Saturday, 12 September 2009

Standing in the footsteps of giants (well one!)

With no event or race to do this weekend for the first time since god only knows, I came up with the plan of doing a stage of the Wolds Way starting out in the countryside and finishing a mile from my door. I'd done this before in training for my first ultra in 2007 and figured it would be a pleasent way of getting some weekend miles in. I had a huge curry on Friday night which I hope would energise me and hopefully wouldn't give me "delhi" belly or killer wind.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step

My shorter journey was no different. I had to get up and on a bus from Hessle to Beverley and then a second bus to Market Weighton. I had one false start with my "one step" as I slept in till nearly 9, the next bus being at 10.15 would mean a late start by time I'd done the bus thing twice. My first, second, third, fourth and many after were then in vane as I arrived on time at the bus stop only to see it heading off up the road... british transport... early!!

I made the next bus an hour later. I was pretty much the youngest person on there by 35 years. Had I stepped on a national express tourbus by accident? After a slow and round the houses 1hr10 mins journey for the 10 or so miles to Beverley. I just had enough time to use the facilities and grab a coffee and flapjack before getting on the next bus to Market Weighton.

Bellies gonna get ya

The longer journey to Market Weighton took a much more acceptably less-than-20 minutes. Here I got off and set about finidng the road to Goodmanham and my entry to the Wolds Way. To elaborate on the post title, a bit of history, Market Weighton was the home in the 18th/19th Century of "Giant" Bradley - 7'9", 27 stone, the Yorkshire Giant - rumours of eating Lancastrians for breafast are totally unfounded.

 I recalled last time finidng a public conveniences on the way and revisited as the belly took its 4th stab of the day of "clearing out" - to no avail, still got cracking wind now. This is obviously what happens when I deviate from the safety of a Jalfrezi or stronger and go for a mild, creamy curry, combine with peshwari nan, bombay aloo (spicy potatoes), mixed rice, cobra beer.... the list goes on. I spent a minute or two clearing the pipes and reading the bizarre story of somebodies first "manly love" encounter with their sports coach to get a fiver, on back of the door. Very elaborate and I won't take this story any further.

I finally started running just after 1pm, gradual climb out of the town and towards Godmanham. Here again there is history. Here in AD627 a Christian Missionary persuaded  the Pagan king of Saxon Northumbria to convert to Christianity. With the shade temperature probably now in the 20s and there not being much shade, any wind or any clouds I was considering converting from my running paganising as the god of weather had given me a "bum deal" today.

I soon hit the trail as it followed a narrow tarmac road through a pleasent wooded valley. This soon led me to the first proper trail - e.g. not road - as I climbed up onto the wold tops. Not a particularly inspiring section of run backdrop, more farmers fields, but it was plesenatly undulating and nicely even and reponsive underfoot. I was also happier as I had also gone topless at this point to cool down, stashing the shirt in the backpack and hoping the straps weren't going to rub my pale skin.

"Are you completely mental"

More history on these moortops, passing the site of a Roman Ampitheatre, which I will have to take the guides word for (I'm fed up of linking, click the previous link and scroll up if your really interested). I passed a few walkers out "enjoying" the weather, getting some fresh air and usually looking a bit hot and bothered. I passed two, curvy, girls, who'd also gone topless for their walk - calm down they still had bra's on. Being a gentleman, as always, I said "Hello". The immeadiate response from one being "Are you completely mental?" . Damn my lack of quick wit... I couldn't think of a witty retort so kept going, trying to think of one I can then forget to use when asked this question in future.

More fields and a drop into a deeper shallow sided valley the route crosses. The TV mast was visible across the valley at the next high point, the high hunsley beacon, but this was deceptive and still a good 4 miles away. There was first the grassy and quite pretty and undisturbed Swin Dale.

Man vs Sheep

As I said above, Swindale is a quiet place, but is home to a flock of well fed sheep. On one stretch the path is a narrow one between foliage and and electric fence to keep the four-legged ones on-site. As I ran along this a sheep that had somehow got over or around this fence was charging at me, it got to within a few feet and tried to stare me out. I'm no huge-menacing figure, but I think the sheep soon realised who was boss and did an about turn back up the narrow path, away from me at a speed I would have struggled to emulate for long today. I had been victorious in this encounter but had the sheep been brave I'm sure he had the physique to easily run right through me. As I approached the end of this path the sheep was heading back at me. Obviously still not figuring how to get back through/over the fence it had got to the gate and headed back my way. Sensing this could drag on I stood in the foliage and the sheep reluctantly passed. Good result for all involved. I do wonder if that sheep ever got back over the fence?

Anyway, back on track now, as the dale curled south again I climbed out, passing the beacon and mast and soon found myself descending into woodlands as the route got more interesting again. I'd done barely 10m and the energy levels weren't great, heat taking its toll. At least the woods provided 10 minutes of shelter. Then the hard work started again, across the valley where the now defunct Hull - Barnsley railway once ran and a big climb out of the valley, before another short woodland section and a descent to the edge of South Cave. If the first section was high ground and longer steady undulations these were now short and often steep. You'd really have to be going for it to run every step of the next of the next few miles after having done 10n already. I stopped to chew an energy bar as I climbed up Mount Airey and then dropped up and down for the next few miles through woodland and along roads.

Dick Turpin

I passed through Welton within site of the splendid - in that it sell beer on hot days that I should have been drinking rather than this lunacy - Green Dragon. It also has historic relevance (quite the tour guide today aren't I? ;¬)

Here in 1739 a John Palmer was arrested, drunk, after stealing some horses in Lincolnshire and trying to sell them on the other side of the Humber. He turned out to be none other than the legendary and infamous highwayman Dick Turpin.

I was flagging a bit now, I'd detoured from Wolds Way several miles back as it took a round about route to my next location, North Ferriby, and would have made todays run pretty much a marathon. I'd reshirted as now in an area with more people around, also I was getting a sore on my back where the pack was rubbing. I rejoined the trail just outside Ferriby as it heads into the plantation running down to the humber. Hard trails with sharp stones encased weren't much fun. There was also the lottery of whether I'd get to the river and have to turn back and add a loop if the tide were high.

I was lucky, there was a bit of beach to run on. But some conservation work meant it was all churned up with muddy, sinking sand like stuff. So I had to dance over the rocks making up the tidal defence for Ferriby for a while. Passing Ferriby I got a decent path again for the last stretch of W/Way. More history - your so lucky - 4000 thousand year old Bronze Age boats were found here. I think they were oldest discovered in Europe or something like that...

End in site, now the twin towers of the Humber Bridge and end of trail loomed quite large. Problem with large things though, they look big a long way off, but it takes an age to actually get there. The hard trail is nice on fresh feet but my feet were feeling it a bit, I tried to distract myself looking at the almost millpond like river and thinking about what I could eat when I arrived home. After over 2m of following estuary coast-line I finally got to the bridge and soon after I was pushing up the hill for the final mile to home.

~23m, 3 hours 51mins. Probably my fastest prep run for the - now looming - Atlantic Coast Challenge. Not intentional, just an easy and overall downhill route compared to most of my off-road ventures of late. In some ways this meant it was hard work, less stop-start, rough terrain, but more of the solid hard trails which probably give the legs a similar beating to the road runs you'd do for a marathon. Regardless, thats my last 20+mile prep run done, the big day is less than 2 weeks away now. 

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