Friday, 7 August 2015

Cracken edge fell race 2015

Obligatory race entry photo
So this is a little late, I must apologise for having little time to catch up with myself.
This is pretty much an annual fixture for me as a memeber of Glossop mountain Rescue. Kinder MRT are the organisers for Cracken edge, and basically threw down a challenge a good few years ago to all MRT teams around and about to see whose teams had the fastest runners.
(I think it may have been a bit of a joke to begin with, in fact, it is all taken in good jest now as well), however, there is the rather marvellous "buzzlightyear" trophy, and the fastest 3 runners from each team win the trophy and completely non-exisiting bragging rights for the next year.
We had 4 runners this year, I believe Kinder fielded 1 runner, and so did Woodhead. So I think we won by default, but we still had a bit of a lively race anyway.

I ran in Glossopdale colours, as ever - though nearly ran in trousers, as I completely forgot my shorts.... they were laid out quite neatly at home, but they just didnt get into my bag. Luckily, someone had a spare pair (thanks Judd). 
There was a decent crowd out from GDH, perhaps not as many as Pennine, but there were a good number that crossed the divide for the craic and amusement. Also, Cracken edge is a great race because it is (in general, and in theory) a horribly runnable course. There really aren't many bits where you HAVE to walk.
Mark Burton and Chris Leigh, current Pennine Speed Merchants were there to give each other a bit of a run for each others money, and from the off, they went off like someone had told them there was a Mettricks Pork Pie at the top of the hill. I reckon they had about 100m on everyone else in the race within about 3 mins. Impressive considering that the first section of the race goes up quite a gradient. Its slightly slippy, but, as mentioned, if you're not caught behind someone, horribly runnable.
The forming queue
At the top of this section, apparently Lynne was cheering us on, I was in the mix - well, I was about 15th, way behind Chris who had got a pretty decent start, and was striding out, and I was going blind with the effort (apparently cycling to and from work isn't actually considered a warm up). There were a good few people between us, and although I didn't need to queue to jump the stile, I had to wait for the guy in front to faff a bit. (and although there was a queue further back, I still have no respect for those who jumped the queue because they were impatient. Yes, it might be a race, but if you can't run up the damn hill as fast as those in front of you, be polite, and be respectful of their effort to get there before you, either that, or if racing is THAT important to you, learn to run faster so that you get to the stile before a queue forms).

Up through the field with a single track... those in front were too slow, so I deviated slightly to the right onto the rougher ground, with deep grass and fired on past 3 people, closer to where Chris was - by now, there was a definite lead group of 2, a second group of 3 - 4 of those 5 were Pennine (through legacy and transfer), and they were all looking particularly strong.
Through the gate and to the mast, I overtook Stefan, who was destroying me with alarming regularity earlier on in the year, and a couple of others, but I was still chasing Chris - who appeared to be absolutely on fire this evening. Down through the marshy bit, a guy in Salomon fellcross overtook me with ease, but as soon as it got a little choppy, I overtook again, took the next 2 guys as well, and by the time we hit the short track section, I was side by side with Chris, who was happily saying hello to the marshals, taking the mick out of unicyclists and also rocketing along at a fair pace making it look easy.

Past Phil- part 1
Down to the left turn for the next hill. As ever. Runnable. The guy in the salomons comes past, as does another guy. I slow a little, legs feeling it - its not even a hill yet and I'm getting overtaken... the cycling must have taken a fair bit out of me, I tell myself. As long as I'm keeping in front of chris, thats ok. I ease up a little, but have a little dig in a little toward the top, hang a right and pass Phil Swan - out on the course taking photos. (thanks phil). Down the track, it gets choppy again, and I swoop past mr. fellcross, never to be seen again. Down a bit more, and then... footsteps behind me. Getting louder.
There is someone going faster than me downhill... what? I must be getting lazy.
Accelerate a bit, but he's still coming, so I let go a little more and head towards the gate. Still, he takes a slightly better line at the gate and overtakes me. Crikey. Thats not good. A guy in a fat boys vest, and evidently a pretty swift descender to boot. We have a steep road descent next, so I'll try and stay with him.

