice combo|
I now know that I need to work on longer races as well as hills… in fact, its long races which have hills in them toward the end that are the killers… and where I lost most of my places. Were I able to get up that hill and still be as fresh to continue at the pace I had been running for the previous few miles, I would have been about 10 places higher up – and about 4 minutes faster.
10th place was only 10 mins in front of me…
So. More training is called for.
See you on the hill.