Sunday, 20 May 2018

Lantern Pike Dash fell race 2018

With four weeks until the Trail Marathon Wales my training is going fairly well, so why not do a 2km fell race!!! Perfect prep you'd say....not. I decided it might be a good idea to add on a bit of distance so ran from Glossop to the race - 11km on the route we took.

Leaving Glossop via Wormstones

I was joined by Mark and Zoe - fellow Glossopdale Harriers - and we set off from Glossop at 8.15am. More than enough time to have an easy saunter over the moors to Little Hayfield. The temperature was so warm as I left home at 8am that only a running vest was necessary....and sunglasses plus plenty of water.
Me, Mark and Zoe at Harry Hut trig
Descending down to Little Hayfield

We reached the Lantern Pike pub with around an hour to race start so sat on the grass drying out sweaty tops, airing feet and socialising with the other runners arriving for this lung busting race.  Lots of Glossopdale Harriers were soon gathered - this being a club champs counter. 21 adults and 5 juniors ran, what a superb turn out.

Soon enough we were on the start line and me and Mandy had paired up again to see if we could beat last years time. The usual fast start happened down the first field, me and Mandy just sauntering down soon caught up with everyone at the fence. Over the river we go then it's the uphill battle. Sadly Mandy's legs weren't cooperating so we parted ways around half way up and I continued to the summit.

It was hard going. I knew I wouldn't catch the runners ahead given the state of my lungs (asthma has flared up) so just settled in to my own pace and cheering on other runners already on their way back down the stupidly steep slope.

Just the final field to climb back to the finish line...thanks Elanor Swan for the photo

The joy of fell running races is that no matter where you are there are cheery marshals and other runners to encourage you, and no pressure to do more than you can. So me being miles off the back of everyone else didn't worry me, I just dug in and did my best.

I ended up finishing last in 25 minutes 35 seconds -  beating last years time by over 4 minutes so I'm pleased with that, especially given the condition of my lungs at the moment (walking up the stairs at home this morning had me out of breath!). The post-race banter was as good as always and Glossopdale Harriers bagged a fair few prizes - both adults and juniors running well on such a hot day.

That's the 'little' hill behind me that I 'ran' up and down!!! Lantern Pike in glorious sunshine

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Stride Through the Woods 5km trail race

I hadn't planned to run this. Then a week or so ago I pondered entering. Then I forgot. Then a club mate was forced to drop out so I thought 'Why not!' and grabbed the place. At 5km long and a counter in our Glossopdale Harriers club championships it would be silly not to run.

Jo drove over (thanks for the lift) with myself, Rachel and Charm to somewhere near Hyde where I filled in a form and got given a number. Race ready!  The 4 of us took ourselves out for a warm up around the first bit of the course - which is an odd shape of 2 out-loop and backs, before repeating the whole lap again. Only one bit of climb really, and about 80m ascent overall so shouldn't be a problem for us fell runners!
Jo, me, Charm and Rachel

The junior race was first and blimey did they shoot off from the starting line. I think their race was about a mile so it was a full on blast from the start. Great to see the young runners inspiring us adults.

7.30pm and we are on the starting line. Wishing each other a good race we are counted down and we're off! I was clearly way too far forward in the start crowd and quickly got passed by loads of runners. No problem on the wide track so I just stuck to my pace and ran.

on the start line
The route follows a lovely dirt tract (I imagine it would be a quagmire if wet), mostly under trees and for some part following a river. With the first loop done it was a downhill section and I'm pleased not to be right at the back. I was running on tired legs (20km yesterday and 7km at lunchtime) so really wasn't aiming to push the pace.

Then came the flat section in the middle before turning up a grassy section (mind the ditch and the brambles), a few steps up to a canal then sharp turn back down the grassy bit and over a stream, right turn and back along the flat to the start. All set for the second loop. The course gives you loads of chances to see fellow club mates so I was cheerily shouting support as we passed each other, and thanking the marshals (no small task standing amongst the midges for an hour or so).

The second lap felt a little easier, legs warmed up but lungs really struggling (more on this in a different blog). I manage to overtake a couple of guys on the grassy section just by stretching out my legs. Then, the final stretch and I have someone right on my way they were getting past me so with a little push I manage to eek out a few metres, then a few more. The heavy footfall and breathing behind me quietens and I'm turning up to the finish line. Wow that hurt!!!

