Calderdale Way Relay

Pairing up & ploughing on…

Running as part of a team is a novel experience for a runner.  Although many of us form part of a club (and a running community) as individuals we run for ourselves, all display some level of competitiveness and – other than grunt here or grimace there – we very rarely share any communication during a race.  So, many can seem a bit bewildered when invited to run as a pair as part of a multi-leg event.  The Calderdale Way is a circuit approximately 60miles in length and over 5000ft in ascent.  It comprises woodland, country roads, footpaths, bridleways, bogs and field paths.  The scenery around Halifax and the Calder Valley is amazing and if the wind blows the terrain is challenging.

I was running Leg 6 with a stronger, faster clubmate.  We stood with spectators and other runners on the grass at Shelf Country Park.  The race had started at 8.00am so hardly surprising at almost 2.00pm that over 25 teams would be released on to the ultimate leg at the same time.  The Park was the changeover point (COP) for leg 5-6.  Most of the other runners were relaxed and equally accepting there’d soon be a mass start.   A few Leg 5 pairs managed to get their team mates off a few minutes before the mass start; these guys would be the hares and the rest of us adopting the role of chasing greyhounds.

The Leg can be run fast with only one moderate hill between miles 6-7 – mind you, this was still sufficiently hard to reduce me to a walk.  This was largely due to the alarming speed with which we’d completed the preceding 5 miles – quicker than I’d ran for some time with mostly marathon and 3 Peaks training only.

I’ll remember this leg for a few things:  laughter and jovial banter at the start that echoed off the beech trees as we crossed a few footbridges, shuffled up steep banks and trudged through muddy paths lined with bluebells….. the dark storm clouds that blocked out all available views of Halifax (some may say fortuitously)…. the lady who handed me the most delicious jelly baby with a few miles still to grind out.

Ok, so Leg 6 doesn’t have the same scenery as the earlier stages.  But it’s still a challenge.  It has a range of terrains and enough obstacles to break a runner’s rhythm; not to mention the need to navigate through villages, towns and across main roads.   Leg 6 combines everything into a linear 10.5miles package: woodland trails, field footpaths, country tracks and a canal towpath.  It also includes kissing gates, wooden and stone stiles, footbridges, viaducts and cobbled streets.

With little left in the tank (certainly nothing to reel back the Ilkley pair) we stomped along Stainland Road, down into the rugby field and finished the leg in a little over 1.34 (averaging 9min/ miling) that contributed to the team total of 9.06 (62nd / 90teams).

Thanks have to go out to the support from my running partner – excellent motivation and considerate of the need for teamwork.  Key things to look out for when running as a pair:  agree a strategy preferably on the reccie or at leg start…. willingness to open stile gates or navigate for a slower partner….. distance between pairs during the race legs – greater than 20 metres can be dispiriting for the slower runner; whereas side-by-side might be too comfortable (and may even lead to too much conversation!)… perhaps above all, watch how pairs congratulate each other (if at all) at the finish!

Many thanks to all officials and marshals from Halifax Harriers AC – great event!. Again!!

Roll on Bradford Millennium Way!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s