Monday, 19 September 2016

Crosskeys Road and Fell Relay - 2016

the team. Ian, Andy, Steve and Me
It all started when one of the Hunks couldn't make it. Phil Swan was off down south for the weekend doing the Equinox run with family and friends, leaving the other 3 Hunks in Trunks, Ian Oates, Andy Burnett and Steve Crossman, high and dry with no-one for the 4th leg of the relay.
Admittedly, 3 years ago Steve and Ian did 2 legs each, but they are getting on a bit now and wanted to share the beer with someone else. And so I got the shout from Ian, would I like to be a part of the legendary Hunks in Trunks team for the Cross Keys Relay?

Considering that I'm coming back through various niggles at the moment, a short blast on the hills, not in a pack, but essentially time-trialling it (I was to be on the 4th leg), for only 4km and with the bonus of finishing at a pub with some excellent recovery beverages on tap I leapt at the chance.

Phil, although not there in person, was there in spirit as I had to borrow a pair of quite amazing bermuda shorts for the race. None of mine were quite horrendous enough, but the pair I borrowed more than made up for any deficit in racing performance.

Ian started off the day with the road leg. 2 circuits of the considerably hilly course. A drop down from
Ian at the top of the hill on the first lap
the Cross Keys, and then a steady climb, followed by even more of a climb before dropping back down to the pub. I have no idea how many teams there were in the race, but Ian kept in a solid 15th or so place throughout his double circuit, no doubt inspired by the shouts of encouragement and abuse from Steve and me.
Ian showing the effort on the second lap.
A knackered Ian ran into the changeover point and tagged Andy to head off on the second leg - the fell leg. There is only a single circuit for the fellrunners, so we didn't get to see Andy on his way around, and instead chatted to Ian as he slowly recovered before heading to the bar for a pint of well earned Gold, buying Andy's in the process as well, ready for his return.

At the sharp end of the race a lad from Holmfirth Harriers stormed around the fell course in a quite frankly ridiculous 18minutes, putting his team firmly in the lead. Andy took a while longer, but he didn't give his pint time to get warm and was soon tanking down the hill to pass on to Steve for the second road leg.
Andy Flying off the hill to hand over to Steve

Andy calmed down and supped his pint as Steve legged it out around the hilly course, chasing after a fair few teams in front of him. I was still standing around in horrendous shorts getting a lot of funny looks, but I was up next. Steves recent speed work must have been paying off as he overtook about 3 teams on his double lap.
Steve making short work of the hill on his first lap
Standing at the changeover point was interesting as I finally worked out where to look to see when he was coming in, giving me about 30 seconds to get ready for the effort. While I was doing that team after team went through. Some of them were a good few minutes ahead. Andy and I were standing there going... yup, too far ahead... yup, probably too far ahead... might catch them.... might catch them... hmmm. It was looking like it might be a lonely little circuit for me.
Change over to me... lovely shorts. Thanks Phil

Steve came piling around he corner, tagged me, and off I went. Up the road and passed the first guy before we hit the footpath. Nice. A continued upward slope gave me time to appreciate the fact my lungs hadn't yet caught up with the idea of running, and I surged into the boggy bit that Andy had warned me about, noting the dry line on the other side of the wall that apparently the locals always take. Ah! it would be easier over there!

Nevermind, there is another runner up ahead - an overtake before leaving the bog, over a stile and onwards and upwards. In the distance there are 2 more runners- a LONG way up. But they are walking, and for every step I run, I'll be closing the distance.
Hard work all the way up, and I catch the one closest to me after a decent few minutes chase, just as we crest the top of the hill. Try not to stretch too hard on the way down - stitch has been my downfall a lot recently - and further away, now going along the road before the second ascent is the other one that was way ahead of me on the first ascent... oh. and he is chasing another Holmfirth harrier as well.
To the road, and then the second ascent. Trying to keep a decent tempo up as the guys ahead of me slow to a walk... by the time I hit the top it steepens slightly and I'm walking for about 10 steps, before cresting... to a bog. Despite the fact it is well marked, I end up in a grough, splashing through mud and craziness and it takes about 20 seconds to find my way back to the better path.
Splash across the top, and before the Dogleg to turn home, I pass a guy in a harlequin top - the one who Andy and I figured I probably wouldn't catch. Brilliant... the Holmfirth harrier is a good distance away, but always look forward, never look back...

Along the tops and back to the final descent I can feel the distance closing, the descent begins and I make the easy overtake, over a stile, down the narrow path to a stile and the final glorious grass descent. No pain, no stitch, overtaken 6 teams, feeling great.
Andy and Ian were shouting at me from the bottom, so no time to hang about. I hammered to the bottom, passed the dead sheep, and nearly stuffed up the final stile, but no stopping, just a sprint to home and 11th place overall.
Recovery beverage. Jeez. I didn't realise how nasty the shorts were til Ian sent me this photo. I must apologise to everyone at the event!

Sun. Good company. Good beer. Lovely little day out. Thanks for the invite.

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