Sunday, 13 May 2012

Glossopdale at the Calderdale relay

Up at 5am to go racing. But not just any old racing, this was my first relay event. Not wanting to jinx proceedings by saying who was going to do which leg beforehand- there has been quite a high drop out rate in the past from our club- Julien didn't tell anyone who was doing which leg until the beginning of the week, and travel arrangements were still fairly liquid even last night.

The day dawned brightly, and it seemed that all was good as I was picked up by Julien. Our team was one of the best that Glossopdale has fielded in recent years (despite a number of us hammering it out on Mount Famine yesterday). Andy O and I were the leg 1 runners, first up and responsible for getting a good lead out. Julien and Alistair were on leg 2, Carl and Charlie on the shorter leg 3, John H and Matt D on leg 4, Andy A and Andy F leg 5, and Gwyn and Mark O providing a rocketship of a final leg 6.

3 cars, 12 people, organisational amusement and logistical chaos. Excellent.

After quite an atmospheric drive over the M62 (yes, its possible) Julien, Andy, Alistair and I got to the start with plenty of time, wandered around and I noticed that a lot of the other competitors had long sleeved tops on under their race vests. It might have been cold then, and there might have been quite a breeze, but fairly soon it was going to heat up quite a lot. Andy and I recced the first 200 yards, and there were quite a few pinch points. Also, we knew that the next part of the race was a thin trail with no chance of overtaking, we knew that we needed a good start or else we'd get stuck behind a slow team, which would knock us out. The reason for needing a decent start was because we wanted the team to get around without being caught up in any mass starts. Only once has Glossopdale not been in the mass start on the 6th leg... the answer was to go fast.

All too soon, the warming up was over, we gathered at the start and then there was a whistle. No speech, no directions, nothing. A surge forward, a half hesitation - not sure if that was actually the signal to go, and then a surge at the realisation that it was. I thrashed up the field thinking only to get a decent place, and then thought... I wonder if Andy is with me... looked around, and saw him sprinting up behind me, around a couple of other runners. Well, at least we were together. He had the baton, I had the map. Up through the park and into the wood.

It soon became apparent that the teams in front of us were a bit faster than us- keeping about 20 metres ahead. No need to worry about needing to overtake anyone then, and the teams behind, were about that behind us as well. Excellent. We had unconsciously sorted ourselves into the right place.
I could feel fatigue from Mount Famine in my legs, and at several times was a bit concerned that I might have started off just a tad fast. Andy was running well, and I nearly called him to cool it as I might not be able to keep up the pace all the way around the 10 miles. But I held my tongue, got my head down, and ran.
Up onto the moor, we had a team keeping pace with us, and using us as a windbreak against the fierce headwind. Not great, but then neither of us really provide all that much protection from anything really.

Over the moor and down past the MRT landrover, and a plunge down into Ripponden. We left the shelter-seeking team way behind, and on the climb up to Soyland, we were overtaken by another team. Not to worry, we are still going strong.
There were a few stiles around this area that were VERY thin. We just about managed to fit through them with bumbags on, but more generously built competitors may well have had problems!

Over and down the hill, following swiftly in the footsteps of the ones in front. A bit too swiftly in their opinion, as one of them told Andy to back off on the steps- Too much pressure.
Its a race, isn't it?! That's the idea.
Anyhow, up and onto another moor, making excellent time, and then, disaster.
With no-one around us, a wrong turning, followed by another, and a complete numpty attempt at correcting it. Down a slope, back up again... Calm, breathe, its not that bad. Work out whats going on, and then rock on down a road to hit the right path. 7 minutes later than planned, and in amongst a load of teams that we were literally miles ahead of. Damn.

Nothing to do now, but go for it, last hill down, a blast and then into the handover, nearly throwing the baton at Julien and Alistair. What a cock-up. Still, we ran our best, and there is nothing to do now but wait to see what our fellow team-mates can do to make up for it. To the car, chatting about it, a swift change and then drive to leg 2-3 changeover where Charlie and Carl were waiting.
I navigated and took us on a somewhat magical mystery tour, eventually coming into the area from the wrong direction, but we got there in plenty of time. We stood and chatted with an increasingly jittery pair of runners as team after team ran on out. After what seemed like an eternity, Blue and Orange shirts came tearing down the road, and with shouts and whoops, Carl and Charlie shot off into the distance.

