Saturday, 28 February 2015

Pipedream - 2015

The Welsh theme of racing continues this week, with a foray into deepest, darkest Dolgarog (its not actually all that deep, or indeed dark, but I like the alliteration), for the Pipedream race. Its been going for a good number of years now, and after a slight diversion last year (works on the Pipes meant that there was an extra mile to run), the race was now back to its original iteration, good news for those wanting a crack at the record.

The weather was looking promising on the way down into Wales, and despite a section of the motorway being shut, the Glossopdale massive (all 3 of us) managed to get to Dolgarog in plenty of time. Race registration was in the local community centre, and it was good to find out that any money over and above the cost of the race goes toward its up keep.
We registered, and noted the kit requirements. I don't think I've ever raced without kit, so this was going to be a bit of a new experience. After loitering around pinning numbers on shirts, we wandered up the route, checking out the very steep and slippery descent line, straight down a dodgy cement path before the final sprint along the road. From checking that out, I walked up the pipeline a way as well, and chatted with Daz Fishwick about the start, and where the route might possibly go... and then Math turned up, professing to have no idea where he was going, having run it last in 2008. Which is more than
y'know its a good race...

either Daz or I had done.
Still, we worked out where we were meant to be going, and returned to the start.

The whole lot of us wandered one by one into the carpark, being counted by the race organiser (and, I believe Chair of the WFRA - the same bloke), before being given the race briefing. Which was pretty brief and to the point, before moving onto the road for the start... a whistle was blown- which was actually to let the marshals know to stop the traffic - but was taken as the start whistle by all those just getting to the start line, and runners started stampeding ahead, amongst shouts of NO - not yet!.
So we ground to a halt pretty quickly and moved back to the line with a fair amount of sheepish comments and looks.
Enough time to reset your watch, and then Go.

With adrenaline already coursing through the veins from the false start, I got into my stride pretty quickly, and was behind a group of about 8 runners, being led away by Math, who was going at some ridiculous pace along the road. At my shoulder appeared Dave Parker from merionydd, to whom I pointed out the view last race... we exchanged a couple of words about fell racing and tour guiding, before hanging the sharp left, and the beginning of the climb - still on the road, and with Math stretching out in front. In fact, that was pretty much the last I saw of him. Soon enough we swung right, and up on a path which plonked us at the bottom of the pipeline section we were to climb.
Jez Brown from Buckley briefly came past me, but I re-overtook as the incline steepened. I took another runner, and then I held on behind another guy as we hit the steps. 500 steps up a hill, inbetween 2 huge pipes.
So we didn't actually run up this pipe.... the steep one in the background... see that one? THATS the one we ran up.
yes, there was a bannister, no, it didn't really help.
What's the best technique? hand on bannister, hand on leg? both hands on legs? hands on steps, and bear crawl? No idea, but I tried them all. The guy in front sounded like he was going to die at any moment, making me wonder if it was the same one as at Moel y Ci. (it was). But I followed him up the steps, unable to get any faster, and with no idea what was going on below me.

Above, I dunno, Math and the other guy at the front must have levitated, or caught a lift or something.

Up and up. We passed a gate. Is that half way? A third? no idea. Calves burning, but you can't stop. Up and up, through another gate, and after years and years and years of climbing, there were only a few left, exit left under the pipe, and what do you know.
We keep going up.

Normally this is terrain that I can run up, but today my legs are already burnt to a cinder and not really working. Walk, then run, walk then run. Rhythm doesn't come easily to legs that don't appear to belong to me. I over take the guy in front of me as we go up a track, and then left again, next to the pipe, we go over a rise, and then, the worst possible thing confronts me. A couple of kilometres of flat running.

I muster up all the energy and leg speed I have, and go as hard as I dare, but runner after runner passes me. 5 altogether,  who end up in a group some yards ahead of me. Over stiles, through bog, continually along this flipping great pipe. I slowly lose ground to them as my legs fail to respond to any type of coercion.
Finally, after what seems like more than 2km of flat, we meet a marshal, hang a right, and up hill again.
The group ahead of me splits a bit, and I re-catch the slowest. Up and over another stile (there were a LOT of stiles), and turn back, the wind behind us, up to the summit.
I can just about see Dave in front of me, battling it out with someone else. The others in that group ahead of me seem to have disappeared.

