Thursday, 3 September 2009

Why do it?

Sat in my little office today looking out at the weather I wondered if I could be bothered to turn up at tonight's Hades Hill Fell Race. The wind was quite strong and the rain was on and off, sometimes quite heavy. But I decided I needed to keep up the running so didn't talk myself out of it.

Route choice is everything sometimes and not just in the race. I headed for the race along the M60 and through the centre of Rochdale at 6PM on a weekday evening. I wondered if I would actually make the race at one point, but eventually I arrived and I think the clock on my Sat Nav is a little fast thankfully.

I registered for the race and head for the start line and as I got there the heavens opened, right on cue for the race. The organiser turned up to start the race and everyone came out from under the tree that was acting as shelter and off we headed up the hill.

This race doesn't have any big climbs but instead is made up of three separate climbs. Having never done the race before I decided not to make the same mistake I did at Harrock hill by setting off too fast but tried to stick to a steady pace. You follow the road for a short way before turning onto the hills. Nice grassy tracks to start with the wind behind us on the way out but plenty of mud and puddles.

At the start of a race it makes me laugh that I am reluctant to get my feet wet and constantly try to jump over puddles and avoid sinking in the mud, however by about 1/2 way round I am tired and normally my efforts to keep my feet dry have failed (Quite early on) and I start to just wade through any and all puddles I see. The route for this race is pretty much an out and back and seeing the front runners coming back made me realise that the top wasn't too far away and at this point I was feeling OK.

Not so on the return leg. OK there was more downhill but coming around one of the hills the wind was buffeting me, I think I had been sheltered by the hill up until this point. I had my Peak cap and my waterproof coat on and the rain was stinging me as it hit my face. Blowing across my path, the wind also made it harder to put my foot where I wanted it to go so this also affected my pace and with the amount of mud underneath every step it was only a matter of time before I fell or stumbled, and I did. Just the once and I turned my ankle but not too bad, it just cause me to limp run for a minute or so until the pain eased and I started the next climb.

Try as I might I couldn't find the energy on the run in to catch and pass the runner in front of me. Twice I had managed to catch him but we then hit some flat running and he pulled away from me. Had the finish been at the bottom of the hill we started on, then I think I might have been able to get him but it wasn't to be tonight.

I finished in 53:52 in 77th place from only 86 runners. Not a great result but I don't think I could have done more on the night. However a nice pint of Magners was still deserved in the pub afterwards and some toast when I got home.

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