Jules and Ali had done well, overtaking about 10 or more teams, really giving their all, despite their efforts in Mount Famine yesterday. A brilliant run, and they looked like they had had quite a run. We packed up and went on to the transition of 4-5, missing out the 3-4 as there probably wouldn't have been time to get there before the runners did.
Sitting in the car above the transition point we wolfed down some food, and waited for Andy and Andy to turn up- they had been delivering the leg 6 runners before coming back to this transition with the car. After a while, and about 50 mins before we calculated Matt and John would run in, they arrived and registered. We had a chat about how things were going, and the navigation of the next leg. They went off to get changed and to recce the first part of the route.
Ali went off to have a look down the way, and it was getting to about 10 mins or more before we expected Matt and John in at the earliest. We saw Andy and Andy heading off down the track. For a recce? That's quite a speed they're going for a recce... Out of the car, and who should come staggering up the path like two battle drunken veterans but John and Matt with a widely grinning Alistair.

Carl and Charlie had a fantastic run, taking back a number of places, and John and Matt had worked really hard to take a few more. They looked ruined. Pleased, but ruined. Wow, at this rate we still had about 1:15 before the cut off at the 5-6 transition, we've never been in quite such a good place as this as a team. Things are looking good.
Matt and John were stowed safely in Andys landy with supplies, and the rest of us bundled off over to the final transition. On the way we saw the 2 Andy's at a road crossing, catching another team and going strong, I texted Gwyn to be ready as they looked to be on the warpath.

We got to the final transition to find Gwyn and Mark ready and waiting. To be fair they had been ready and waiting for about 2 and a half hours, and were quite glad of the company. We saw a couple of other teams head on out and thought that it would probably be another 10 mins or so before Andy and Andy appeared for the transition. All of a sudden- "Team 38".... "TEAM 38!" That's us- Gwyn and Mark threw their jumpers at us and ran.
The Andy's had had a phenomenal leg, Andy F doing a sterling job of navigation, and Andy A giving the moral support (or so he said). Glossopdale team was off out on leg 6 a full 15 mins before the mass start. As far as we could think, the best we'd ever had before was about 3 mins before it in the past, and we came about 27th that year.


This is where the logistics got a bit complex, and I had to wait at a petrol station for a while before getting picked up, but suffice to say that Carl, Charlie and I got to the end in time to watch what was (we think) the 7th team come in. Then the 8th.
Then a LONG gap.

Then... is that Gwyn? Yes- and 2 other teams, and Mark. All of them covered in salt where the sweat had evaporated as they ran. One team just managed to gather together and lead in to the end, Mark caught Gwyn up and they surged ahead of the third team in the group, but couldn't quite muster the power to beat the ones in front.
A superb effort. By our reckoning, (and also Carl looking over the officials shoulder), 10th. Completely unofficial, and maybe wrong, but if that is right, a brilliant result. (John's response on hearing this was "what?! What?! No?! Really?! What?!" - which I think was a positive response).

Tea and cake followed, and a group photo which is on Juliens phone, so I'll try and get that off him at some point soon to put on this rather non-photographic blog, well dones all around and then a journey home.
All in all an excellent days racing around the Calderdale way. Thanks very much to the organisers and well done to Wharfedale for winning.

The team. Jules, Andy O, Andy A, Andy F, Carl, Charlie, Mark O, Gwyn, Matt D, - Front, Alistair, John H and me.
But most of all Well Done to all involved in Team Glossopdale for a fantastic day of running and camaraderie, and thanks to Jules, the team captain for organising us herd of cats.


  1. Well, results are out. We didn't come 10th.

    Oh no.
    We came 9th. Very very pleased with that indeed.