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 water...no 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 was....an 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.

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