This week I was meant to be doing my second ever timetrial over with Glossop Kinder Velo. It had been in the diary for a good couple of weeks. However, it clashed with Wormstones Fell race, which, although not actually a classic, seemed like a decent little race on which to test my current form.
I debated for a couple of days, thinking that really, it would be good to do the time trial, to see if I could get a faster time, but in the end, Wormstones won out. I'm a fellrunner, and a racer, and although I started to cycle in earnest to get better at running, if I start doing cycling events rather than running ones, where would that end up? All cock-eyed, thats for sure.
So I got a rucksack full of stuff for post-race, and all my gear, and toddled over to the start. It is not more than a mile or so from our house, so really quite convenient. The race registration was in the Beehive, quite possibly one of the best pubs in Glossop- and certainly the one with the best whisky selection and the best Thai food. I got there in plenty of time for the 7pm start, only to be told that it had been changed to 730. Ah well, best use the time wisely, and not have a pint, but rather go for a quick run up and down the closest bits of the course to get an idea of the start and finish.
Running up the hill to look at the finish, my legs were a little tired. Perhaps 3 legs of the BG at the weekend followed by a 60k bike ride on monday might have been a little ambitious? Nevermind, I've paid my entrance fee now.
So after a short bit of recce-ing I got back to the pub as it started to rain. Everyone crowded inside, Stefan from Pennine and Steve from Glossopdale sought me out and told me that they were running the race on the back of the race report I wrote in 2011. Which wasn't actually all that useful- as the course was completely different to that which we ran last time!
Once the start time came the rain had passed and the sky was brightening. Very much like most midweek races I have ever run around Glossop!
We lined up, I was somewhere ahead of mid-pack, but not quite at the front, and the race was started by John the Publican- and we pounded off down the road. Well. Most of us did. The unmistakable figure of Tall Chris streaked off down the pavement on the right and came out ahead of pretty much everyone -leading the race for a short while. After all the races he has been doing, he really has some pace off the line!
Running along the road at the beginning I sensed a bit of a split starting to separate the front runners from the midpack, so I lengthened my stride a bit to bridge over to them. Then, as the road hit a slight incline, that pack began to consolidate into about 10 runners. I was still accelerating from the midpack to the front, and they appeared to be slowing a little.
Well, I was damned if I was going to let them dictate the pace, especially with a bit of a pinch point coming up, and as I was feeling pretty good, I might as well sit on the front, hammer out a good pace and see if I can split them into smaller fragments.
So I slipped between two Pennine runners and just carried on going. No-one in front of me, just a pack of 100 or so runners behind.
It was quite peaceful. I knew I couldn't hold on to the lead, but I thought I might just have it through the pinch points.
Down the lane, through the gate, straight down the steep bank, across the stream and round the corner, and then overtaken by 2 guys. Unsurprising, but now at least I was quite well placed through the trees up to the first climb, and held onto third until we crossed the road and up to wormstones when Stevie K led a motley crew of Pennine runners passed me. 4 in all, and then a guy from Buxton.
The hill to Wormstones isn't all that bad. It is long, it drags a bit, but generally it is a nice hill. My legs were really feeling the previous few days mileage, actually, maybe they were feeling the metres of ascent and descent, I just couldn't wring any more power or speed out of them, but slowly, as we ascended, I gradually began to catch up with a Pennine vest and the Buxton chap. We overtook the Buxton guy before we topped out at the Harry hut trig, before turning left and thrashing along the trod to the Grouse butts. Pennine vests skipping across the hill in front of me and being chased down by goodness knows who else.
Never. Look. Back.
I tried to relax across the trod, through heather, across groughs, and over what would have been really boggy ground if it had been wetter recently, and as soon as we turned left again to go downhill I knew I had at least 2 Pennine guys in sight. I just hoped I wouldn't have to go too far into the red to catch them.
Down the peaty track to the Shooting cabin was a delight to run on. A little bit dodgy underfoot in places, forcing me to take longer strides, which accelerated me downhill, and within the 200 metres to the cabin I was right behind the 2 guys.
Now the track turned into a hard quad track with lots of random bits of stone in different places. Technical, but a different challenge entirely. The Pennine guy I had been following overtook his compatriot, and I swiftly followed suit, just catching a glimpse of him- it was Stefan - running really well, but my concentration was on keeping the other guy in my sights and I matched him stride for stride down the track until it steepened slightly, I extended my legs and gained a metre or so by virtue of the fact that I was gambling on getting my feet on some decent ground. It worked, and I led down to the gate.
To go through? To vault it? If I go through, he'll vault, and I'll lose time. If I vault and screw it up, he can go through and I'll lose time again. Don't screw it up then.
Using the fact I was in front I positioned myself bang in the middle so that he couldn't come either side, and went straight over it. Excellent, now a straight downhill section to another gate. I easily kept in front and took the next one.
I could sense his impatience at wanting to be in front of me, and he tried to surge. Everytime he nearly came alongside of me, I accelerated, just a bit, to keep him behind. Then I slowed a little, until it happened again. That must have gone on 4, 5 times or so, until we hit the bottom of the hill, and a slight incline to another gate.
I let him get in front of me, and he went to vault the gate. I shimmied (yes, I shimmied) left, and went through the gate, not losing any time at all. But he kept ahead of me up to the road, and onto the last section of climb, over to a farmhouse. He was slowing a little, and I swear I could hear steps behind me, so I picked up the pace ever so slightly, knowing that we really didn't have far to go.
Catching up with him, matching him, and then going past. Trying to breathe evenly, but feeling like my lungs were on full capacity, being constricted by some unseen hand. Having to keep it together when really you just want to stop. Actually. Just want HIM to stop.
I had to give it full beans now. Through the farm, over a gate, blast across a field, we're into the final 300 metres now, this place is mine, and I'm going to give it hell to make sure it is. No time to glance back, and its through a wall, up a track, past Des, giving some encouragement, and then a plunge down a tarmacked drive to the end. Hell for leather, and really really going for it as hard as possible.
I didn't get overtaken.
6th. Not bad, all things considering.
A fantastic evening out, unfortunately I had to rush off so didn't stop off for a pint afterward, but I shall be over at the Beehive in the next few days.
Apologies about the lack of photos, but my official photographer was at work... If you have any, drop me a line.
So instead, here is an attempt at a link to my movescount page