Finally. The top, and the beginning of the descent, its a bit scraggy on top, tufts of vegetation and dodgy underfoot, just the way I like it. For about 400m, and then bang! Onto a hard path. This is turning a bit too much into road running for my liking - but at least its a bit trail-y under foot.
I don't seem to gain much downhill here, it is far too runnable, then the track gives way to tarmac.... which is a surprise (and not just to me, apparently this is new), and we pound down a distance of tarmac before a sharp little rise, a jump over a stile, and back into off road territory.

I tear across the green-ness, but to no avail, Dave and his adversary keep a constant distance away from me as we dive into the woods. How long have we to go~? No idea. Keep following the red and white tags, and hope you can see someone in front.
Luckily there was no-one breathing down my neck at this point. The ground underfoot got a little more technical, rocks and bits and bobs all over the place. It was a true pleasure to run this part as hard as possible. Technical single track for the fell runner - excellent stuff.
Just toward the end, the thinning of the trees I was catching with someone who really didn't seem keen on his
feet. I blasted down, and caught him just as we hit the top of the slippery track that we had recced earlier.

I knew the lines, I knew the gradient and I knew the slippiness, so kept ahead of him through the twists. Dave and co. were a bit too far down now for me to catch, though I could still see them. More importantly, we were inside the last km, and I had someone very much breathing down my neck.
I ran hard to the edge of the woods, and the beginning of the final straight to the line. He was coming up behind me, and we ran down the road, shoulder to shoulder.

Measure the effort. Measure the time. Don't go too early.
Inside the last 200, still neck and neck, I decided to go. Easing out on my stride, I heard his feet fade behind me. Striding toward the line I realised that I was actually catching Dave... another 200 and I might even have caught him, but it wasn't to be.
Bundling over the line, I was 6th. Same as at Moel y Ci.
Pretty damn good, but I know where I need to improve now. It is even more clear cut.

Superb race, though. Thanks very much to the organiser, and, of course, the marshals.
Well done to Math for winning (by a second) and amazing running from the bloke that came 2nd... seriously - I think you must be aliens for getting times like that.
Excellent running from my clubmates, Al who was 20th, and Linds, who was 3rd Lady V40, coming home with a box of crackers and some toffee things.

If you want a lesson in organising a race for the enjoyment of the runners, the bloke that organises this one, is a good person to be learning from.
And if you ran it and aren't part of the WFRA. Join! tis only a tenner.
Looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Moel y Ci Fellrace 2015

I was having trouble working out how to pronounce this one. Is is Moel y Si? or Moel y Ki? Luckily, there was a handy little sheet of paper near the race registration that explained that it is in fact something closer to Moel leki. (I think). And it is most certainly NOT doghill dash, as it may have been incorrectly called in the past.
So there you go.
A lot of fellrunning royalty may well have been up doing the Carnethy 5 on this weekend, and I'm sure they had a marvellous time. There were a good 150+ of us gathering in somewhat warm conditions just down the road from Bangor for the first of the WFRA North Wales series champs races of the year. I was hoping that I might have a decent chance of a REALLY good position, but there were quite a few decent looking runners moseying around at the start, with Math Roberts leading the welsh contingent, and Lloyd, the Manx. ok then. Ignore everyone else and run the best race that I can.
Its a good plan.

Al was also down in the wilds of Wales for the race, as he is spending the weekend exploring the vicinity, and we did a quick recce of the first few and last few kilometres, taking note of a sneaky little shortcut that may well prove useful.

Time ticked on, and numbers swelled. Race maps were provided for this short race in the form of a photocopied sheet that were free to all competitors, should they have neglected to bring their own, and there were notices saying that full hill kit should be taken.
Soon enough we were counted through to the start gate, where I couldn't help notice that a goodly number of runners were standing there in race kit, but with no bag, or any sign of waterproofs or map... interesting. Was it compulsory for anyone that didn't speak welsh?!

No, the race organiser stood up to say a few words, there is a kit requirement, but it is up to you as a runner to be responsible to wear it. Ditto maps. Refreshing, after last weeks heavy handed map attitude.
So some of us wore bags, others didn't. It might have made a difference, but the fact we were given a choice was fabulous.

