Monday, 19 December 2011

A non-run run (Glossopdale annual Christmas Bash)

Yesterday was Glossopdale Harriers Christmas-do. The morning being taken up by a bit of a run up into the hills, and then the afternoon with a social occasion in someones house. We woke up to about 2-3 inches of snow on the ground outside the house, with snow still coming down. Not just a bit of snow, but full on decent heavy flakes. Fluffy stuff. Brilliant, it was going to be fantastic up the hill!
A group portrait of GDH
However, I had a minor issue. As you may have noticed from the past couple of posts, my phantom toe injury is still plaguing me, and I'm not really able to run around properly- despite the prognosis of a "hurty toe" and the introduction of double strength ibuprofen into my life.

As very flexible fellshoes are not particularly great for my toes specifically- propelling off the one that hurts for long periods of time- well, short periods actually- really hurts- I decided to go out in stiff soled boots. If the sole is very stiff, I can propel myself off the entire foot without putting undue pressure on the toe that hurts. Genius. I'm kind of resting it, while getting out and about. Great.

So I appointed myself photographer, borrowed Lynnes SLR, and dressed accordingly for a cold day out. As the runners were going to be taking minimal gear, I thought as I was taking up a rucksack, I might as well make it full of useful stuff, so included extra gloves, hats, a couple of insulative jackets, a bothy bag, first aid kit, flask of hot ribena, food, water, an ice axe, crampons and a small hip flask of Blackberry Vodka. With all of that, it was a relatively heavy bag, and I ended up with a pair of 3/4 running tights on under some Windstopper G2 trousers, a base layer with a fleece and my Dragon jacket over the top.
After walking over Shirehill with Lynne, the fleece came off. Far too hot for that, despite ankle deep snow on the ground.
What was interesting was that after a good few months with fell shoes being the footwear of choice around the hills, walking boots felt quite slippery with not a lot of grip. I took some walking poles as well, to help me along, and provide a bit of stability as well.

Everyone was gathering in the turning circle in Old Glossop, being amused by the few people who turned up in fancy dress. Juliens dog Brae ran around chasing snowballs and at 10:10 (or thereabouts) I took a few photos, worked out where they were going so that I could chase and put myself in a logical place for when they came down, and off they went.

Runners in the mist- you can just see them
I decided to follow at a decent pace, which I could do with the poles, despite the potential toe issue, and the heavy pack, and was able to get a few photos of them running through the snow up into the mist. To begin with, snow was all over the place, and there was really low visibility only a little higher up the hill- very low cloud ensured that- so the runners looked like they were heading off up into the mist. I carried on at a fair pace, and because there were so many of them, there were a few times when they must have stopped and had a group discussion, because by the time I got to Mossy Lea, I was certainly catching them up. I was also sweating like a demon.
weather clearing behind
Only one thing for it, trousers off, and just go for it in my running tights. The removal of clothing took a couple of minutes, and by the time I was ready to go again, they had completely disappeared into the mist up toward Lower Shelf. The mist, it has to be said, by this time was beginning to lift, and I could see blue sky behind me down over glossop (through the clouds). I could also see touches of blue above me, so by the time we got to the top, it was going to be pretty special.
Again, runners heading off into the mist

The tracks of 25 people and 3 dogs were pretty easy to follow, so I hared off up the track, fairly certain that I would catch them up before too long. It was tiring work, and I couldn't go as fast as I wanted because I needed to keep the camera bag relatively stable. If it started to swing around it got very uncomfortable, and hampered me even more so, that eventually I had to stop moving in order to sort it out.
Fairly obvious tracks
(another point, how do you run with a camera, especially an SLR so that it doesn't get in your way when running, but is relatively easy to get to when you really need to get to it quickly? I sense a bit of a challenge coming on)
As I forged my way up the hill, through the snow, I noticed my feet slipping even more, and thought I would probably need to put my crampons on pretty soon- I turned a corner, and saw figures up ahead, maybe 400 metres away, again, slipping slowly into the clouds. I redoubled my efforts knowing that they were not too far ahead, they were probably going to stop soon, and I didn't need to.
Up, and round a corner, they weren't there, and the foot steps carried on, follow, follow, follow, andother corner, and a brightly coloured assortment of runners were standing in the snow just about to set off.
Camera out, more photos.
Caught up with them all

You can just make out the A group in the mist
Off up the hill to the top of James Thorn where the A group continued East towards Higher Shelf Stones and the Trig point, and the B group turned North, across the snow covered moor toward Dowstone Clough and the descent. I was there to take a couple of photos of the B group floundering in the snow- though it was a shorted route, it certainly wasn't the "easier" route in any way shape or form, also managed to get a shot or 2 of the A group, again, disappearing up into the mist. I decided that now was a good time to try out my crampons, so stopped for a short while to clip them on and off I charged in the direction of the B group, remembering Ueli Stecks words "one rule of old school alpinists- Never. Never run in crampons." I decided to follow what he does, rather than what others have said in the past, and jogged across the snow covered moor, once again following footsteps in the snow.
The B group taking the "easy" option
The cloud began to lift from the moor as I went across it, so the B group came into view quite quickly. Forging my way across I soon caught up with them, more photos, and more running until we hit Dowstone. A quick stop for a sampling of the Blackberry Vodka and a look around the somewhat spectacular snowcovered, and now non-cloud-covered landscape, and back down the hill, past Dog rock as the sun came out, and onwards down the Shelf moor race route, with rocks occasionally causing slight stumbling blocks below the snow.

I was able to get some good shots of people running through the snow, but still wasn't able to move quite as fast as I would like- partially because of the camera bag issue. However, the crampons gave me as much confidence as I would have had with a pair of fellshoes on, I just had to be a little more careful of where I was putting my feet- thankfully, I finished the run with no blood anywhere on my legs.

Catching up with the B group again
The A group eventually caught us up at one of the stiles, so I took photos of them running in, and we all set off back down Lightside to the bottom. I played sweeper ensuring everyone got off the hill, though it would have been nice if there was someone else with me to encourage and help out the less experienced runners who got left waaaay behind.
So, a lot of pictures, and not "really" a run, but an excellent day out, nevertheless.
Well deserved fortification

The afternoon was excellent as well, Charlie very generously opened his house to the masses, we brought food (and took the comments previously made of "please, No mince pies", the only mince pies in the house were mince pie flavoured crisps....)
There was food and drink aplenty, and much fun was had by all.
It doesn't get much better than this
The club championships were awarded with Julien winning the overall Championship (by a whisker), Gwyn winning the mid-week championship (by a mile), Kirsty got the female championship, and Lindsay won the female mid-week championship.
There were also a few other prizes, Ian had accumulated most points across all races during the year, Nev got most improved runner, I won best newcomer (which surprised me somewhat), and Beryl was recognised for her continuing contributions and dedication to the club.

A lovely day, thanks to all involved, and especially thanks to Charlie and Annie for opening their house to us motley lot. Thankyou.

Kilted men in the snow. What more can I say?
GDH heading off the tops.
And someone did manage to get a picture of me as well, with the weather clearing behind me.

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