Sunday saw the running of the postponed Two Crosses event from January. The event was cancelled because of the heavy snow in January and rescheduled for the 21st March.
I was a little nervous of the distance as my mileage hasn’t been up to much recently but when I entered I had thankfully only entered the 18 mile route rather than the 25 mile route, unlike the first LDWA event I did last year, the Blackwater Marathon, were I just jumped head first in for a 28 mile event.
Up early to make it to Tottington for the 8am start I faffed about getting my rucksack filled with water and packing a few gels, I always get everything ready at the last minute, it’s just my way. I headed out and made it over to the start for about 0730. The LDWA events are great and quite relaxed with Tea, coffee and toast being made for everyone at the start. Milling around I said Hi to a few familiar faces and got ready to start in my natural position at the back of the group. One of the marshall suggested me and the group I was with should head forward with the other runners but at least by starting at the back I would get to pass some people after the start even if they were the walkers.
We headed out of the gate and the group I was with picked off the walkers one by one and by the end of the first street I think we’d just about cleared most of them. I didn’t want to set off too fast as I didn’t want to blow up but I couldn’t help but keep a steady pace that did see me pulling away from the group I started with although Mark, from the group, did start heading off with me but then dropped back to stay with his partner. Despite the forecast of a nice clear day the morning was quite misty and it had still not started to clear and even though you don’t really need your route instructions for the first part of the route I do like reading them so that I know where I am, however I did find them a little confusing in places and a couple of times I saw people being called back who had taken wrong turns.
By the time I arrived at checkpoint one I had managed to catch up a group of three girls and just trotted along at their steady pace past Turton Tower. The next section was about 2km of undulating path and with the mist still in there weren’t really any features I could focus on to try and work out where I was, however after a while came the point where the 18 and 25 mile routes split and I headed right, along the footpath towards the reservoir and the camping barn checkpoint. It didn’t stop me going slightly wrong using the POOR route description but as I descended down the wrong path to the reservoir I saw some runners ahead of me so knew where I needed to get to.
Just after the reservoir was the checkpoint, which despite being only our 2nd checkpoint it would be the 4th checkpoint for those on the 25 mile route and on entering the tent was like an Alladins cave of food. Tea, Coffee, Jelly, cakes, biscuits and a selection of sandwiches were available for people. I could have stayed there all day! Whilst having my Tea and a butty the group I had left arrived and Mark asked if would be ok to run with me as he wanted to run at a slightly quicker pace. I had no problem with that but I wasn’t sure if my pace would drop off later on the route anyway. We were all requested to sing Happy Birthday to one of the marshalls before heading off, so after a rendition of “Happy Birthday to you” which fell silent at the “Happy Birthday dear………” part as nobody knew the marshalls name, Mark and I headed off for the next checkpoint.
The next checkpoint wasn’t too far away and the conversation helped to pass the time. Only stopping briefly we headed straight on towards Bull Hill. Gradually climbing through farmers fields we managed to follow the route description but I constantly felt unsure about being on the right route. We reached boggy ground as we got closer to Bull Hill but at this point the mist was still in and I hadn’t any idea where Bull Hill actually was. Catching up to a lady in front of us who had done the route before we followed her before she told us she wasn’t exactly sure if she was going the right way. But then, all of a sudden, after wading through the wet, boggy ground the mist lifted and Bull Hill was right there in front of us. Looking back too was clear and we could see runners behind us. The world looks far different when you can see other landmarks.
Picking up the pace a little we followed the path that should lead us to the next checkpoint which has to be the other best checkpoint on the route as they were dishing up Tots of whiskey. It would have been rude not to take one and the marshall have to carry the bottles back down with liquid in them! Heading off now the route descriptions again became problematic partly because they were telling me to head of on bearings and I hadn’t brought a compass with me but thankfully we were heading for the Pilgrims Cross and having done the Pilgrims Cross race last year I recognised the area. Passing Pilgrims cross we followed a lone runner towards Peel Hill and kept a steady pace going however I could feel my legs starting to get tired now so I pulled out a Gel and had some of the cereal bar I had brought along with me.
We caught up with the lone runner just as we approached Peel Hill but then on the descent down from Peel Hill He kept catching us up as I stopped to try and make sense of the route description. In the end we just stuck with this guy as he had done the route a number of times and wasn’t reading any instructions. Just before we reached the last checkpoint I managed to slip on a stile which by now was already wet and coupled with the excellent grip of the wet shoes I was wearing, I just slipped right off the stile as I was half way over it. As a result the top of my leg scrapped across the top of the fence. It wasn’t cut but just stung a little however I knew that was gonna make a nice bruise in the morning.
After the final Checkpoint only 2 miles on was the finish but it still seemed to be quite far away and the descriptions still were hard to follow. Turning off the road and onto the final path (the disused railway line), My legs had started to stiffen and my pace slowed more but 3 hours and 31 minutes after leaving I arrived back at the youth centre ready for a nice bowl of soup, some rice pudding and more importantly a couple of cups of tea.
I think I’ll plan a few more of these in to try and get some miles under the belt but with only just over 2 months before Joanne is due she won’t let me venture too far away so trips to the Lakes will be out until late June or early July.