Then it was 3,2,1 Go. I had engineered myself to be somewhere near the front, unlike Dave Soles from Pennine, who engineered himself to be near the "front" at the opposite end of the pen to me thinking the race was starting in the opposite direction... not the most auspicious of starts.

The start was the usual scuffle of people trying to run, and being a bit squished, but we soon sorted ourselves out into a semblance of order, and going up the first hill, there was a definite block of people up ahead that
were proper fast, a group around me who were pretty fast, but not insano pace, and I presume the rest of the field behind us.
We climbed up steeply through a load of mud, which I had recced earlier, and then through a fence, helpfully held open by a marshal to hit a section of track. The faster paced guys from my group shot off, and I kept pace with a Buckley runner and a couple of others. The speed was pretty high, and I wasn't entirely sure how long I could sustain it for, but knew there was a decent climb coming up.

Soon enough, a tight left hander, and the track swung up and sharp right, turning from a hard surface to slippy mud. My x-talons have done a few races, and were a bit slippy on the way up, but I managed to keep in front of the Buckley guy, and had my sights set on 2 eryri runners in front of me - a decent way off. The other runners that I had been with were already far ahead.
Keeping Breathing. Thats the key. Legs moving, and up the hill. I slowly overhauled a runner. And then another.
Now THAT is something that I haven't written very often in the last couple of years... overtaking on an uphill stretch. 2 scalps on one slope, brilliant. Then steps behind me, and a Merioydd lad came up next to me. We ran shoulder to shoulder up the hill, and a glorious vista of Elidr Fawr appeared, wreathed in snow and just looking amazing. I commented "what a view", and the other guy looked up, and said, "thanks for that, I would have missed it!".
Onward and upward on the track as it became rocky - and he gained distance over me as it flattened before the hairpin and the big climb to the top. I looked left, and Lloyd was already running most of the way to the top, so he wasn't all that far in front. Closer to me, though was the Merionydd runner, an Eryri runner, and 3 others, who were bang in front of me as we turned. On the lower slopes, one of them fell by the wayside, just not able to keep up with the others, and I overtook as well, catching up to the tail end of the front 4 of the group. We ran and walked to the top, with 3 of them escaping a good few metres before the top.... my climbing still isn't what it needs to be. As the eryri guy in front of me and I went over the top, a couple of
Al at the end
spectators said "11 and 12... if you want top 10 you're going to have to catch those lads in front". Who already had a decent gap on us.

The section to the trig point was a bit on the slippery side, and my shoes, already feeling sketchy weren't the greatest of confidence boosters as I slid all over the stones on the top, losing still more time on those in front of me. I hadn't given up, but I was concerned that the downhill section was going to be even more slippy, and that I'd just lose more time.

The plunge downhill came, and although the first section had rocks, then it became grassy, with dead bracken to the sides. It was quite treacherous down the path, where everyone else was going, and thinking about my shoes, I certainly wasn't going down there, and took a slightly different line down the bracken. Surefooted, I blitzed past all the runners in front of me, and down to the marshal before the final climb. Another guy in front, breathing like a man ready to drop, but now an uphill section, and I was running out of steam, as proved by being re-overtaken by 2 of those that I had passed on the downhill section.
A left into the woods, and the merionydd guy comes past, and we run as a group through the forest, up to the final turn and down the horrendously slippery path back to the track, where the guy breathing like a horse slips and nearly takes a tumble.
"Easy". I say, and we all keep formation in line down the path to the track/road section.
Sharp right, and again, those more suited to flat sections stretch away. Its so long since the top of the hill that I have no idea who is in the top 10 and who isn't. A nasty little uphill section, and they pull away some more, before the sharp left, back through the fence, and the descent. The bit I've recced.

And, it seems, the bit everyone else has recced... but they slow down and I catch up. Again, some of them follow the really obvious path, I throw caution to the wind and plough through dead bracken and gorse, overtaking 2, and with the others just in front. Down again, and all 5 of us are chomping at the bit. I'm breathing raggedly, but not as badly as the guy trying to overtake me. Is that a slight stitch I feel? No time to worry about it now.
How far out are we? Can I maintain this pace to the end? Can the others? Who is holding out to the end? Who is on the ragged edge?
Through a bog and over a rise, I accelerate to keep someone from overtaking, and then surge past the Merionydd guy, and another as we pile down the hill, through a puddle, and I lead the group around the corner, with 2 eryri runners stretched in front of us...

