Sunday, 5 April 2015


No FRA rules here...number on leg!
Yes, you read it right, a Chocathlon race on Easter Saturday. Held in Marsden this race is a fun one, and I thought why the heck not. It was 9km long and had two chocolate feed stations on the way round. Bonus! I managed to recruit five other Glossopdale Harriers to have some running fun too. Meeting up at the start area the four GDH ladies donned their bee costumes, they were going to be warm in the fine weather. Myself and Alan had chosen to run as normal dressed runners. We were joined by Tim, official team photographer and chief supporter of the day.

Flying near the start
I'd looked at the route online and chose trail shoes, to be fair, xtalons would have been better for the mid portion of the race. What I hadn't appreciated was there was a blinking steep climb and descent. Advertised as an easy trail route I'd beg to differ! The first few kilometers were along the canal tow path,
Some great fancy dressed runners
muddy but well suited to trail shoes. Then a bit of road and the first chocolate feed station. I chucked a couple of bars in my bag, knowing I didn't actually need food for the race. Then came the hill, about a 70m ascent up a road but only gaining about 400m.

Wind knocked out of me and Zoe and Alan had pulled well away. As I reached a mast I could see runners heading along a nice hillside - and a bumble bee Zoe charging ahead. Go Girl! I had no idea where my fellow GDHers were behind me, not in sight, but with many twists and turns they could have been right with me.

Zoe is over there somewhere
I'd swapped places with one lass on the canal path a few times and managed to hold on to her along the road, gaining a bit as a we hit the muddy, rocky path more akin to my local running trods. The conditions under foot were muddy, and while my trail shoes coped ok there were a few sideways slides and tentative steps on steeper sections. The path undulated, a few gates, more undulations and then a long section on road. I'd been on my own a bit and started to wonder if I'd gone the wrong way. Then as tired legs from a 21km run on Thursday joined in the fun a few runners gained on me. We reached a very significant right turn....down we go.

I supposed that with all that ascent there'd be a steep down too to regain the canal path. So down we went, slip sliding down a bit on a grassy track. Then no flags? By the time I'd ummed and arrred about which way to go - there was a left or right choice to drop off the hill - there were about eight other runners all scratching their heads. Someone said right so down we went. Onto a road. No signs. More head scratching. It must be left or we'll be at the finish having only done 5km. Left it was.

Alan way ahead on the path
As we made our way past houses we could see other runners higher on the hill. Hmmm. Oh well. Some of us were on the wrong path! After about 700m we were joined by other runners coming down the hill....and we were back on track. The tiny yellow flags marking the route really weren't clear in lots of places and the indication there'd be marshals at key points just wasn't the case. Somewhere in this section I'd lost hold of the lass I kept with on the canal path. Nothing for it but to stick with the group I was with, my legs were heavy by now and my heart rate not recovering even on flat sections. So much for going out for an easy run! Somewhere in the next stretch was another chocolate feed station (a few more bars stashed in my bag, a swig of water) and some very slippy steps which I managed to negotiate safely (there were marshals here).

Approaching the final bend
At about 6km in Alan came past me chatting on about having gone the wrong seemed Zoe was way ahead and had probably gone the right way. Hmmm. Did someone switch a sign around? Alan gradually pulled away from me, I stuck with a couple who seemed about my pace, or at least the pace I could manage. We turned on the course and regained the canal tow path. Now I'd done a recce of the finish earlier, mainly because we were early and were trying to stay warm by moving around. I joined the path at lock number 34 and needed to get to (I think) lock 39. So how far apart were these locks spaced? I had no idea. More mud splashing on the path, a few short rises by each lock. All of it took it out of me and I was reduced to a walking pace a few times just to regain my breathe. I was probably holding around 5:00-5:30min/km pace in places (sometimes a bit quicker) but my heart rate would not come down. Nothing for it but to keep pushing. The end must be soon.

Sure enough, the bridge we had to duck under came, the final rise by the canal and then a slight left and up a section Tim had challenged me to run...I did, reaching the top I expected him to be there with the camera but he was a little further along. I reckoned this last flat stretch was about 400m (I should pay more attention when I do recces!). No-one close enough behind me to require me to keep pushing, but that final stretch-people will be watching consciousness that just kept my legs turning. Straight through the puddles, past Tim, and round the final bend into the finish area. Yey!

Glossopdale Bee's
Chatting about shoe choice at the finish line with Liz, Vicki and Alison
Zoe had indeed secured first lady and won a prize of a large Easter egg, Alan was second Glossopdaler in, me third, followed shortly after by Alison, Vicki and Liz. Well done all! During the run I was way too warm in my jacket - it got tied around my waist after about 2km. A lesson to me, though I do have a strong dislike to being cold. Time to dig out my gilet I think. My gloves stayed on most of the way round, if only to protect my hands should I have fallen. No results up as yet, I think I was provisionally 21st overall. All in all, a super event, and I got a super finishers t-shirt... the start of his cycle ride home

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