Monday, 12 March 2012

Wuthering Hike - 10th March 2012

The first Runfurther event of 2012 started again with the Wuthering Hike, a great 30 odd miles of moorland out and back from Haworth: Ower t`moors and back - as we say up `ere in t `North …

Fourth consecutive Hike for me and I use this race as a benchmark to see how I'm progressing, or not, with this ultra lark and each race provides me with much food for thought and if I'm honest each outing courtesy of KCAC has pleased me with my personal improvements; today’s would prove no different.

A bit of a horlicks of a start for me; I was talking to fellow bloggers Nick and Dawn before I realised that the pack had moved off so Garmins were kicked off - `bout 8.02am ish - and we were away up the cobbles, past the cemetery along the road westwards and out onto the moors.

The normal hurricane blowing in our teeth only lasted for the first 13 miles today and so I was glad of the pause at Bronte Bridge as we politely, and with typical British conduct, waited in line to get through the first gate. It was clear, or not, from this point that I may as well have kept the camera away safe as no good would come of it … though I did try a few snaps as fleeting glimpses of landmarks appeared ...

then disappeared again just as quickly ...

At around the turn eastwards, down Stoney Lane, I didn't honestly have a clue of race strategy other than keep eating and drinking and plodding forwards, patiently ... A light came on ! … patience. Now it's a word everyone understands but for me I finally worked out that if I just tried a sustainable pace, ate regularly, kept hydrated, then I may get somewhere: Never quickly, but consistently.

Half a plan was to keep an eye on Nick Ham as if I finish near him then I've done ok, sorry Nick if I've tracked you down - hound like - but it helped enormously with my race and the first sighting of the Great Man was at 13 miles when his stiffness and a small matter of a broken toe brought him back towards me and we happened across the photographer side by side at the Long Causeway checkpoint.

Preferring to pass on the hot dogs I pushed on in front of him down towards Todmorden – trying to ignore the nagging pain in my left knee … patience … Now the climb up the bank towards the Mankinholes checkpoint has, in the past, been a tester but I did feel stronger today and it didn't hold the terror for me as it had previously …

... nor did the climb to the Pike ( especially as it couldn't be seen in the clag)

Even when it finally came into view ...

... then a chance to look back to where we've been …

and a glance forward to where we were heading …

... And then came the interesting bit:

I was a complete shambles coming off the Pike and competitors streamed past; many words of encouragement but I was doomed to shuffle and watch them go … Until Nick turned up and reminded me of the Ibuprofen in my bag “They'll take 15 minutes and you'll be fine”.

I did wonder, once again, with brittle confidence, whether or not it could help. The cobbles out of Horsehold were painful but just bearable … But did it feel a little easier ?

I don't think I've experience an adrenalin rush of a man given a new lease of life before and the climb to Heptonstall saw me “overtake” other competitors. Furthermore, I never got lost on the path to Horsebridge and went straight through – actually getting ahead of Wendy Dodds as she adjusted a shoe!

It didn't end there: Nick appeared on the track towards the top of sunny bank and I caught him on the flat, thanked him for the advice on the painkillers and pressed on to the final checkpoint before the climb up to the Top O` The Stairs – again passing a couple of competitors. Cresting the hill was a joy to behold: To see Leeshaw reservoir below and at last a Panorama to remember. A certain personal best and a very very personal achievement.

For the few people who I passed, yes I am the man in black saying how great Ibuprofen is! Actually made an arse of myself with all that nonsense and so passing Leeshaw with 5.44 on the clock I got my head down, chewed the fat with Andy from Skipton and pressed on up the final incline.

Off Penistone Hill with a PB in sight was a great feeling and into the hall at 6.14 was just a perfect ending to a great day. Never felt so pleased as today, a few lows but a great high to end on and I was able to bank loads of great experiences and lessons. Wonderful also to catch up with friends new and old: The bloggers were out in force – Nick, Dawn and great to finally say hello to Derby Tup – the first and only one to congratulate me on the weight loss – 15 stone 3 in January down to 13 stone 7 today! He said I looked fitter than ever – how kind! Do you think it made a difference? You bet!!

Big thanks to Brett for getting me a smaller T Shirt and to the team at KCAC for everything towards making my day one of the best. .... Full results are here

...  route courtesy of Andy-B


  1. Mike, well done on your strong finish...I'm hoping one of these days it will be me passing Nick Ham at the end! Well, perhaps not. Wishing I would have thought to take a bit of pain meds legs were pretty stiff by the end and my run was more of a stagger!

  2. Brilliant stuff, Mike. Your elation comes across perfectly, reminding me of what it felt like (it's been a while). You are now MY target. I think a change in your blog title is in order.

  3. Thanks Dawn, Ultimately it did end well for me ... like most of us, I did have a few "dodgy" moments with knees and stuff, but was chuffed to bits with the end.

    Nick, thank you for those comments, I did have rather a good day ... once again thanks for your advice and yes, its odd how a couple of years of ultra running have changed my aspirations. I have now just got over the thrill of actually finishing; the next bit comes the improvements and then the logical question ... how far / fast can I go? I have "Brought up the Rear" and will do again no doubt as I have nothing but respect for these events, and all our fellow participants, but i proved completing last years Phoenix how wrong things can turn with poor prep!