Well, I’ve been waiting for this one to come along for a while. A local race, 5 miles long with 1350ft of ascent. Another midweek counter for the Glossopdale bunch, but with a number of the “big names” away on a jolly to the jolly isles of Rum and Eigg, this was going to be a good one for those still remaining in the citidel that is Glossop, to get out there and steal some useful points.
I didn’t see the route until yesterday, when a photo of a map was put up on fellrunner. It was kind of what I expected, but with a bit of an extra kick. A run up the hill, past Wormstones, on to Harry hut Trig point, turn right, down to the road and over, through a couple of fields, then up a steep kicker of a hill to the top of Herod farm, and a wonderful descent through the farm, then down the track to the end.
That second hill- the kicker. That was the bit that I was a bit concerned about, simply because it was a second hill. I didn’t realise just how much hill there was until I got to it.
|The Glossopdalean gaggle|
We arrived a little later than usual to the race (which had a somewhat unusual 7pm start, which certainly caught one runner out), and there was a gaggle of Glossopdaleans hovering around. Andy made a rare appearance, actually being able to get to this one as its very local, which was going to make my race a little tougher than I anticipated. We wandered around to the starting area, and there were a fair number of runners already buzzing around, warming up, running up and down the flat beginning bit. Lynne and I had just walked over from home, which provided a bit of a blood going around the legs, so I concentrated on stretching out my psoas on both sides, and also my hamstrings, which are still feeling a bit tight from training on Monday.
In hindsight, I should have gone up the track a little ways to see what was in store for us in the first couple of hundred yards, but I managed to keep out of trouble.
After a quick group photocall for Des, and a short verbal description of the route, proceedings were handed over to the time keeper, who proceeded to say …. GO!
agh. Minor anarchy in the pack. Thankfully I was at the front, so I just had clear space to run at- nearly forgot to turn my watch on in all the excitement. And we were running.
The first part of the run was along relatively flat terrain, kind of open, but with a couple of trees and bushes thrown in for good measure. I was somewhere in the top 20 or so, and I saw Charlie hurtling along beside me muttering about being “too far back”. Ah, I should have checked the first bit for pinch points… I bet there is one just ahead. Accelerate, overtake a few people, pinch point 1, a bridge- single file, and the guy behind me is pushing me despite the fact that there is a queue. Some people just don’t get race etiquette. Over the obsticle happily, and then, almost immediately, the second pinch point. Literally a pinch point with one runner at a time fitting through a thin gap-stile. I reached there about 15th, and could see the leaders just accelerating up the hill to the right, so charging on, I followed on.
Up through the wood, out, onto the road a “hi” to Pennine Steve who was marshalling today (props to the guy for doing Snowden at the weekend and coming top 60 or so) and then the first of the stiles. Wierdly there were 2 stiles in very close proximity over the same bit of wall, and everyone was using the Right one, so I launched over the Left one and gained a place.
The hill started.
I’ve done a hill session on the lower part of Wormstones before, but on a different path, so I knew I could keep up a certain level of pace… the key being, could I then tack on another 4 miles on the end… at speed?
A guy with glasses on was in front of me, and I thought I could overtake him quite happily, he glanced over his shoulder, and took off (kind of… took off in the way that you marginally increase speed going up hill and slowly accelerate away from the person behind). But I followed him and we overtook 3 or 4 people, including Charlie and Andy, who I had seen shoot off at the start. The guy in glasses was about 30 metres ahead, and bascially stayed there for the entire climb. Up over the second stile, past the rocks, passing another runner in the meantime. I could see figures strung out in front of me and managed to count the people up the hill- 11? maybe 12?
