Thursday, 19 April 2012

Calderdale Hike : 37 mile, 2200m, 6h6m, 8th

Last Saturday saw the first of my Fell Races for the season kick off and yes, it was a long one ! Well, according to the RunFurther website, it's a medium one but their definitions are a bit skewy.

New route this year. They change it every 3 years.
This was my first fell race this year and to be honest my first fell race in years and years that hasn't been plagued with an upset tummy. Actually, it's also the first race in ages where I've felt very confident with how I'm running going into the race. Quite a nice feeling !

This race is the second one in the Run Further Ultra 2012 series. An increasingly popular series which has probably been going for 6 or so years now which pulls the top races into a league system with points attributed from your top 4 results from races which must cover a race in each of the distances,

Short (up to 35 miles)
Medium (35-45 mile)
Long (50+ mile)

Ultras are always an unusual one in that you can actually chat to the people around you (well, I do !) as you're probably gonna get to know em quite well over the next 6 or so hours so why not make it more enjoyable.
Start Line : Sowerby Cricket Club

I started off at the same pace as Helen Skelton - eventual winner of the ladies race and a good source of local info about this race ! Well, we tried to chat on the way to CP1, but to be honest the pace was a little too saucy for both of us !

Don't know what all the guys around me were doing come the first grassy descent, but needless to say I made a good few places up, only to lose them again on the next climb - I'd not got that bit of map in my back pocket as I'd assumed there'd be loads of people to follow. Oops !

We soon formed a group of about 5 of us approaching Stoodley Pike - emblem of the Calder Valley.
We maintained the group all the way up through the Golf Course and then on to Hoof Stones.  Mark (Liptrot) had reccied the tricky bits 2 days before so it was a group choice - he clearly wanted to run it on his own and I think he'd have preferred clag so he could have shaken some of us off ! But as it was great visibility and none of us knew the area, then we'd be stupid to go any other way ? We followed his direct line towards Gorple dam where we very quickly picked up a 4wd track leading us all the way there - amazing ! I told Mark that I owed him a beer for that descent. We ticked off the CP's now as just a threesome, Mark, myself and Chris Davies - a very experienced Ultra runner who we worked out that we'd both finished the Long Mynd Hike together about 4 years previous (my last Ultra). Small world.
Lots of bumpy bits. About 2,200 of them !

Chris set a very keen pace up to Withins and Mark was getting distanced soon to regain us. After Withins, Mark shot off again on a seemingly tiny trod - only to be seen 15 mins later about 400 metres ahead of Chris and me !!

Chris hammered it down the road descent out of Tom Stells seat and we'd caught Mark up just after the res. Conversation picked up (and pace therefore slowed !) all the way to Grain Water Bridge where Mark unveiled another of his epic reccie results - a flat route to the next CP ! Well, with hindsight this one lost us time as it was at this point that we were overtaken by Kev Holt who was clearly running very well anyway. I think we lost about 5 mins here which is what we were behind Kev at the end. Can't argue with Mark's choice though - I knew no better.

The climb out of Pecket Well was the first one where the legs knew I was climbing and for the first time my map came out (1:25000). I actually navigated us over Delf Stones Edge picking up the correct small trod - at last - I'd added something to the group !

Mark picked the pace up down through Luddenden - so much so that I think he was trying to make a break for it ! Down the canal and through a few ginnels put us onto the final climb to Sowerby Bridge. Thankfully Mark made a break at the church and Chris and me were happy to let him go - he deserved it for recceing it tbh.

8th place and a great day out ! Lovely views, nice food at the end, friendly marshalls all day and sunshine. What more can one ask !

Fingers crossed now for the Fellsman in two weeks