Sunday, 2 February 2014

Long Mynd Valleys Fellrace, 2014

After drying out our stuff, having some rather nice tea, and some beer last night. we Glossopdalers went across to Church Stretton this morning to have a go at the new and improved version of the Long Mynd race, the second half of the Combined Mercia weekend- which we started yesterday with the Titterstone Clee race.

At registration we were given a bag with race number, 2 elastic bands to give in at certain checkpoints and a "race permit" which was to be given in at the entrance to the start pen. Crikey. Taking the counting idea to full potential.
The weather was ok-ish, but as I went up to have a quick look at the final descent, the rain started to fall a little, so it was a "waterproofs on" affair, as far as I was concerned. We stood around for a while, and were counted into the pen, feeling very much like sheep. Even with the majority of my clothing on - I only had my waterproof trousers left in my bumbag, I was bitterly cold, and Claire mentioned that I was shivering quite a lot. Deciding that I didn't want to take my waterproof off to show my number to marshals, I put my vest on over my waterproof. Which would not have been a problem if it was on my shorts.

No, Im not going to stop with this numbers on shorts thing. Its an eminently sensible place to put your number if the chest is covered by, for example, something which is staving off hypothermia.

Anyhow, so eventually we started, unfortunately without Tom Brunt, who left his shoes at home, and without a Pete Bland Van around, no where to buy a new pair. Boom, straight up the first hill, and I went passed Chris, but the fast boys were way out front, and running fast, uphill. I figured that conserving my energy might be a good idea, considering that most of the ascent comes in the last 3 miles. However, the sun soon came out, and there was me, in a waterproof, with a vest over the top, rapidly becoming in danger of overheating.
Over the first hill, and blast down the first descent - which was ridiculously loose mud/soil type mix, which made good running. Though even with mudclaws on, I was still slipping all over the place. (If you wear mudclaws, and you aren't slipping, you either aren't running fast enough, or you aren't on gnarly enough terrain!).

On the next ascent, I started with the amusing, and somewhat complex affair of removing one layer but not the other, while not dropping my gloves, hat, or losing any places. It took a while, but I managed it all quite well, before the real slog up the hill started. At this point I could still see Nic Barber from Pennine, and I was a little concerned that I might have started off a little fast, but continued on my way - Mike Robinson, the Dark Peaker from yesterday was close on my tail, and overtook me up the hill.
As the hill flattened out, we battered over some heather, and then onto a trail, where there was a fair old headwind. A group of about 5 of us made good time up the path, overtaking Mike, and gaining some ground on him.
The next bit variously involved heather, turks heads, and more heather. Not all that much of a path, and so we blasted through that - my long miles on Bleaklow last week held me in good stead for that. Down to the next checkpoint, and back up a long old ascent - along a stream line. By this time, there were 4 of us who were regularly swapping places, chatting between each other, and generally running hard.

As we hooned down the next valley, I heard a shout from up above, and the non-racing contingent of Glossopdale (Jules, Andy and Dan) were sat in a sun trap half way up the hill, giving us encouragement, which was nice.
As we passed the next checkpoint and turned left up the first of the big hills, I downed a gel, slowing to a walk along still relatively easy terrain, and was soon striding up the hill, which was surprisingly slippery. The guys ahead were slipping every 5th step or so, which surprised me. Until I got to the same bit, where I fell into the same pattern.
I have to say I surprised myself by overtaking someone uphill, and then caught up with a Mercia guy, who I then followed for pretty much the rest of the race. There was also a Welsh runner, who was truely stonking on the uphills, but not so on the downs.

Up and along and over, down, up, legs burning, continuing to pace and count. All I knew was the ground in front of me and the people around me. I was worried that I was going to cramp up, slow down, or just get overtaken. Yet, somehow I held on.
Downhill before the final up. The really big one, and we went at it hard. I overtook the Mercia guy, which turned out to be a mistake. Dave Ward of Pennine was creeping up on me, and I'm certain was trying to sneak past without me noticing, though I kept with him to the top, where Dave and I peeled off right instead of left, and ran for a couple of hundred metres, before noticing that everyone else had turned left.
A hard left, and a hard few hundred metres over rough ground, realising that everyone just behind us from the climb was now in front. Including Mike Robinson. I continued on with the hard running and managed to pass all but 2 of those that had regained time and places on me, the Mercia guy, and an Eryri runner, who appeared to have sprung from no-where.
I recognised this as the point just before the final descent, and readied myself for a bit of downhill racing, should it be necessary. To be honest, the Mercia guy didn't concern me. I'd followed him for so long I figured that it would be pretty horrendously rude to just blast past him in the final few metres. The others were a different matter entirely.

We plunged down the final descent, which is quite a long steep bank, and I took it relatively easy for about half of it, until I heard crashing steps behind me, just as it got really steep. Someone was attempting to overtake.
Not having any of that - so I gathered myself, and dropped like a stone on a slightly different line, passing the Eryri guy and following Mr Mercia across the stream, and pretty well jogged into the finish, with Mike hard on my tail.
17th, and first Glossopdale.

To be honest, I think I could have gone harder, though I'm not sure where. If I had gone faster at the beginning, would I have then blown up on the final climb? Would I have cramped? I don't know - but it's good knowledge for the next time.
The hill reps and fitness is obviously getting better, which is great encouragement to continue with what I'm doing for a few weeks before stepping it up another level.

Found out at the end that I was 2nd in the overall weekend championships- by about 4 minutes altogether. So I missed out on a prize by 1 place today as well.
Ah well, get older, or get faster.

Landie/camper combo. How Cool!
Great to see so many folk out today, especially as the weather was glorious. Nice to be thanked by someone for putting out the controls for the Marmot Dark Mountains last week as well - always good to be appreciated.
Thanks to all the marshals and the race organisers, well done to Caity for winning yesterday, and 2nd today, getting the overall womens Shield for the weekend.
Good day out - now back to the grindstone - again, apologies for no pictures, I'm sure that some will become available over the next few days, and I'll add them as and when - however, I did see the coolest ever landie/camper - and have a picture of that - so you can look at that instead.
For the moment, here is my Strava track

oh, and here are the Titterstone clee results, and here are the Long Mynd results , and the combined weekend champs results.

And I still think we should be allowed to wear numbers on shorts.

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