Running highpoint

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!

One thought on “Running highpoint

  1. It thought was an exceptionally fun race, glad you enjoyed it also. Obv all Woodentops races are good fun but the snow and freshness just added something extra.

    I once had my laces come undone 3 times in a race… then someone showed me what they called the ‘fellrunner’s knot’. Someone actually just posted it on the FRA FB thread today – worth a look, it’s the Surgeon’s Knot. I swear by it now!

    Great running as always mate, genuinely enjoyable to see you speeding up and hitting the fells stronger each time. Catch you soon!

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