Saturday, 1 February 2014

Titterstone Clee

The Glossopdale army made its way to Church Stretton this weekend to make an assault on the dual billing of Titterstone Clee and the Long Mynd fell races.

There has been a weather warning out for this area of the country and it certainly showed as we made our way along wet and occasionally flooded roads to the start.

Registration wasn't too much trouble, but with the new FRA regs in mind a few extra measures had been put in place. We were given wrist bands that matched our number to give in at the top of the hill, and there would be a count through as well.

The weather was proper grim. Wind and sleet turning to snow. It was cold and my clothing option was a baselayer, vest (with number attached) waterproof top, hat and BIG gloves.

We were also told that a map was essential. Thankfully the organisers had thoughtfully printed out a load of A4 maps of the area with the start and finish helpfully circled. Completely pointless, a waste of paper, but apparently necessary.
We warmed up in the sleet, and I recced a good finishing line, and then we were gathered together to pass through a funnel in number order to wait for the start. Where we stood, chilling off nicely before the race. That was the coldest I got all morning.

Soon enough we were off, and I managed to get within the top 6 as we barged across the wet ground. Never looking behind, I just concentrated on churning up the hill. After half a k I was in 4th, but with others breathing down my neck. The top 3 were slowly eking out a lead and I wasn't entirely sure of the line to take.
At that point, Mike Robinson of Dark Peak came past, so I had someone to vaguely follow.

The hill kicked up and the top 3 accelerated away. Cresting what I thought was the top, I realised there was a bit more of an up to get to the top. The wind was battering straight into us at that point and the guy directly behind me was obviously using me as cover.
Enough of that.

I walked, let him overtake and immediately started running again, using him as shelter. Not that there was much at all, what with the sleet hammering into us.

We got to the top just behind mike, I figured that I'd make some time up on the descent, but engaged in a bit of a farce as I attempted to give my band in at the top. It kept getting blown back at me and I'd be damned if I was going to open my jacket to show my number.

The 2 guys further down the field who (illegally) had their numbers on their shorts probably had no such problem. Numbers on shorts. Much more intelligent choice for those conditions. Bloody stupid FRA rule.
But I digress.

After the faff and farce at the top, I turned and saw how far away the next guy was behind me. (An advantage of out and back races). Excellent, just needed to chase down the guys in front. By this time they were 50 an 150metres ahead of me so I had my work cut out.

The first guy didn't appear to be entirely happy about descending, so I'd overtaken him within a few hundred yards. Mike was a different matter and was a long way down the hill so I just kept him in my sights and went for it.

I knew I was catching him, but was also running out of hill rather rapidly. The end was coming up, and I could see my pre-reccied line coming up. Inexplicably, Mike took a line down to the road. Yes. My chance!

Accelerating across the bog and moor, my eyesight blurring, I stretched it out towards the finish, hitting the road just in front of Mike, despite being 30m behind him just before he turned down his path.

Dig in and sprint to the end.

4th. In 22:23.

I then had to show my number- beneath my waterproof- to show who I was. Would have been waaaay easier to have it on my shorts. But hey. That's an intelligent idea. It'd never catch on.

Well done to the rest of the harriers, unfortunately we don't know the positions yet as they weren't available at prize giving. Caity was first lady, Zoe was 3rd lady and Lins was first LV45.

Sorry, no pictures, we have Long Mynd tomorrow and I won't have computer access til we get home.

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