... " a quick 20 miles"? Now there would be a novelty! My running hasn't seen a "quick 20 miles" for many a moon! Probably because most of the miles have their fair share of obstacles in the way like hills, rocky and stoney paths, mud and generally too many miles to make "a quick 20" a foolish thing to do!
So, having satisfied my lust for the tarmac loop for a while it was back to the business of the fast up and down type. The Bishop Hill race was next on the agenda. I wasn't really looking to do a long run but had to get a few miles in so I elected to run over Benarty Hill to Scotlandwell to the race start, about 7 miles and the same back. Add that to the 2 and a 1/2 ish and 1000 or so feet of the race and it was a good wee run out. I set off and after some nice easy running I realised I had mis-judged the time and was going to miss the start if I didn't take some short cuts. So, after some eye-balls-oot-running through some mucky fields over some high fences and through some jaggy hedges I made it to pick up my number with about 5 minutes to spare. Off we went and after about 3 steps the course dips down into a nasty "trench" then out again and then another 10 steps, the snotters are flying and you're into the climb. Pete from Carnegie was doing only his 2nd hill race and shot off like a rocket so Tommy and I went with him and stuck together more or less the whole race, just managing to pass him on the last descent and Tommy passing me to finish a couple of seconds ahead in 8th place, me 9th and Pete 11th. It was great to see lots of Carnegie vests too, 18 in all, a fantastic turn-out for a club that only had a few hillrunners until recently. After munching soup and rolls back at the hall I jogged back home at a much more leisurely pace happy with my afternoons Bishop bashing!
Next up was the High Peak Marathon. As I mentioned in a previous post the organisers should be sued under the trade descriptions act because there are no high peaks, just huge bogs and rolling hills, and it's 40 miles as opposed to a marathon! The idea is to run in teams of four starting at 1 minute intervals from 11pm carrying the required kit for an emergency overnight stop, if necessary. I ran this last year and swore at the end I would never do it again, it was a nightmare of bogs, rain, darkness and sleep deprivation but here I was again! My team had had to have a few changes due to injuries so Francis and I were the only two from the original entry with Sam stepping in to use the race for MDS training and Neil who saved us at the last minute since Oscar dropped out with an injury. Oscar had generously offered to meet me and Victor (who was running in another team) in Longtown on the way down and do the driving, which was a huge help as we would run all night then have to drive home in the morning. So, we found ourselves in the unusual setting of the Chinese in Longtown ordering a large chips and curry, not my usual pre-race meal but I reckoned it would do the job in terms of carbo loading for the night. Oscar arrived and we drove down to Edale, met the rest of the guys and at 11:38 pm we were off. I must say my curried chips were a treat, they fueled me up a treat and I didn't really eat anything apart from the odd sweet until about 7:30am at Snake Pass where I had a cheese sandwich. Sam commented that he was eating the elite Scottish athletes food of choice, shortbread. But it was fairtrade shortbread. Are there lots of shortbread makers in Scotland sitting in their wee crofts being beaten down in price by the supermarket giants he asked??! I must check that one out.
Welcome to the Moscar buffet
The night-time bogs provided the usual amusement, I laughed heartily at one point when I was suddenly submerged half way up my chest in freezing bog. It wasn't so much a case of being careful not to lose a shoe but more like hold onto your trousers or you might lose them!
It was a relief to see daylight as we reached the flagstones of the Pennine Way, this was where it became runnable again but the problem was convincing your legs of that. It had been a real team effort so far with Francis doing a fantastic job of navigating through the featureless terrain all night, but now Sam and Neil were feeling it so we had to pace it right for the run in to the finish. We all had our ups and downs and kept a good steady pace to finish in 10:56:30 only a minute slower than last year, consistent or what??
Feeling the pain on Win Hill
Finally, to round off a good 3 weekends of running was the Wuthering Hike race. 33 miles of good trails in North Yorkshire, very runnable and my 3rd time of running it. I travelled down again with Victor, now having built up an immunity to the noxious smells which emit from his backside on a regular basis, but I was glad to hit the fresh air of Haworth with only about 10 minutes to go to the race start. About 250 of us crowded into the cobbled street at the start and we were off, jostling for position and chatting away until we were out onto the open trails and into the strong headwind. I kept with a large group for a bit getting some shelter at the back but slowly we split up until I was running with two guys, a Calder Valley runner and a guy from Stockport. We stayed together for most of the race until the CV guy dropped off before the Horse Bridge checkpoint then I left the Stockport runner as I pushed the pace towards the Lane Head checkpoint and felt strong as I overtook a runner looking pretty wobbly and then a pair before managing to blast the last couple of miles into Haworth finishing in 4:41:09 and 5th place.
That's the adventures up to date for now, February's mileage was 245 miles so keeping it steady. I'll be taking it a bit easier for a week or so before embarking on an adventure of a slightly different kind.... will keep you posted.