This is the one I have been looking forward to for a good couple of months. A 34k wander across 3 moors, hitting 3 trig points, and generally having a bit of a good time.
Last year I came in 23rd in a time of 3:59:40 (or so), and crashed badly on the way over Kinder in terms of a sugar low. This year I really wanted to get faster than that, though it would pretty much depend on the ground conditions, which in the weeks leading up to the race were not looking particularly promising. The last few recces I have done were across knee and ankle deep bogs in very little visibility.
After arriving, kit check went smoothly, and also showed me that I had packed 2 maps instead of one, so that saved me a bit of weight. Which was immediately put back on again as I decided to take a camera. Unfortunately I couldn't find a decent place to put it in order to get at it quickly - so it went in the bag, and I just ran with extra weight.
I was surprised at how little some people took with them in terms of kit, but then, I suppose you can get fully taped waterproofs and food and a map and compass in a 2-4 litre bumbag, I just took my heavier kit in a slightly larger bag. Perhaps in hindsight I could have cut down on the weight of the gear I took, but it wasn't really a problem. It was the food that weighed more, and I needed that right to the end.
|Credit - www.flamingphotography.co.uk|
Alastaire took off with the front group (as soon as they worked out the right direction) and I didn't see him again until the very end. He ended up doing fantastically well, but had to contend with 5 mins of not being able to move anywhere after being afflicted with cramp on Kinder.
I trotted along at my own speed with Dan and Andy in close proximity, and a couple of runners from Carnethy. I saw Jasmine and Heather waaay ahead of us, spurred on by each other and looking like they were just going to batter the hell out of each other on the way to a new Womens record.
Underfoot was really good going. There wasn't quite so much ice as there was last year, and the run down off Black hill toward Crowden Little Brook had a decent amount of squidge to it - in comparison to a year ago when it was solid mud ice - so MUCH better to run on this year.
I was running pretty well on the way down to Crowden, but making sure that I was eating in the right places. This was going to be the important bit- as I remember it getting really quite difficult as I got onto Lawrence Edge last year, an energy gel was consumed, and although I didn't necessarily feel energised, I knew that there would be a bit more stuff in me which would get me up the hill.
There was a person in front of me who I thought was Grouse, so I kept him in my sights all the way across and up on the way up to the Edge. I finally caught up with him, and found it wasn't. Oh. Ah well, I guessed he was far far away ahead of me.
|Thanks to Eleanor Swan for the Snake summit photo|
So it wasn't until we got into the groughs going up beyond Wildboar when I was able to take a sneaky line and get out in front of her.
More food, and a bit of water, and the drag up to Higher Shelf Trig, with a couple of other runners near me. To be honest, I never actually recced that bit, and was very much making it up as I went along, just aiming for the highest point on the hill. It kind of worked, and we bounded off down the hill toward Snake Summit.
|Coming into the finish|
By this time I was getting pretty tired, but there was a marvellous boost as the assembled Glossopdale supporting horde cheered us on through the Checkpoint. On and across Featherbed moss, and I began to see more people in front of me for the first time since Crowden. Excellent, but a minor thing in the way - that being the North Edge of Kinder. It was just as long and steep and horrible as I remember it from last year, and I ended up hauling myself up with hands as my feet dragged behind me. A Dark Peaker was alongside me, but we left another guy straggling a way behind us as we climbed up onto the top.
Bagged the trig, and then, because of the icy top, I took a bit of a new and radical line across to the Downfall. Needless to say it didn't work all that well, but at least I didn't end up at Fairbrook naze like a couple of runners from Carnethy may or may not have done(!).
|Food. The best reward around.|
Up into the groughs and quite a zigzagging route through the area, and then out and over the bog - mercifully iced over, so a decent speed was maintained, and then along the south edge of Kinder. Again, not really something I had reccied, and that was to be my eventual downfall as the 2 Dark Peakers behind me that I had overtaken through the grough maze on Kinder took a much better line and thrashed me off the hill, finishing a minute or so faster.
New line for next year methinks...
As it was, I finally caught up with Grouse coming off Grindslow, overtaking him near the bottom, and just about managing to hold him off in a near on neck and neck finish.
20th overall, in 3:47:11, about 16 seconds behind Alastaire, whose red hat I had seen in the last 100 metres of the race - the first time I saw him since the beginning.
Well done to the rest of the Glossopdale Harriers who ran, especially Mark Ollerenshaw who came 3rd, Julien, 10th overall, and first V50, and John S, with the incredible exploding shoes, which ended up being held together with Gaffa tape for a third of the race.
Stevie K from Pennine had a fabulous run coming in 4th, and 1st Vet 40, and Jasmine was 6th overall, and first Lady.
|Johns incredible exploding shoe.|