But I did it, and surprised myself with finishing in around 28 minutes. Really pleased with the time given lungs, leg tiredness and not really wanting to 'race' the race. No official results out yet but the finish position doesn't matter. I got out and moved, had a great time with club mates and was treated to mini satsumas on the finish line and a superb sense of accomplishment.

Team Glossopdale Harriers (those we could gather!). Photo thanks to Nick Ham

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Cake Race

Who can resist a fell race that's called The Cake Race?!

Organised by Saddleworth Runners this 10mile fell race has 1700ft of elevation gain and is billed as "An interesting moorland course with as much cake as you like to eat at the end. Who could ask for more?" Indeed! Even better, it was in our running club champs so I joined a merry gang of Glossopdale Harriers and made our way over to Diggle for the race on Saturday 5th May.

It turned out to be a gloriously sunny and hot day and kit requirements down to a bare minimum meant I was probably a bit slack on the amount of water I carried. I had just enough with me to get me round with a very welcome top up from a marshal!

The route climbs up a horribly cobbly stony path for a good few kilometres before joining the Pennine Way - and the delightful (not) flag stones over to the Wessenden valley. I had been leap-frogging a bit with fellow Glossopdale runner Jo for a while and as we gained the flags we had that silent understanding that we had chosen to run together.

 With no shade the heat was unrelenting as we made our way steadily across the open moorland. Not much breeze to cool us down so the reservoirs we passed were looking mightily tempting. Another harrier was close by, Marie, and the three of us were pretty much together as we got to the check point at the weir crossing. Marie took the lead and stayed there for the remainder of the race. Jo and I stayed together but on the downhill section on the track heading to Marsden I was flagging in the heat. I urged Jo to pull ahead which she did gradually.

On the steep steps down the side of the dam wall of Butterley Reservoir Jo was more or less at the bottom as I started my way down. I carefully took my time on the uneven steep steps, not wanting to trip. At the bottom I was surprised by no marshal or flags and only by chance some walkers guided me in the right direction (the RO agreed after there should have been marshal and/or flags there).

Next up came the horrible steep step ascent to join a small footpath around the cricket ground and golf course (all on private land but arranged by RO for special permission for the race to go ahead). I was pleased to be able to walk all the way up - believe me they were steep and went on for quite a while, 150+ steps I reckon.  At the top the path undulated and I ran on where I could, gaining a few places.

The route took a sharp left over a stile and into trees. As I waited for 2 other runners to get over the stile I looked around and could see a flag immediately right. The 2 runners wrongly went straight on, dropping down where they didn't need to. I overtook them by sheer luck and weaved my way through the trees. a short climb up to just touch a road (fill water bottle from marshal) then sharp left and back onto moorland. Marie was still fairly close and I had just caught Jo up here...we chatted and nudged each other along as the climb gradually eased onto the open moorland once more.

After not too long we were at the point we had turned right onto the flags about an hour earlier....but now we were only 2-3km from the end and perhaps a sub 2hr finish would be possible so I pushed us on a bit, trying to run more than walk, and only walk just enough to recover before picking up the pace.  At the summit we both downed the rest of our point keeping it back now as we'd be finished soon.

I opened up my legs a little as we lost height - knowing that further down the path turns to a stony rutted mess where I'd need more concentration. Jo and me are side by side virtually and we let ourselves enjoy the feeling that it'll be over soon!!!

At some point we both wondered where the finish line important point to know and one we didn't have the answer to. Nothing for it but to push and hope we'd get the sub 2hrs I really really wanted.  A mile or so later we rounded a corner and some spectators and runners who'd finished appeared....yey, the finish line was just there. I think we both put a 'sprint' on for the finish, with Jo finishing about one second ahead of me.

Phew! Downing a few cups of water I'm told the prize giving is happening in like 5 mins and Tim has finished in 2nd place....scuttling down the road to Kilngreen Church where the race HQ was I meet Tim and sure enough he had come in 2nd. Brilliant. He gets a prize and I'm more than happy finishing in 1hr 53mins and 32seconds. 38th female out of 81 and 11th/19 in my age category. Full results here.

Prize giving came a little later, giving us plenty of time to raid the cake tables and replenish our energy stores!!! This is such a good race, if you bring a homemade cake you get your entry fee back (which I spent on buying other peoples cakes). I'd taken a chocolate brownie 'bog' which went down well but was nowhere near the standard of many of the cakes on display.

Glossopdale Harriers came away with plenty of prizes - 1st and 2nd place overall, 1st lady, 1st Lady under23 and 1st male team, with 23 of us getting past the finish line and to the cake table!! Tim has also blogged about his race on TestedToDestruction.