Matched pace for pace down the last of the race, I know we have a slight downhill section followed by an all out flat bit to end. I have to keep in front of these guys as it gets tight on the last section. I give it a lot... not everything, but a lot, and wonder if I have gained any distance.
Turn the last corner, and I think... "I've walked down here earlier.... I really should have checked just how
Soup and a roll. Thats how we roll.
long it is".
More speed, and I catch one of the Eryri guys, no idea whats going on behind me, and all of a sudden we are next to the tree that Al and I had identified as "the tree" at which to properly go for the line from, and I kick, expecting some resistance from the runner next to me. I aim for the second eryri guy in front of me, but the line comes too fast, and I finish, maybe a split second behind him, and the rest pile in behind us.
37:40ish... top ten maybe? Not bad at all, considering that it would have got me 2nd in last years race (ignoring changing conditions etc, of course....)
Happy with that.

Perhaps one of the hardest fought races I've had in a while, and one of the most satisfying to finish.
Ok, it might have some track in it, but crikey its a lung opener of a fell race, and really worth the journey down, especially for £4 and the fact that you get soup afterward.
Thanks to the Marshals, to the race organiser - Sir, you have done a fantastic job in taking over from the old organiser, and to Moel y Ci farm for hosting.

Well done to all who ran, and all involved.... there were a lot of you!
Apologies for lack of interesting photos, I was running, and just took pics at the beginning and end...
And when I know the results, I'll post them up, had to get off early to stumble up another hill.

Here they are! Results!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Long Mynd Valleys 2015

The second part of the Glossopdale Shropshire weekend took place just out of Church Stretton, doing that fabulous race which is the Long Mynd Valleys. A decent number of Glossopdale were in attendance, mainly because it is the first of our Championship races this year.
I was keen to test myself on it, and see if I could improve on my time from last year. Post- Titterstone Clee I
Group recce, post titterstone clee
managed 2:00:42. This year, I wondered if there was a possibility of a sub 2 hour race for me, despite the snow on the ground, which would make the going a fair bit tougher.

We arrived early, and could see that the day was going to be a fine one despite the cloud in the valley. Before we started, there would be a fine inversion for those who were on the top of the Mynd. However, it was pretty damn cold down in the valley where we were registering. As more people came in to register, Steve and I had a wander up the first hill, and then a look over the final descent, which was as steep as I remembered it from last year, but underfoot was very hard - frozen, and with very little give at all. It looked like it might well be a fast finish.

As the time came, more of us flocked to the parts of the starting valley which were bathed in sunshine - until we were called over to the starting pen. In the intervening hour between registering and starting I had managed to lose my elastic band with my number on it which needed to be deposited at CP2, so I was rebuffed from the starting pen, and told to find it, or else I would not be starting. No time to argue, I ran up to the registration, asked for another band, which was hastily penned by a volunteer, and then pelted back down to the start pen again.
Thankfully, the organiser was still waffling on about the pitfalls of running without appropriate gear, and where we needed to deposit the wrist band etc, and everyone else was standing around getting cold. At least I had managed to get in a final bit of warm up, even if it was a bit fast for my liking.

Soon enough (but not soon enough to stop us from being freezing), we were allowed to start, and off we went, haring off up the track, which had been pretty slippy earlier on in the morning. I had elected to wear Mudclaws - which have had a fair amount of wear, so not the greatest of grip, and didn't bother with spikes. Considering the race started at 1145, by the time we got to the top of the hill, the really cold ice would at least have been melted a little by the sun.
Well, and I lent Lynne my spikes for her boots as she was walking up some of the more shaded areas of the mynd, and was much more likely to encounter solid ice.

