Saturday 23rd - How not to get lost like I did previous week, Marsden Moor,
I again met up with Claire, with an almost foolproof plan to run the Marsden Moor Meander LDWA challenge route with a few miles of shortcuts. Claire needed some convincing I knew my way this time and I wasn't going to run us off onto the middle of a snow-covered and featureless moor. So I had GPS, map and route description to hand! No MIUAYGA today, but could nature throw a metaphorical spanner in the works.
We were late to start as Claire was stuck in dense fog on route and then our starting point, a little town hall-type place down an almost single-track road in the centre of the Sleepy pennine town of Marsden, was blocked by a dozen construction workers and a large crane reconstructing an old stone bridge. We eventually met up a few hundred yards away after navigating a few streets and were soon off - spanner deflected!
More of a walk at first as we doubled our height climbing out of the town onto the moor. We soon came up to the first of many sections of the route blocked by snowdrifts. Often deep snow drifts, lost count how many times I said something like "snow not too deep here" or "snow supporting my weight ok" to Clairster, only for me to plunge in past my knees. I was often a "crash test dummy" until we found another runners footprints on our path later on and just stepped in footprints of his/hers that weren't too deep - "local knowledge". Some of the drifts on footpaths were obviously a few feet deep as the snow was stacked up nearly as high as the stone wall. Great fun though - raining spanners now!
The route undulated north past many a half frozen resovoir and then we dropped down and crossed the M62 near its highest point where the road splits around those farm buildings. Fantastic views were enjoyed for awhile as we climbed out of the valley north of the motorway. From the moor you could see the cloud chanelling through the valley below and level with us - but not much higher - so we were in glorious sunshine............. for about 30 minutes, after which we plunged into fog/cloud for nearly the remainder of the trek.
Then followed the climb up to the Windy Hill mast, where it was oddly windless which was probably why we were enveloped in fog/low cloud. More snow -covered paths followed as we worked in and out of valleys towards Standedge Edge north of Saddleworth Moor. When I did the event in the summer the wind was blowing me over up here. However, as with Windy Hill we were still fog bound so I had to try and describe the "great views down over Lancashire" from this last standpoint of Yarkshaa, to Claire.
We were soon onto our second shortcut of the day, cutting off a corner and taking us back towards Marsden. If I do say so myself I navigated par excellence, which I justify as "we lived to run another day". The shortcuts worked out and we didn't vear off-route when the trail ahead was covered in snow as far as the eye could see in the fog. Anything I missed Claire picked up on - what a team - and we hit nearly bang on my estimated distance.
Ironically the sky cleared as we approached Marsden, what a tease that mother nature is. 19.6m, over 150ft up and down per mile. After the final steep descent to Marsden, Clairster headed off to a reward of chips, chips and more chips in Harrogate; and I headed off to indulge in a large pizza.
Sunday 24th - Just when I thought I'd forgotten how to run on a road, York Knavesmire Racecourse, 10am
For something completly different I ran the Brass Monkey half marathon. With no chance of hitting a PB; fearing a tired and hard run I started back of the field rather than cramming in the enclosure. It was chip timed so figured I'd be no worse off weaving though back-packers as the field spread outn tahn starting in the "sheep pen". No warmup so I started with an 8min/mile as the stiffness worked out. Next few were sub 7:30 and by halfway I was closer to 7's. Steady start meant that by 10 I was still speeding up and to my suprise passing people like they were barely moving, running a 6:30 in last mile and under 6 pace for the extra. I managed 1:34:59 (the second being important) line to line, which is second best HM I've done by a stretch, though 2.5mins off best when I prepared and didn't run silly mileage the week before. An unexpected result and makes me wonder if a PB was on with a faster first half? I'll have to do a HM with proper taper soon .......
Nahhh, gimme them, thar, hills