Monday, 12 November 2012

Roaches Fell Race, 18 miles

Well, like many people who've done a Bob Graham, the period following it is a bit of an unknown. Well, that's not strictly true as I knew I was doing the 3 Peaks Cyclocross, but that's all I knew.

And to be honest, apart from regular as clockwork leg beatings on Tuesdays (Road Bike Chaingang) and Thursdays (14 mile headtorch runs), I've not really been arsed to do anything that looked remotely like racing
River crossing was fun (Photo edited on iPhone !)
And it's been great not racing for once. Just enjoying what came along really, family stuff, a weekend in Coniston drinking (with some running!) and other non serious stuff.

Now, I don't know what came over me Friday afternoon at work - I suppose it was the thought that I'd got another weekend of "not a lot on", just a few training bits probably so I thought I'd just check to see if anything was kicking off locally and there it was - shining out like a beacon of muddy pain - The Roaches Fell Race. 18 miles of out and back torture. Perfect !

I'd done this race back in 2008 and remembered it being surprisingly hard. It starts at Tittesworth Res (north of Leek) and runs north along the Roaches before descent, river crossing, climb, descent, climb, descent, climb (you get the picture) all the way to Shutlingsloe, a true proper mini mountain and most of it through very very boggy fields. Then it's a small matter of retracing the route finishing through some of the wettest muddiest fields I've ever encountered anywhere. About 4 of them!

First race since about July, so I thought I'd take it steady on the 'out' and attack on the 'back'.

Well after a substantial amount of 'steadiness' I didn't know whether to be worried or pleased when I found myself in about 20th place approaching Shutlingsloe. Adopting the classic felllrunners fast walk up it's steep sides, I found myself passing then overtaking 2 guys just before it's summit. Very surprising as I'd taken it quite steady. The summit marshall gave me the good news that I was in 14th place. Great I thought.

Starting at Merebrook (bottom) it's 18miles up to Shutlingsloe and back.
Turning south and heading off for the headlong grassy descent, I just took it steady and waited for the runners I'd just passed to come gliding past me on the way down. They didn't and even more surprising I actually overtook 2 runners on the way down ! Now that never happens!

"Right" I thought "time to go fast but not redlining it". The plan worked and I pulled away from most of the guys behind apart from one who kept with me until the climb after the river crossing. Clearly, not a climber (or someone who had underestimated this hard race) he backed off and wished me well. You don't get that in many sports now do you ?

I kept it hard but within limits for the next 3 mile climb and was very surprised to see 1 then 2 then 3 more runners come into view - this never happens either! Again, it just goes to show how easy it is to underestimate this race as I'm sure they'd all overcooked the first half and were just clinging on now.

Route Profile with the very pointy Shutlingsloe visible in the middle
Just a run over the summit rocks then now but soon I heard Ross Litherland come up then pass me at a very convincing speed. I'd not seen him at all in the race, so I guess he went off slow like me and speeded up. Fine running Ross.

The fields at the end really are horrific. Nature couldn't seem to decide whether to put a stream or a field there, so it decided to put both in one place. Very very tiring and hard work, but I knew about them, so saved a little back for them and with no one behind it was a leisurely cruise to the line.

Very pleased with 10th on such a beautiful Autumn day. Staffordshire looked absolutely stunning. I must say, I really did enjoy every metre of that race.

10th out of 134 finishers
Results here
Results 2008 here (2:26:57)

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