Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Wuthering Hike 2010

Wuthering Hike – 32 miles Haworth circular

Where, behind Keighley, the road,
Up to the heart of the moors
Between heath-clad showery hills
Runs, and colliers’ carts
Poach the deep ways coming down,
And a rough, grimed race have their homes –
There on its slope is built
The moorland town,. But the church
Stands on the crest of the hill,
Lonely and bleak; - at its side
The parsonage-house and the graves.

Matthew Arnold

Last year, I was full of trepidation at my first ultra marathon ever but this year I’m looking forward to the start of the season, the cameraderie and the sense of acheivement that comes with fagging around the hills all day. Now I know whats coming, the different highs and lows of a hill run “If you feel bad eat something” and ”No matter how bad you feel, you’ll soon get better” or even “Don’t panic if you get lost” – well it all happened on a day when I beat last years time by 40 minutes, finishing in 6.47.

At the off, it appeared as if there wasn’t going to be a cloud in the sky but half way to Top Withens the visibility was down to about 50 yards with a cool hill fog blowing into our faces, this stayed with us until we approached the Cant Clough area. One note of incredulity was my inability to keep the shorts on!, My descent over the top and down to the reservoir involved my lycra wear falling down – the moon rose early that morning, first time it would have been seen in such thick fog! – Glad the weather and a rhodedendron bush hid my modesty and hasty redress. All sorted by Widdop so I was presentable for the rest of the race!.

Today I felt determined to plod on up any gradient possible, only walking the steepest sections and had picked up time by Stoney Lane but I kicked a boulder and went head over ears; much bloodied of knee and ego I made it to the Mankinholes checkpoint in around 3 hours 40mins – odd that the last 12 miles would take another 3 hours but thats Stoodley Pike for me and that grinding hill up to Heptonstall.

Getting lost again in Heptonstall and on my way down to Horse Bridge annoyed me more than I can say but I made it to the top O` the stairs at around 6 hours. This time I was determined on a decent descent and, once through the last late snow drifts, passed Leeshaw Reservoir and on up to Penistone Hill. Took the path around the Hill and down towards with church with time on my schedule to spare.

Just as well really as, for some daft reason, I ended up down the car park behind Haworth and having to ascend to the school and the finish from the bottom of the cobbled street! Not what I’d anticipated but a success for my sub 7 hours target. I still wait too long before grabbing a bite, still look like a ghost when I get to the top of Stoodley Pike and look like a camel coming down into Hebden Bridge but you can’t have everything  so I’ll take my time improvement anyday. This is my favourite race of the year; perhaps because it was my first ultra ever but I suspect it’s more than that. The queue past Bronte Bridge, the historic dwelling, the sight of the Pike emerging round the corner of Stoney Lane, the relief at Top O’ the Stairs and the final appearance into t’village means i’ve made it. Once again a huge thanks to Brett and all at KCAC for helping me get from start to finish, well fed and watered and looking forward to next year.

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