Soreen Stanbury Splash – 18th January, 2015
Running is mostly about numbers: dates, distances, pacing and sometimes even chip times. Yesterday was largely different: a last-minute route change due to weather, loan of my Garmin watch to a novice and the rough and tumble of a fell race across wintry, West Yorkshire moorland. It was all unpredictable. I only really knew the date. And this would become a bit of milestone.
The route squeezed into single file after an open, frenetic first mile; only the brave (and perhaps foolish) deciding to hurdle out into white heather, and an uncertain ground beneath. The brown darkness of peat bog path was soon replaced by a snowy, ice-puddle track that allowed a brief burst of overtaking and isolated placement shuffling. Small steps were replaced with longer, more purposeful strides.
Further on, leg-sapping soft uphill gave way to tiring steps through powder soft snow between florets of heather – glad I wasn’t leading and marking the path for others to follow. The only sound was the murmur of shallow, concentrated breathing. Still, I kept running; shuffling upward on the heels of others. Some runners did occasionally skip out into the deep unknown, only to gain a pointless place.
The skyline was a decent opportunity to stride out before passing the summit stone. And sneak passed all those that had needlessly wasted energy heather skipping moments before – a quick peer through the faint mist before preparing for free-fall. Quickly, my head was straining to compute the necessary information to adjust, avoid and descent with dignity. Sweat dripped down my brow and I peeled off gloves and hat. I fell several times after losing balance with a leg deep the white cover and into black filth. Text book forward-rolls and I was soon back in motion – the last of which offered me an opportunity to re-tie my shoe-laces. I continued pushing down; shortly back on a muddy path and over boggy hazards.
Then, I was passing a runner down the icy track before the final pull up towards the finish. I’d gained a few places over the previous mile and felt strong for the final mile. I focused on breathing, good arm movements and feet lifts. I was convinced strong technique would see me passed a few other runners ahead. I did indeed overtake at least three, one of whom – a Clayton-le-Moors bloke – exhaled loudly as I bolted beyond him towards the finish.
I had no idea what time I’d posted, my placing, how far I’d just ran or how slowly I’d crawled up the final mile. All I did know was the date – and this was the first time I’d successfully managed to run a whole fell race, without stopping for a recovery walk. Next time, I might even properly tie my shoe-laces before I start. And not fall!