Up onto the first hill, and the guys at the front were still running. I thought about it for a moment, and ran as much as I could before thinking about just how long the race was going to be, and decided not to completely waste myself in the first 5 minutes, and took to a fast walk. There was already a selection being made, and I was not in the front group, but I was in the midst of the second group on the field, which was encouraging. 
The plunge down into Jonathans hollow was quite an interesting experience - last year it was nice and soft and studs sank into the earth and turf as we descended. This year it was rock hard, and if you weren't careful, grip was the first thing to go, so I opted for the slightly rougher line through the dead bracken, which was slower on paper, but faster in practice - overtaking a fair few people.
On the next drag up, I continued to pass some of those that had shot off a bit too fast and was pretty happy with where I was in the race.

The first proper slog of the day followed, and I found myself with Chris Atherton, a few Mercia lads, and Tom Bush, previously Altringham, and now moonlighting at Pennine, so I felt that I was in pretty good company.
Across and onto the top, the snow made itself known, and we ran though ankle deep slush for a while, picking our way through the longer grass to make our way to the bridle way, which was basically an ice rink. Tom Bush caught up and took the opportunity to make haste across the flat plateau, despite the underfoot slippiness.

Through the checkpoint and onward, where I momentarily forgot which was the next checkpoint, and ended up going a bit too far left down the next descent. Thankfully there were a decent bunch of runners catching
Icey on the tops
Tom and I up who were on pretty much the right line, so we swung back right and managed not to get horrendously lost looking for a checkpoint in the wrong place... the ascent out of 3 was a good climb where a Mercia runner, Chris A and I managed to distance a few of the other runners in the group that had caught us up, and at the top, the group in front of us appeared to be closer to us than it had been before- incentive to keep on moving, and get on with it.
A gel was opened and consumed, and it took a good while before I could work out what flavour it was - for some reason my head was saying Pink Grapefruit (I knew I had one of them), but my mouth wasn't reconciling the taste... Must have been going hard if I couldn't remember what apple flavour tasted like.

Across and down... I realise here that I have missed out another down, where Julien, Andy and Andrea were cheering us on, sitting in a suntrap, enjoying their day on the Mynd, great to see them out and about.

I have pretty much no idea how I got to checkpoint 4, but clearly recollect going down the path from 5 to the first of the big hills. There was a mountain biker off his bike clutching his leg part way down the descent, but he had a good gaggle of mates with him that looked like they were sorting him out - nevertheless, I mentioned it to the marshals at the bottom of the hill. The first of the big hills on the return leg.

I had noticed on the way out that a few of the guys I was running alongside were really going hard at it, while I seemed to be not breathing too hard... well, certainly not as hard as them... They were certainly running faster than me, but I had held some back. This next section was the reason.
Jules, Andrea and Andy's suntrap
Running up toward the first ascent, the one with the choice.... left or right. Last year I went right. This year, a group of runners were ahead of me on the right, and a couple of Mercia guys were just with me as we started up... they went left.
Decisions.... go right. 
The first of the hard ascents, no running here, hands on knees and pound out the rhythm, onward and
upward. Tom had followed me, and all the other Mercia runners had gone left. Slightly concerning that the locals had gone the other way, but no time to think too much on it. I tried to catch the guys in front, but despite them seeming to be just out of reach, they crested the top of the hill a minute before me, and had disappeared off the convex hill leaving me a little concerned that I had no idea where the good line was....

I could see runners in the distance going up the next hill, so knew where I needed to be. The group I was following up the hill was far off to my right and a way away down the hill, with a decent yomp across the bottom of the hill before the next ascent... well, I wasn't going to follow them - not with a fabulously rough, brackeny descent that led direct down the hill. Decision made.
Direct line.

I have no idea if I made or lost time with my most enjoyable direct descent... it certainly wasn't as smooth as the line far off to the left, and I have no idea where the Mercia guys got to, but I didn't see any of them for a while. Bracken bashing and slipsliding down the hill, no-one to follow, just trying to make sure that my legs were still going to work for the next ascent.
I leapt across the river at the bottom, passing 2 other runners, and started up the second of the hills. Again, chasing those guys that were just in front of me, yet out of reach.
Until 1 of them slowed, and then another... 2 more overtakes for me, on an uphill section - not something that happens too often, and I was still gaining on them, but then they hit the top of the hill before I had a chance to get on their tails... but this was not a crest with a direct descent, but a traverse around a valley... but a traverse that was this year, deep in snow. A slow, and leg sapping traversing ascent.

