Despite the title I'll keep try and the negativity to a minimum. In a perhaps inadvisible exercise I had a brithday meal the night before this event + beer and a couple of glasses of wine. I was up earlyish for the near 2 hour journey to one of North Yorkshires most remote outposts. I arrived at Horton-in-Ribblesdale to a carnival atmosphere of cars and tough looking, lean, runners and families preparing for the big run around the large marquee centrepiece under a warming sun just prior to the 10am start.
The 700 hundred or so runners were off at the gun and idled through the streets till we hit a stoney track which eventually hit a path up Pen-y-ghent. This climb seemed ok on fresh legs but I walked any bit that got a bit steep. I had dibbed at the lunar-esque peak well within an hour and was heading back down. As per the A class fell race norm I seemed to be wussing out on the downhill as I shod places like sweat from my warming brow. I never quite understand this as I'm no conservative downhiller in the majority of events - I guess there were lots of experianced nutters out there.
The long run to Whernside didn't seem that hard at first, undulating dry grassy trails that some may consider too easy for a fell race. However, approaching the Ribblehead viaduct I felt that I was tightening up a bit. I tried not to let the looming prospect of Whernside intimidate me. If anything this resulted in me putting too much into the climb. After several steepening fields I finally hit the final scrambling ascent that had been visible for miles. Often ascending on all fours now up the rutted steep approach which I believe is just used for this race. I was definately tired at the top, I'd overtaken quite a few people climbing up and wondered if others felt the same as I tried to get into a stride. The initial descent wasn't easy, lots of rocky footpaths, requiring concentration and fast feet. When I hit the flat approaching Hill Inn I was struggling, without gravity to assist running was difficult and slow as I shod more positions gained on the last ascent.
Ingleborough was thankfully close and I was happy to be stuck in a walking procession on the lower slopes. The expected scramble up the side followed - hard as it was it was at least direct and over quickly. After bagging my third peak I really died on th long, drawn out descent to Horton. Anytime I tried to pick up the pace beyond a meander my stomach area would tighten, making breathing difficult and feeling mildly painful. I've had this before and I can only assume I'd crossed the line into full on fat burning mode, I can still go but only firing on 3 cyclinders. I frustratingly trod on loosing dozens more places and only keeping up with a guys who kept pulling up with cramp and another guy seemingly having the same issue as me.
I eventually dropped into the village and tried to not look wasted as I ran through the finishing field in front of a few hundred spectators and other runners. It was quite nice to do a slightly bigger field event again. With 700 participants this was big time for me in the scheme of LDWA challenges and small field ultra events.
It was nice to finish, I don't like finishing a race in this way. It was a really nice event and its a shame when an underpar performance and tough second half dulls the enjoyment a bit. Positives a many though, great atmosphere, good setup, good beer tent with live music and even good enough weather to give me a vest mark where the back of the shoulders experianced 4 hours and 51 minutes of race day sunshine.
The post-race, summer party, vibe was continued by Mark and I as we hit a few of Ripons finest pubs and the curry house to replace a few thousand burnt cals. We even managed an 11m+ run the next morning around Ripon, Fountains abbey and surrounding countryside. But boy did my quads feel stiff on Monday. This race was now over a week ago and the plan ever since has been run easy and eat well as the Fellsman is fast approaching. This time next week I'll have hopefully completed it!!