Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Woldsman - 13th April 2013

The Woldsman - 50 miles of the rollercoaster which is the Chalky south face of the Yorkshire Wolds. An Out and back lane, track, field border and trail jaunt from Driffield, taking in Sledmere, Wharram Percy, Thixendale, Givendale, Huggate, Wetwang and all manner of ups and downs along the way back to the Showground..

I know, through bitter, but limited, experience that at some point the heavy blanket of a low point and the frustrations and pain of endurance racing will envelope me … todays slough of despond arrived to accompany me just after leaving the Wharram Percy checkpoint at mile 21.

I had just dashed down an impossibly steep chalky path to the first of the “hide and seek” self clips which was then followed by a big steep road climb which I foolishly tried jogging up – the reverse of a steep descent on last years Chalkland Way – and the feet and quads were now bashed up and refused to play ball, I had everything to walk at all, never mind doing it briskly.

The deserted church, the cottages, the mill pond and the deserted medieval village were all beautifully sunlit by now as the early morning mist had been burnt up and the rolling wolds were looking in their Sunday spring best but I could take no pleasure from it at all: I just had to contend with Malcolm Coles disappearing up and away into the distance along the tree lined ridge of the Wolds Way on towards the halfway point at Thixendale … tried a gel, nope, no good … had a look around … no better although the views were stunning.

Run for 50 paces, walk for 10, run another 50 paces; try, try to regain composure … then the left turn, another elusive self clip in the trees and … a view to bring you to a stand … what a view and the far distance trail to aim for after another swooping downhill grass slope …

Trotting across the top of Thixendale, looking down into the Dale and the village, at the halfway point, with 4.35 on the clock and the prospect of a small pasta dish c/w cheese sauce then life aint that bad and I had won a reprieve; a second life.

And with the sun out, the long southbound Dale bottom jog to Givendale proved a great opportunity to eat up some miles – happily alone, save for a few inquisitve spring lambs (or the ones that could be bothered to turn away from the sun).

These straw dry, steep sided; flat- bottomed grassy Dales really are a joy to be in and with the weather remaining fair, but not too hot, then it was a perfect setting for this East Yorkshire Long Distance Walkers Challenge Event. Eventually getting to the checkpoint at Givendale - 32 miles in - where a welcome was awaiting.

Then the climbs started …

They always do …

Not mountainous Lakeland affairs but enough to grind the pace out and so back to the shuffling towards the Huggate Wold check and then the final push on towards Wetwang at mile 42 and then the flat 8 mile finishing stretch.

Earlier in the day, the access through private land offered some unbelievable views across the sweeping chalk fields, too early in the year to be bothered by crops, the route showed Le Terroir in all its finest.

From the smiling faces at Danes` Graves checkpoint …

To the Sledmere Castle folly …

And the sweep down towards Sledmere village itself at 13.5 miles …

And the brief touch of civilisation of Sledmere village itself …

Passing Eleanor cross …

Before outbound, once again, passing deserted churches and field boundaries and sheep on steep banks!

That was early in the day but once tea time arrived and the checkpoint at the methodist hall presented us with a table groaning with provisions … well it was hard to leave unreplenished.

I did once, a few months ago, write about the final 5k of a 50 mile event bringing out the best in me on that particular day … with a 30 minute window to get in under 10 hours, and I did too with 5 minutes to spare, what would happen today? The running time was currently 10.30 and I had aimed for a sub 11 hour finish. So?

A failure. Try as I might, I just couldn’t grind it out although I did try and run the green lanes and tracks – even running on the A166 to try and minimise the time spent on the outskirts of Driffield – but it was a pathetic spent shuffle and with bleeding toes it proved a time too far out of reach. I turned back into the showground off the busy road in a grey drizzle and before me was a shuffling Malcolm Coles again.

He, too, had blown up completely and so a huge credit to him for slugging it out to the end, we muttered something and crept into the hut at the finish – 11.01 on the clock.

Sitting silently with a mug of tea steaming on the table I reflected on the day. Typical of the LDWA to provide terrific fayre at every checkpoint along the way along with huge encouragement for us all as we ploughed on, so many thank yous to all at East Yorkshire LDWA, certainly the best day of the year so far, I couldn’t really have asked for more.


  1. Lovely photos Mike. I found it hard too - the wind on the dale after Thixendale was quite tough. Nicely pleasant temperature I thought.

    1. Hi Madeleine,

      Many thanks, yes it started as a perfect day out but cooled towards tea time which was just as well for me :) ... glad you enjoyed the day, what about the provisions at the checkpoints! marvelous. See you soon Best Wishes Mike

  2. nice one mike. fab ics, well done.

    are you allowed to post up results on here. shame that the LDWA dont publish them??

  3. Hiya A, Many thanks for that ... I've emailed the East Yorks LDWA and as soon as I get the results I'll pin `em up `ere. Cheers Mike

  4. Hi Mike

    Good write-up and photos brought back a wonderful but quite hard day. I was with you on the track heading for Grivendale looking for the wooden bridge across the beck. The running became harder after that but I just managed to dip under 11 hrs.

    1. Hi Paul, Well done you ... those climbs after Millington did me in and I took a good while to recover but managed to shuffle back. Hope to catch up soon. Thanks for the steer around Deepdale by the way :) Cheers Mike