I could see a lovely little descent line, with a sharp ascent on the other side, out of the snow, and with my legs still feeling like they had some life in them, I thought I'd try that out. It probably wouldn't be faster when both lines were dry, but with snow around the top... it might work.
Plunge down, and then the grind up... footsteps behind me... some idiot is following me. No idea who, I'm certainly not going to look behind me.
The guys going across the top, or at least the faster ones, were crossing my path quite a way before I reached the top, but another 2 at least had fallen behind, and there was another one just in front of me as I popped out onto the path.

We reached the checkpoint together and punched our numbers on the control, but my legs seemed fresher and I launched down the hill in front of him, not looking back, and never saw him again.
At the bottom of the hill I downed another gel, ready for Yearlet, and the amazingly horrendous climb it was about to present, and made my way to the bottom of the tributary that lead up to the steeps.
Still that gaggle in front of me- and yet, still no sign of the Mercia guys that had taken that left hand line 2 hills earlier. Up to the bottom of the hill, a left, and walk. Walk. Walk up the hill.
me, trying quite hard.
Chase the guys ahead of me, but not too hard, don't want to blow up before the top. There is no time to stop and rest, no time to relax on this climb.... the end is near, and every step needs to count. Every step takes me closer to the end.

Three Quarters of the way up, another guy from the group in front slows and I overtake him on a patch of
snow. Finally, near the top of the climb, I see one of the Mercia guys that had taken the other line... coming up from the nose of Yearlet. He reaches the top before me, and starts the descent... but this time, I know the descent (unlike last year with a bit of a detour), and chase after him. I know there are others close behind, and so don't even slow when we hit ice and snow on the trail.
A flat section, followed by the road crossing and then a final dip and long descent before the closing dash.
I close down the Mercia runner, knowing that I am also being closed down by another runner... with the final fast blast coming up there was no way I was going to fall foul of someone overtaking me.
I overtook the Mercia guy, and went hard to the tree marking the last plunge.
What a superb descent that last line is.
Legs burning, lungs burning I hammer for home, and came in 14th.
1:55:52. A good 5 mins faster than last year.

Just after finishing.
Great race, great result.

Thanks muchly to Lynne for photos and race support, especially as she wasn't able to run the race herself... (she was a bit gutted to say the least).
Thanks also to the non-racing contingent of Andrea, Jules and Andy O - who provided race support and banter throughout the weekend.
And of course well done to all the GDH runners who had some excellent results over the weekend, I hope you all enjoyed it as much as me, enjoyment being more important than results.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Titterstone Clee 2015

It has now happened more than once. Travelling to, or at a race, and someone turns to me and says "I kind of know what to expect this weekend, as I made sure I read your blog from last year about it".
I'm not sure if that means they are better, or worse prepared for the racing that lies ahead.

The Glossopdale mob descended en masse to Shropshire this weekend for the combination Titterstone Clee and Long Mynd valleys weekend.
After a convivial evening in the pub the night before, a convoy of us went over to the start of the short, lung bursting Titterstone Clee race. Andy and Jules decided to mosey on around the Mynd, encountering Tanks and time warps, but thats another story.

On arrival, and on stepping into the hall to register, there was a booming voice enquiring if we had maps for the event, and under no circumstances were we to run the race without a map. Considering this is a 4km out and back race, I thought this was a little heavy handed, especially as the maps on sale last year looked like this....

Which, I grant you, is a map of the area, but a piece of paper with 4 lines drawn on it would probably be just as much help in getting you off this particular hill. That, however, is a whole other debate, which I will, no doubt, get drawn into at a later date. (yes you can be made to carry a map, but that doesn't mean you can read it, etc.etc.)

However, the organiser said that we should tell everyone on social media that he wasn't going to let anyone race without a map, so here I am telling you that if you go to this very short race with no map, they won't let you run. That's a whole new level of officiousness, but if you don't like it, I suppose, don't race.
Maybe I won't be racing this one next year.

