I'm getting a bit behind on these reports, here we go....
The 20 mile+ events just keep coming. This was another organised by an LDWA group, this time The Irregulars. Running in this area, the Colne Valley, was also a first for me. To ready myself I imagined it would be something like the mudfests in Calderdale, just to the North. In reality it was far more runnable, part due to reasonable conditions of late, part probably the route choice of organisers.
Got there with plenty of time before 8:30 start so was able to top up the 6am porridge with tea and toast - a small thing, but it all seems to help. Promptly off at 8:30 and I made schoolboy error of not getting near the front in a walker dominated event. There was a narrow bridge after 10 yards so I wasn't going anywhere fast. Like a lot of these events there is quite a steep climb almost straight away heading out of town to get the blood pumping. I also knew I'd need to be more navigationally-minded than in higher profile events as there weren't many runners and we'd soon spread out over Slaithwaite Moor. This first section was at times uneven, rocky and a bit muddy and soon led to a small valley crossing and across the first - of many - dams on Deanshead Reservoir. Before not to long the M62 was in view and earshot. Took me a bit of time getting to the road, crossing Saddleworth Road, with another descent and some quite wordy instructions. Soon I was through the tunnels under the split carriageway into a steep wooded descent and down beneath a dam wall (Booth Wood Res) to CP1. Cheese and pickle sandwiches, what a start :¬)
Climb up onto towards the next moor now and a bit of indecision over the instruction "in about 75 turn left onto track" cost me 5 mins. I went down it, then thought it was too well made to be a track and much less than 75 yards up road. I headed back checked out further up before heading back. A bit annoyed with myself I pushed on wanting to see if I could catch somebody in front to run with. Past a farm and through a few fields got me onto the moortop, plenty of navigational aids along way and decent footing meant a nice long stretch of running. This continued off the moor and down a track towards the next dam crossing at Green Withins Res. Damn these Irregulars like their Dams! Still good going so ran all the back to and over M62 to nearby CP2. It was Windy at this CP on the accurately named Windy Hill beneath the radio masts. Chocolate crispies were the order of the day.
Around the Windy Hills and dangerously close to Lancashire now ;¬) but a South-eastern turn took me to Piethorne Res. I enjoyed this bit, contouring between and around the lush green hills of the area and then down to and across the edge of Dowry res to CP3. Flapjack and then onwards on the pennine bridleway. Caught up with a few more runners at this point and feeling good. Onto the Oldham Way and then up onto Castleshaw Moor where the path got less distinguished through peat hags, but still with marker posts to keep us on the right track. Myself and the four runners I was closing on now rejoined the pennine way as it ran along gritstone edges. We all leaned at comedy angles towards the cliff edge to counteract a brutal strong wind blasting from the lower lands to the west. Just occasionally a gust would shift you sideways midstride or a gap in the wind would have you swerve towards the cliff edge!
Thankfully we dropped out of the worst of the wind to a main road and the final CP. 17.5m, just before scheduled opening time of CP but thankflly they were open. The final section saw a following of the pennine way, rounding another reservoir mostly on a paved stone path. Not sure how they laid this but its superb and good to run on even when the rain started and it got a bit wet. This long, fast section culminated in a long, steady, descent shadowing Blakely Clough before crossing it and climbing to a small radio mast. It was a steep descent from here, so I went down as safely fast as I could. I crossed the bridge at the valley bottom and climbed to the self clip.
It was now downhill all the way. This was quite pleasent as I seemed to have downhilled a lot of late so half expected a sting in the tail. There must have been a lot of Stealth climb throughout - gradual, almost unnoticable height gain which made the descents more noticable. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't easy, over 3200ft ascent and descent, but rarely have I enjoyed hills so much. I picked up the pace so "road run" speeds on the wide smooth track alongside Blakely and Butterley reservoirs. The tarmac road into Marsden was actually too steep and stung legs, used to softer surfaces for 21 miles. Just a few easy instructions to get through Marsden and I was back at the parochial hall where I'd started 4:16 earlier. Thoroughly enjoyable and well organised, ticked a lot of boxes without being excessive in difficulty, or dificult underfoot. The post-event meal was usual good standard, a nice bit of pasta and then banana's in custard, winning choice.
I think I'll be back for this one in years to come. Cheers "The Irregulars"!
Rules of post race recovery were observed back in East Yorkshire, guiness - for Iron - lager - for hydration - BBQ - for protein and carbs. Sorted!