Thursday, 18 April 2013

Herod farm fell race 2013

This is a really close race to my heart. It is organised by my club Glossopdale harriers (ably coordinated by Sue Clapham this year) and was the first fell race that I entered when I arrived in the Peak District 2 years
ago. This was my third year of running it.
Sometimes described as a brutal "sharpener" for the midweek racing season, simply mentioning that it is only 5k long doesn't do it justice, even taking into account the 320 odd metres of ascent. And, indeed, descent.
There were some big names out in force for this little race. Stuart Bond, always ready to have a bash at Lloyds record, Jack Ross, Tom Brunt, a load of macc harriers, not to mention the Pennine lot, led out by steviek.

Don't you love a race profile that looks like this....
I've been doing a lot of long distance stuff recently, having realised that the Old County Tops is not all that far away and my partner is a bit more long distance trained at the moment. Having done no speed work and certainly no specific hillwork, I thought my short, sharp speed for a race such as this would be severely diminished. Maybe mid pack would be about a good place to get. Probably sub 30, but not near my last years time of 28:59, especially considering a 50k epic on Saturday,  chased with a 60k bike ride into a somewhat unbelievable headwind on sunday. 

However. The plan was to go hard for as long as possible, and then just try and hold on and see what happened.

Sue's pre-match talk was short but sweet, and she soon had us on our way. I started out near enough the front to see Stuart spring off up the road, opening out 10 metres of lead before 30 seconds had elapsed. So much for me going as hard as possible. That was just unbelievable.
On the way down, chasing StevieK
Within seconds I was engulfed by a number of other runners, eager to get a fast start. Carl came past me on my right, and then, there was John Hewitt next to me, with John Doyle ahead. I lost out to him on the second climb last year, and by the look of things I was already losing out today.
At that point I just shut down everything in terms of peripheral thoughts and concentrated on the task at hand.

Up past Herod farm,  there was a new section which we ascended, and I made up a fair few places there, goaded on by Andy O. Counting steps, I managed to keep up some semblance of a run to where Rod was offering similar encouragement. I nearly fell into the trap of falling in behind another runner, being dictated by their pace,  but was able to keep the presence of mind and body to keep grinding it out up the hill.
Me, with the pack behind me
I traded places with a few runners, alternately running then walking, and managed to come out at the bomb holes in front of most of those who had overtaken me at the beginning and chased down a couple more along the track and edged in front of a Darkpeaker at the stile before the haul to the first high point and the dash downhill.

Through the miasma of sweat and fatigue I realised that steviek was only 2 places in front of me. He must be having a slow day, and as it was I had my hands full keeping ahead of the baying pack behind me.
I gained time on them in the plunge down the hill. 
Well, I think I did. I never looked behind, so actually, I could be making stuff up.

Down to the turning and stevie and a macc harrier are about 30m ahead. Knowing the hill that is coming I briefly entertained the idea of slowing down to gain my breath.
And heard someone behind me.
Full gas then.
Making good my escape up the final climb
Through the tree bower that precedes the final climb and I wonder just how much is in the tank. Can I hold the place to the top?
Run till you can't run any more,  keep running until you legs scream. A brief respite and carry on.
The guy behind me sounds like his throat is being dragged out of his body on every breath.
The gate. I still haven't been caught, though I don't know how close they are.
Final ascent of the second climb and I decided that anyone who sounds like the are at deaths door is *not* going to beat me today.
Final Climb
Over the top. Legs filled with lead, lungs on fire, veins pumping  battery acid I plunge down the hill, with Neil Shuttleworths words ringing in my ear.
"Give it some, lad" 
I gave it some. 
Tore down the hill, thrashed through the heather and hammered down the track. No-one was taking this place from me. Approaching the end I could hear no footsteps behind me. Ease up now? What if I'm close to my time from last year? How annoying would it be to miss out on a better time?
No-one to race but myself, I threw it all down in the last 400 metres.
28:30. A minute and a half faster than last years time and just one place behind steviek.
Excellent. A lot better than I was expecting. Overall, 9th. Thats the first time I've been top ten in this race.
Happy with that.
Thats what effort might look like. 
Thanks to Paul Stitt, Gordon Cooper and Tom Skelton for the photos which I blatently ripped out of facebook and flikr. If you want them taken down, drop me a line.

1 comment:

  1. Well done on your time & position! The photos are there for the taking, no point taking them otherwise!