Sunday, 19 July 2015

Holme moss fellrace - 2015


Glossopdale Championship race- Holme moss. Never actually done it before, so an "A" long race around the Peak district should be quite amusing. The Moss race has a bit of a reputation as quite a challenging one, with some tough underfoot terrain and climbs- which although aren't quite Lake district like in their ascent, are pretty steep.
A decent turnout from the club meant that it was going to be quite challenging throughout the pack, no matter how fast you intended to run. The route was well marked, and the weather (although hammering with rain in the morning) turned out pretty well - though with a fierce Westerly that blew throughout the race.

On the start line Mark O was there, as was Ian Mills from Pennine who beat me by a substantial margin in the Welsh 1000's back at the beginning of June. There were also a few fast looking lads out as well, and of course Chris J (who had also run Snowdon yesterday... but is so experienced at double day racing that he should never be counted out of the running).
To the start with Lucy
Kits checks were done on registration, and the start was a decent km up the road from the eventual finish. After a short speech - be sensible etc. we were sent on our way. Despite being pretty close to the front as the horn went, I immediately had to dodge through 3-4 runners who ambled away from the start line at quite a relaxed pace, despite having pushed their way to the very front... whatever.

Ian and Mark set out their stall early and took the lead, stretching out along the track - just a little too fast for my liking, this was going to be a long race, so it might be an idea to keep a bit in reserve. That being said, if they get too far ahead at this stage there would be no way I'd catch them up. Split second decision - catch up and hold on or let them go.
I stretched out and caught them up and we ran along at a fair old pace, me wondering at what point everything was going to fall apart... certainly not yet! Another runner in Black joined us, and we surged up the track, hung a right and onto the moor toward the first descent. Lynne, Lucy and Martin were there cheering us on, and I felt a little incongruous being in the lead group of 4 - but we hit the descent, with quite a bit of time in hand on those behind.

Down and up, all pretty much locked together, and my lungs and legs hammering away thinking... burning
too many matches, going too quick, not even a quarter of the way
Mark pushing the pace
in. On the ascent, Ian started to pull away from Mark, who was in front of me. Not wanting the "elastic" to snap, and let him get away, I put on a little surge to get back up, and Mark and the other bloke followed me up. The run out to Holme moss was beginning, and we ebbed and flowed across the landscape. Bog, mud and grass. Occasionally it would seem like Ian surged, and I had to work a bit to catch him, and we all worked pretty hard out into the headwind. The course was marked fairly well, and it was the final ascent to the car park at Holme Moss where Ian went again... always on the uphills, and I struggled to keep with him - he gained about 10 metres on us, and it wasn't until we hit the short road section to the summit that I managed to pick my legs up again and get right back to his shoulder.
7km in, and I'm in 2nd - in the top group of 4? What on earth is going on? My legs were pretty knackered, but still going well. I was ready at any point for them just to give out and my speed to fall to half of what it was, but they seemed to keep on going.

We grabbed a water at the summit, and headed onto the moor, and went in the wrong direction for about 10 metres before the hive mind settled back in, and we diverted in the right direction, hitting the glorious descent into Heyden Brook.
Photo from Go to his page and support the cause!
I love going downhill, but was still astonished when I overtook Mark, and found myself at the front of the

race as we went past the photographer. The only other time I've ever led a race before was in the first 500m of Wormstones when I thought everyone was going a bit slow. But now I was ahead, and a decent way into the race. Thats just insane. That never happens.
Again - photo from Mozzienet - me leading the race for the first time.

Not only that, but I splashed through the stream at the bottom and started to climb the other side, and realised I'd gapped the other 3 by about 15 metres. Whaaaat?
Steve C
A long way to go yet, and I'm not amazing on climbs anyway. I expected to be caught and overhauled. Caught I was - eventually, but still topped out at the front. Nothing for it but to keep running. I wouldn't have stopped running in training, so why stop in a race? Ian, Mark and I pretty much level pegged across Tooleyshaw moss, following the flags all the way across the sensitive environmental site, past westend moss, and the lovely descent down into Crowden.
Ian and Mark took the path, I was just behind them and took the racing line- which is lovely in the winter when there is no Bracken. Today, it was higher than my head - but although it was high, the places where I was putting my feet were fine, and I burst out at the bottom and over the stile with a decent 5-10 metres advantage.
Down past Nev, who was supporting, and the Mountain rescue chaps who were helping out, I used the
slight distance advantage to grab a cup of water, and then went on up the track - Mark nipping behind a gatepost for a waterbottle that he had obviously stashed previously.