Ahead of us are a Buxton and Dark Peaker taking the hill at speed.
Down the hill, and I surprise myself by taking the Fatboys runner easily, and putting some distance between us, nearly catching with the 2 in front of us - but they have about 15-20 metres on me at the bottom as they go over the stile, to the long grind up through the quarries.
Now THIS bit is runnable. I remember the first time I did this and cursed myself for having to walk bits of it. Never again.

Taking it at an easy pace, I keep the Dark Peak and Buxton guys in sight, steep for a few steps, easy for a few, steep for a few, easy for a few. Far ahead in the distance I can see a Pennine vest near the top, going hard. Behind me are the hard breathing chasers. If you stop now, you lose a load of places for sure.
Steep. Easy. Steep. Easy.

The distance to those in front never gets any smaller, I have no idea about those behind. Through a couple of gates, and then the climb to Big Stone. A massive burst from one of those behind me, and although I was running up toward Big Stone, the Fatboys runner was really giving it some, and overtook me, we powerwalked up the really steep bit, and were met by Andy Howie at the top, before we ran down to the next stile - the guy seemed to have given a little too much, as I easily overtook him, and got over the stile first, across the moor, and the Dark Peaker and Buxton guy were still not getting any closer, and as we ran down toward the right turn where Phil was, the blimmin Fatboys runner came past again. No way.
I need to start thinking about my downhills.

Being overtaken. Good motivation from now on.
At this point, I was pretty confident about my position in the race, I was happy with where I was and was thinking of easing up. Chilling out and having this as my lot. Then I remembered something I had read a couple of days ago. Why bother entering a race if you're not going to suffer. You might as well just go for a bit of a bimble. Why on earth would I run hard for the first half and then cruise the rest. Don't I want to know what I'm actually capable of in the second half?
For goodness sake. Move your legs and damn well race.

deciding to race.
Acceleration along the flat- not something I'm great at, but I took a better line, and overtook the fatboys guy, along the track, and the 2 runners ahead get through the gate well ahead of us- but heading to a downhill  - the last real downhill of the race, and its a long one.
We hit the gate a good 10-15 seconds after them - I opened, he said thanks, but there was no way he was having me on this descent.
Straight down, hitting a good line, I could head him directly behind - but not overtaking. Bit by bit we gained on the Buxton guy and by the time we hit the slightly steeper bit, I was shouting "coming through on left" and barrelled past, closely followed, I suspect by my pursuer.
Hard right and I was nearly on top of the Dark Peaker, down into the dank, slippy descent into the wood, and a bit of nifty footwork and brazen descending, I passed him and plunged downward.

Just prior to the final down
Last year, from this point, I lost 2-3 places. This year, it wasn't going to happen. Through a couple of gates, and then the final 3 fields. I could feel the guys behind me, but had no way of telling just how close they were. No looking back now. For one thing, what was I going to do? Run faster? I might as well run as hard as possible and not take my eyes off the ground. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the final steeper field. Straight on through the fields. I can never remember which is the last one... is it the next one? or the one after? or even the one after that? No idea, just run.

Caity giving it beans at the end
Lynne is there, shouting me on, and telling us to take care over a slippy stone in the wall gap, and there it is, the final downhill.
I got this.
Maybe my legs don't. Gravity takes over and I have no idea how I stay on my feet, nor do I have any idea how I'm going to stop, but I hammer it home, and come in 6th. A decent haul, considering I was thinking about cruising in and maybe ending up 9th, 10th or so.

Al from GMRT came in 14th, and Chris Gregory made up the team. Patch was also running, and came in a little later, making sure he was giving his Ultramarathon pace a good practice.
Pennine got a great haul of prizes, but didn't quite manage a clean sweep. GDH had a great showing with 11 of us running, and we certainly made the most noise cheering in our other runners.

So Glossop Mountain Rescue retain the Buzz Lightyear trophy again. What a lovely evening out, and a great race to boot. Thanks to Jonny Wilson (the descending fatboy), Austin Frost - the Dark Peaker, and Jason Bennett- the Buxtonite for spurring me into action. Though the exertion might cost me this weekend at the Long Tour of Bradwell... we'll have to see.

No comments:

Post a Comment