Anyhow, Steve Knight and I arrived early to have a bit of a jog up the course, checking out the route, and more importantly, the route back into the finish, meeting up with Lloyd Taggart and another Manx runner who were out recceing the entire course. Well, that'll be at least 3rd then. The snow was still pretty deep on the ground in places, so footing was going to be fun on a long hard run in, and we were certainly going to have to be careful.
Back at the start, we all got herded into the start pen to give in a number to say we were going to race, before being given a speech and moving (finally) to the start line.
None of this ready, steady... stuff, just a Go! And we hurtled away up the road, before a good majority of us jumped over the ditch and onto the moorland. I followed the line I had recced earlier, and there were about 8 people in front of me, Lloyd was off out in front, floating over pretty much anything that came his way, and we blatted across the moorland.
Chris had taken a direct line along the road, before heading up the path and intersected with our line just in front of me and a couple of other runners. The running line was trodden into the snow, and overtaking was going to have to be done in the deeper fluffy stuff to the sides. However, there was a selection being made, and the top runners were getting away.
Despite having been going at a decent pace all the way, uphill, so far, I stepped into the deeper stuff, turned on the power and accelerated past the 3 runners in front of me before getting back onto the track, such as it was. Another guy did the same, immediately overtook me, and put another 5 metres into me. It was all I could do to hang onto the pace that I had used with the overtake. Lungs burning, legs burning, never looking back, I carried on up the hill.

Snow on the ground was thicker the further up the hill we got, and as we got to the steepest part, I could still see the front runners up ahead, running up the steep. So I had to do the same. I was under no illusion that my ascent speed was a whole lot slower than theirs, but still managed to get up the ankle+deep snow slope without breaking into a walk. At the top, just as it was levelling out, Lloyd came flying past me, way ahead of any chasers, then as I moved onward to the top, the next batch of 3 passed me on their way down (who were 1:10 ahead at the top), followed by the guy that had passed me earlier on in the race.

Top, and turn, and make the legs work for the return leg. Steve was pretty close to me at the turn point, as was Karl Steinegger from Ambleside... I certainly didn't have any breathing room, so lengthened my stride across the top. The ice proved slippy, and I nearly came a cropper just before the steep descent, but managed to keep my footing as I hurtled past an ascending John Hewitt. There was the guy in front of me, but he wasn't looking like being in a mood to be caught, so it was really a case of don't let him out of my sight.
Further down the hill I felt a slapping on my shin... shoelace. Argh. And I had tied them well. For a split second the thought was "do I have enough time to stop and .... of course I don't". So I kept going. Down past those horrible stones which were made even more treacherous by the snow and ice, on and on, I'm not going to let anyone catch me.
And then the guy in front took a doozy of a line. We are 500m out from the end, and I must be 20 seconds behind him, maybe I can pull this back.
I take the line Steve and I recced before, and within 200m I'm only about 10m behind him, and closing. Time is running out though, and from here, there is no other way other than straight to the end.
Harder, faster, and I'm right behind him as we leap onto the road for the final sprint. I try to take a super direct line, and so does he, squeezing me into the post of the finish funnel - so I took the only option and launched myself for the line, sliding for it feet first.

We were both recorded at 20:45, but because he stayed on his feet and wandered over to the number recorder before I did, he was recorded at 5th and me at 6th.
Close, in fact, neck and neck, but still split by the bloke with the clipboard.

Steve Knight came in next Glossopdale, surprising pretty much everyone with his prowess at Short, hard races, with Al out sprinting Chris for the 3rd and 4th GDHers home. Caity was first Lady, with Zoe being 2nd, and Alice rounding out the results as 3rd lady home.

The whole thing basically takes about 20mins, and is a superb lung busting effort, and that was shown by pretty much everyone who stood around at the end coughing up bits of nastiness that such hard breathing conjures up from the depths of yer lungs. Having worked in a respiratory ward in hospital, I'd have to say, thats a good thing. Get all that stuff out!

Legs a wibble, we mooched off to the Horseshoe pub for food and prize giving, where Al was surprised to be the winner of V40, and John Hewitt was very much surprised to be the V50 winner. Caity was indeed 1st lady, and the combined chocolateage that was won was happily shared around and about all who were there.

As an afternote, I have to say, that despite the hoo-ha about "you MUST have a map" and various officiousness, no-one was actually kit checked for the map. (sorry to those who run it next year, I've probably cursed you, but you have indeed been warned).