Saturday, 20 April 2013

Hartcliff Hill Fell Race

The Glossopdale mid-week championship opened this year on Thursday evening with a short blast around the Penistone Footpath Runners & Athletics Club race, Hartcliff Hill. At 4km long (or not quite!) and only 150m ascent it was going to be on the more pleasant side of tough compare to Herod Farm yesterday. I stood a fair chance of gaining high points, just on the basis of turning up and there not being many other Glossopdale ladies...good tactics, only 3 of us so a minimum of 28 points.

A brilliantly detailed map showing all the different terrain we would encounter.
The evening was chilly, it had been raining in heavy squalls and the sky still looked threatening. Thankfully there wasn't as much wind as last night. Registration was at Langsett Barn and the start a 10 minute easy run away.  We'd been told the ground was wet, but not as bad as last year - epic wetness then I gather. As we wandered over to the start the fields were showing a few decent patches of shoe-sucking mud. I took the direct line point saving shoes as what was to come would no doubt be much worse. There was a delightful shower of hail which fell upon us...character building especially for Caity who was braving the elements in shorts and club vest only.

A few of us did a quick additional warm up along the start track, just to check what was coming up in the first 250m...just a gate, which would be open. Great. Gathering at the start we were ushered further down the track...the usual short speech and thanks for coming on a damp chilly evening and we're off...

I egg on Andy from Glossopdale, cheekily noting I'm about to overtake him (he is a faster runner than me) this apparently spurs him on and I don't see him again til the finish line. Caity has left me too...that was bound to happen given her speed. I'm not sure where Alison is...a glance behind as I gain a little height in the first field and she's behind. I wonder if I can keep it that way? I dig in, keep the legs turning, and ignore my breathing which is once again laboured. I accidentally see my heart rate and it's already 170+bpm. I must change the screens for racing, no way I needed confirmation of what I can feel!

Up across the fields the grass is really rutted from the hooves of cows or horses. Then there's the patches of really sticky calf depth mud that tries to suck your shoes off. My laces are firming holding on my shoes. Good. Up a little more and the angle steepens enough to slow me down. As I pass the mountain rescue/marshalls and turn left I'm walking a few paces, glance back...pick up the feet and start running again. The wind is directly into my face now, and having seen the route map I knew it would be for another 1-1.5km. Just when I need to recover my breathing on the traverse+gentle ascent. Rutted ground and protruding stones also means I can't relax my running, constantly needing to check where feet will land.

John S passes me and says something that's lost in the wind. I reach the short tarmac stretch, turn left and then into the heather. John has long pulled away from me and I'm sandwiched in between 2 other runners. My pace is now dictated by the person in front. I feel I could go faster, but to pass means proper heather bashing. Damn. If I'd known that was coming I could perhaps have pushed a little and got past her earlier. Race tactics are being learnt. I must recce if I can.

I finally reach the summit, the two marshals point me downwards and I spot the little sign saying "it's all downhill now" (or similar words) makes me smile. I've still not got past lady-in-front-of-me. She is definitely holding me up now and though I wouldn't have been much quicker on the muddy slippy steep bit of descent I do feel I could have gone a little faster.

The route opens a little and I pass her. Someone is still behind me. We go through a farm yard and he's still there. Then I almost go wrong, only by the chaps kind words do I get over a stile I'd clearly not seen. Thanks whoever you are, if you'd not shouted to me to go over the stile I would have been temporarily misplaced and definitely off the race route. Ever the gentleman he lets me go over the stile first, then promptly leaves me behind.

Caity and the Ladys winners cake - there were some impressive cakes
The running is easier now. Its downhill and on soft even grass which gives really nicely underfoot. My pace is only tempered by the patches of mud as each wall or stile approaches. Then finally I get a glimpse of the main road which is only a short distance below and parallel to the finish. Phew, nearly there. A quick glance at the watch and I'm still seeing 24:?? minutes....I wonder if sub-25 is possible. Not this time. The final stile and really few short steep steps up on to the final flat 100m just took too long, and disrupted my rhythm enough to put me at a finishing time of 25:30 (by my watch, and later confirmed on the official board results).

I see a few familiar faces from the FRA forum, Stagger and Fleeter - words are exchanged but I may have been a little incoherent in that post-race haze. A quick drink then its the 1km wander back to Langsett Barn with the first lady, Caity, and Alison who came in just after me. Good championship points for all of us, and a cake for winning lady Caity. It was a good turn out by Glossopdale too, good effort from everyone.

Thanks to PFRAC for putting on the race, and also for my spot prize - I think I ran in a time guessed by the race organiser. Whatever, I ended up with a bottle of wine, thank you! I'm pleased I ran this race, even with racing yesterday my legs feel really good. I'm gradually realising its my lungs I need to get working better. Leg strength and overall stamina seem to be doing ok - there's loads of room for improvement, but I know if my lungs worked better I could be faster! No surprises there then!

Just for the record, my gps has recorded 183m of ascent.

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