Wow, thats alright. Lets try for the top ten.
|Me in the white shorts just getting to the first pinch point- just as the leaders have crossed|
Getting toward the top, I was feeling my legs a bit, and glasses man had got a bit more of a lead, but as we crested the trig point I began to stretch out and bounce down the hill with a bit of renewed vigour. By a third of the way down I had caught him, and by two thirds of the way down I had overtaken him. As I did so I heard “aright Tim!”… so I waved vaguely in his direction and carried on, hellbent to get to the bottom. Just needed to stretch out and eke out a bit of a lead over him, but my heartrate monitor was getting loose… damn, there I am, hooning down a hill trying to adjust a glorified bra-strap thing, keep it up, because that second hill is coming up any moment now.
Bottom of the hill, over the stile with a bit too much aggression and nearly fall down the slope into the layby, pointed down the road by Steve (he appears to have teleported here from the last road crossing… I wonder if I’ve found out why he’s so good at fell running….?) down the road, I think I can hear footsteps behind me, left into a field, and a vault over the gate, down, past a herd of bewildered sheep to the bottom of the field, I can see the slope rising above me, with a string of runners… now very much “walkers” hacking up the hill.
I have had bad race experiences on hills like this having lost about 6 places in the Kinder Trog on one, and the same on Mount Famine. Not a good record.
2 gates to vault over, cross a stream and onto the hill. Just keeping it going, all the way up the hill expecting to be overtaken at any moment. I can hear thudding footsteps at the foot of the hill where the chasers are catching up. Keep moving the legs…
The guy in front of me, the only person I care about catching now is zigzagging around, trying to make the gradient less steep for his legs. Even as I take the direct approach, he doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. As for anyone behind, I have no idea. Never look back. They could have sat down for a picnic for all I knew, (it was far more likely that they were gaining on me, but I have no clue).
The hill went on forever. It wasn’t a gradient you could run, but was a walking/crawling hill all the way to the wall, and then fence that we vaulted over at the top. A short section of flat(ter) ground with tussocks making life difficult, and then, a longer ascent up off camber sloping grass. This fell running is a lark, isn’t it?
This was the killer. You do the crazy uphill scramble, think its all over, and then a long and nasty uphill section to the top. All the way, the guy in front continued to be about 100m in front. It was all I could do to keep moving and not walk. Is 10th possible? Can I catch this guy?
I still have no idea whats going on behind me- concentrate on the one in front. Thinking about the hills I’ve run in training, I’ve not once stopped running. If I’ve not stopped in training why should I stop in a race? Is what is training if not practice for actually running a race?
Up to the top, following the flags. painful progress, and then flatness, then blessed descent. He is still 100 metres in front. As it stands now, if we finish like this Im going to be 11th, by about 20-30 seconds. Lets see if we can’t cut that down a little bit. Stretch the legs out, keep going faster, give the guys behind something to chase.
The path cuts up, over another gate, 10 yards down, turn right and over another one, then down. Down a steep bilberry covered slope. Following the flags I can’t see the man I’m chasing, until I reach the real steep part, slipping down, a recovery, and I see he is struggling with going down. Switch off the head and let the legs do it all, I develop a technique for getting over the unstable, but patterned ground in a faster way. By the gate at the bottom I’m right behind him. Vault the gate and run, overtake done, by the time I’m over the gate he is just swinging his second leg over.
Track to the end now, keep it together.
We pass Herod Farm, and the occupant claps us on, I hear a “how far is it mate?” from behind me… honestly, I have no idea. Does it finish at the bottom of the track or half way down? “No idea mate!” I shout back, and lengthen my stride.
The way mu lungs feel I certainly HOPE its halfway up the track, I’m coming close to the red point where I run out of steam.
Pound down the hill, no-one in front to chase, just hammer down and keep away from the footsteps behind.
Halfway down the track the finish appears and I feel like I could actually go on to the bottom. Keeping the speed I dash through the finish line in about 35:10, I think, 10th place, with no-one to be seen behind me for a fair way.
I couldn’t stick around for the prizes unfortunately, but Gwyn, again came 1st, Mark 3rd, and I believe we won the team prize, but I don’t know about that yet. Pretty cool if we have done though.
A successful evening out. Thanks to those organising, marshalling and doing all those good things that keep races like this going.