Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Long Tour of Bradwell, 33 mile 6,750ft

This was going to be a day I wanted to enjoy for many reasons. Firstly, it's the last big race before my Bob Graham Round (about a month away) so I needed to feel 'good' about my performance. Secondly, the weather forecast was awesome - perhaps too awesome. Thirdly and unlike every other Ultra I've raced this year I knew the whole route (or so I thought!) so no worryingly scratching around at maps which takes a bit of the pleasure out of a race IMO. Fourthly it was local, so no 3h drive home.

This was also to be Graham's first Ultra and his longest race by a long stretch. Graham's a great runner and I really did expect to get a good pummelling by him, but wondered by just how much ?

The day started cloudy, but I think we all knew it just had to burn off. Assembling in Bradwell at 855, announcements were made and a few familiar faces were around, then we were off - round past the cement works and up Pindale.  Graham slowly made about 20m on me by the time we got to Dirtlow Rake something I was more than happy with as I knew my pace was fast but fully maintainable.

Conversations started with fellow runners when it flattened out before Cavedale. By the bottom of Cavedale I found myself running with Jon Hedger. Jon had won the previous Ultra race in the series, the Osmotherley Phoenix, so I knew sticking with him might not be all that wise !

Almost immediately Jon pointed out that I knew him better than I thought as we had been grouped on the Fellsman in May but due to the dark / hats / headtorches and waterproofs, I had no idea it was him ! I congratulated him on his recent success and soon realised we were running similar pace both up and down.

Nav to the Druids Stone was spot on and we arrived with Graham who promptly left us for dead on the descent to the Edale Road. To be fair, our route was pretty dire and several runners caught us on the descent.

The climb to Lose Hill was the first to suffer the heat of the day so felt all the harder for it. The pace was now fast but comfortable which turned to a bit too fast on the decent into Hope ! I felt pretty shattered by the next control so thought I'd run my own pace from here, which as it happened was at least as fast as those around me!

Still with Jon, the climb up and round Win Hill was beautiful with the heather in full summer glory. We ran together now all the way to lower Burbage and I think we both pushed slightly too much as several times on Stanage I felt I had to just let him go, but managed to stick with him. As it happens, I think it was Jon that pushed too hard as he faded badly in the latter sections.

The Contol on the River in Bamford, Photo Courtesy of Nick Ham
All went well until after the Lawrencefield control. The route on the day took a completely new line to that I'd reccied. In fact, I lost the taped route within about 5 metres - seeing only 1 bit of tape ! Bugger. Looking at the splits I lost 5 mins here compared to those around me. Never mind, I soon settled into a very good pace on the hard section along the river to Leadmill. 

I was determined not to walk any of the next section which I basically managed. I did stop however briefly to chat to Jon as I re-overtook him on the climb to Stoke Ford.

After Stoke Ford the wheels well and truly fell off. With hindsight this was a combination of pushing too fast with Jon but mainly not enough food. I took Jelly Babies and caffeine gels - the latter I really didn't want to overdose on for fear of not being able to sleep, hence I really only took Jelly Babies - this wasn't enough.

I can honestly say that I've never had to dig as deep as I did before during and after Abney. If anyone was watching me, I must have looked like I was about to die I think! Still, I knew that very soon it was one long slippery descent to the village and then a half mile run through the town to the line so I gave it absolutely everything I could.

Crossing the line I was pleased to find out I was 5th in a time of 5h 45, which was roughly the time I'd expected with Graham finishing in a stonking 5h 35. 

And yes, all my boxes were ticked in terms of enjoying the day and feeling good - especially as I'd not done anything at all long since May !!!

GPS track here
Results here
Nick Ham's write up and photo's here


Nick said...

Excellent result Alan, especially considering you hadn't done any long events for three months.
You obviously missed the head-smashing tree at Stoke Ford (otherwise it would surely have got a mention).

Alan Billington said...

Cheers Nick - yeah I missed it - luckily by the sounds of it !!