Monday, 11 March 2013

Wuthering Hike - 9th March 2013

Wuthering Hike (Haworth Hobble) – A Circuitous 32 miler of Pennine Tracks, Trails and Roads, out and back with 4400ft of ascent/ descent .. And, my fifth straight Wuthering Hike to boot.

At a certain point in every ultra race, I have a decision to make: What point in the event will I choose to dictate the outcome of the day? Is it to lift the rate of attack of this early, steeply inclining run away from Bronte bridge up to, and beyond, Top Withins which will enable me to gain the advantage? - the thought of which will compel me onwards for the remainder of the day to that personal best.

Alternatively, could I retain the iron discipline to manage and maintain a steady reserved approach to crest the sunny uplands of a negative split! This theory is well trodden but, for me, today’s course doesn’t lend itself to that at all. The first 20 odd miles to the foot of Stoodley Pike are pretty straightforward, both navigationally and energetically ..... but looking up at the monument will provide me with the timely reminder that the most severe up and downers: Down into Hebden Bridge then up to, through and down from Heptonstall are now to be undertaken: These last dozen or so miles of the Round, away from the Pike, will always represent my greatest challenge.

.... and; can't you tell these words were written from the comfort of a centrally heated office a day or so after the weekend. ... when I never thought I'd be so pleased to be this close, and with the biggy nearly out of the way...

The throng was late in gathering at the start, just before 8.00am on the cobbles outside the Fleece in Haworth, so when we finally kicked off at 8.05am, I found myself at the back of the field.

No bad thing for me that, and it was only towards the rise to the house at Top Withens, 38 minutes after the off, that I realised my too quick start placed me amongst a pack way above my pay grade ... Splatcher along with Linda from Calder Valley soon left me behind as did Steve Foster, crossing the Widdop Dam Wall and Andy Ellison just prior to the house at Top Withens. These had been my early companions before the climb away from Widdop  towards the Long Causeway checkpoint.  


I did try to stay composed becoming left behind, but the weather, the too early signs of fatigue and the faltering and failing attempts to fuel and hydrate brought me quite low. We all have these sections, and better times do come along, but I had no supporters to tow me forward and was left chuntering slowly all the way up to the car park `neath the turbines.

It had been snowing for quite a few hours at this point and the cold was starting to cause me issues .... the raynaud's syndrome affecting my fingers was particularly harsh at this point and I was losing more time on the long wind back towards Hebden Bridge. I did enjoy the novelty of eating a hot dog whilst running down Stoney Lane but with every layer on including hat and waterproof hood up, I saw no-one further and enjoyed a solitary lope all the way to Mankinholes.

Earlier in the day, I had decided to take a couple of Ibuprofen tablets as a precaution to the knee struggles I'd enjoyed last year and this time I had an armchair ride with the knees ... It has dawned on me by now that the training plans I have, the time I'm afforded along with the terrain I have access to is perfect for long flat or slightly undulating trail runs. The steep climbs of Calderdale and more generally these northern hills catch me out every year so I no longer beat myself up with this failing; just aim to enjoy these rounds as much as possible. I aint a Fell Runner, far from it but I love these days out so for me, any opportunity to take a picture remains a chance to stand still for a second or two, catch my breath and regroup..

But Stoodley couldn't be ignored and my lack of climbing ability was highlighted by being bypassed by lots of runners before an old friend - Mick Bull - appeared at my shoulder: A sprightly 63 and in great shape, Mick was looking to better his 6.46 of last year and with a prevailing wind and a good work rate from here I told him we'd do it no problem.

With the climbs in and out of the Calder Valley well behind us there remained the cold trudge up to the Top O` The Stairs through the coldest wind and snows of the day ... I did feel the well forecasted chill here and with ice cold water and cold gels for fuel I did feel at my worst and so a big thanks to Mick for dragging me onwards.

Over the top and down through the last of the clag, never was the sight of Leeshaw Reservoir more welcome as it appeared out of the clouds ...  

... with that, and the trip around Peniston Hill then down through the churchyard, over the cobbles, though the narrow ginnel and the road; we were back at the finish, happily dishing a few lame runners on the final stretch.

Delighted to get in with 6.38 on the board which gave Mick his improvement on last years time! A big thank you to him for dragging me those last few miles to the finish: I'd about gone by then so a great pleasure to finish with a friend and a welcome cup o` tea in the school.

I always try and make a point of thanking the marshalls and support crews. Everyone, along with Brett and the KCAC mob here certainly earned it today - no way could we have gone round without you. (Still didn't dare try the Laphroaig prior to the Pike). Looking back it wasn't as cold as it could have been and with the benefit of another 36 hours after the finish and the further cushioning of hindsight then its churlish to be anything other than pleased ... I feel we worked for the shirt today.

Thoughts driving home? Another great day out: Snowed on a lot, very cold and very very wet. No best time either today which I secretly hoped for but not a PW and the chance to say hello to lot's of friends after a winter away from the circuit - not too shabby that. And Mick was second in his age group! that`ll do for the day.


  1. Sorry I missed you on Saturday. Have a look at a pair of Buffalo mitts if your hands are really bad

    1. Thanks DT and congrats to Stef and your good self on a great round as a pair :)