Sharn descending
My legs were going. I figured that I might manage to stay with the leading group to about Crowden, but then the speed would probably tell and I'd be left behind. The 2 steepest climbs of the day were coming up, and then a decent distance was still to be run before the end. Time to Gel.
Through the gate, across the bridge and over to the flags to the climb. Through some horrendous tussocks and bog and, what...? I'm in the lead going up this hill as well?
Calves burning, legs crying to stop, run the runnable bits, walk the non-runnable bits - fully expecting to be passed at any moment. Try to keep the power output as high as possible. Up and up. Calves just won't shut up, but pay them no heed.
To the top, and still, no-one passes me. We 4 trundle along the top, looking for a decent line to descend into Crowden Greatbrook, trying to recover from the uphill, and mentally preparing for the next one. The marshals are visible, high up on top of Laddow, but we have to descend and re-ascend to the same height before we get to them.

A line of runners
Dive down into the valley. Tussocks. Rocks. Bracken. Wayward sheep. This is proper ankle turning territory here, so no hell for leather descents. Mark takes the best line, and is first through the stream, and then the bracken bashing starts in earnest. Mark says "this probably isn't the best line, you know". Damn right it isn't, but I'm unlikely to find a better one just off the cuff. Ian says he recced it previously, and no matter where you go, its pretty horrible.
We must have spent a couple of days in there. Thats what it felt like. Bracken and bilberries, and a lot of bushwhacking. (others evidently took MUCH better lines than us... ie the ones who said, "bracken? what bracken?". I hate them).

Out of the horrendous bit, and still ascending. We hit the scramble, and started to chat. The bloke in Black was Matt, and was more of a road runner, running (or at the time, climbing) for Barlick. I noticed Ian trying to steal a march on us and stretching away up the steep bits, so put in some effort to claw him back.
There was something of a party atmosphere at the top of Laddow with the Jackson clan being well represented. I grabbed a quick drink and hammered after Ian, who seemed intent on getting away. We descended as a 4, with the distance between us never more than about 20 metres.
Still in the top 4. When is everything going to give out? Its been feeling hard since the beginning, but somehow I've managed to keep my legs going.

Ian (wrong place for the narrative, but nevermind)
The Pennine way up to Blackhill. Finally the wind is slightly behind us, and I'm tracking Ian, footstep for footstep. All of a sudden there is movement and Mark eases past and into the lead. "feeling strong Mark?" I ask. He immediately makes about a 5metre gap on Ian. I can close that.
Surge past Ian, right behind Mark who is going strongly, but as the gradient continues, he falters, what else is there to do but go past? I ease past and carry on up - and up ahead, there are 2 people. Glossopdale
hoodies. Jude and Simon in just the right place with a bottle.
Again, I'm in the lead - which feels good, but horrendous at the same time - grab, drink, throw back to Jude, carry on, trying to put in a little surge as we head up to the trig point and another checkpoint, and then off the Pennine way onto an area of SSSI - again, follow the flags and as we head back down toward the mast at Holme Moss, I can't help but exclaim to my fellow runners "what a blimmin brilliant day for a run!".

Footsteps behind me all the way, yet no-one overtaking. Very odd. Can't slow down now, that'd just be silly, so the pace stays the same. Across the great trods of Great hill, we get back to the Mast, the road, and the final 7km of running. Have I gone out too fast? Can I hold on? If it all goes wrong, how far away is 5th?
No drink at the station, straight over the road, with footsteps in hot pursuit.
Down to the moor which we had come across at the beginning and just keep running. Legs getting tired and making mistakes now. Tripping over things, over shooting others, not taking the best lines, but still, unfathomably, ahead. We go in and out of several cloughs, and Mark and Ian don't seem to be so close any more. Just Matt, who is a step away from me. Final descent before the final ascent and I grab another gel. The final ascent feels like I'm running through treacle, even before we hit the steep part.
The first bit, I'm ok, but then lactic builds, my legs scream, but I can't stop. Matt surges past me. Actually surges, and runs some of the uphill.

I have nothing more than the plod that I am currently managing. Within a few short seconds, Matt is 30, 40 yards ahead, and there is nothing in me to respond. Struggling to the top of the hill, I permit myself a glance behind - No-one.
No-one? What?!

Final 2km - a long straight road, and Matt is 300m in front of me. Time to pick the legs up and make sure that no-one else passes me. With this much lead I should be ok - but only if I retain paranoia!
The track stretches out forever, and at the same time is a blur. Finally, I can see the finish - Lynne, Lucy and Martin are there shouting me on, and I lurch the final few metres to the finish funnel. Thank goodness I didn't have to sprint finish - that could have been interesting.
Top 3

Mark came in 3rd, and Chris - 8th - ridiculously impressive considering he raced Snowdon not even
24hours previously. Which means that we came home with the Team prize as well.
Ian from Pennine was 4th, and I'm sure the results are up in the ether somewhere.

Thanks muchly to all the marshals (more than 50 of them), to the GDH support network who I really didn't expect to see out there, and to the race organisers etc, for making a thoroughly decent day out.
My legs don't work now.

Oh- and congrats to Steve Crossman for finishing his first Fellrace in goodness knows how many years - you didn't pick an easy one!
post race kit check

GDH team prize

1st 5

Post race GDH chillout lounge
Caity and Nicky coming in

Steve C

No comments:

Post a Comment