Thursday, 3 March 2011

A double double - 2 good weekends of running.

Half-term brought an opportunity for a trip home so as usual I set about looking for a few events to do while up there. I stupidly entered the Anglezarke Amble before realising that half term was a week later this year, but the Beacon Bash was on the following Sunday then Peeler's Hike the Sunday after that. I have grown fond of these ldwa challenge events having recently done a few down south where I now live; The Gatliff 50K being one highlight where I had a great run on a very cold November day.

First of all I ran the Standish Hall Trail Race on Saturday afternoon and it was a case of leave the house at 2pm; register; get changed; 10 minute warm-up; run the race; drink some water; drive home! I got home before 3:45pm. I like this race - this year the organiser said it was the muddiest he had seen it and it was interesting that he asked anyone considering running with headphones to take them off. I struggled to get any speed up with not having raced in a long time and was only getting warmed up on the last lap.

The following day it was nice not to have to leave too early since Ashurst Beacon is reasonably local, there was a decent turn out of runners for the 9am start and it was good to see a few familiar faces. I'm not a big fan of mass starts at ldwa events it makes them feel too much like a race; I prefer to just set off when I am ready but as it was I went with the flow and it wasn't long before I was running along with canal chatting with Tony who I hadn't seen since last year. Another feature of these events I like is that you find unfamiliar routes to familiar places; The Beacon Bash takes in various sections of the Ashurst Beacon race, Parbold Hill race and Harrock Hill races. The route had some extremely muddy sections which made it particularly tiring; my calves were a little sore from the previous day's race and by the time we got towards Up Holland my legs were hurting. I dropped back from the group of runners from Wigan Phoenix I had been chatting to and began walking the inclines; tarmac stretches had started hurting too. Anyway it wasn't long before we had passed the Beacon - it made a change to be able to run what is the finish of the Beacon Race in reverse as a descent, and were on our way back to the finish. Again I was seeing parts of that area I had never run before, some of them very muddy and I passed one bloke who was in a real grump over the route description which I didn't think was too bad (I didn't tell him this). I finally got round in 3hrs46 feeling really stiff and sore at the finish then the best bit: the hot food. Pie, mushy peas, red cabbage and a huge spread of cakes, fruit pies with cream and as much tea/coffee as you can drink! Ian was saying every year they say: "Never again" after all the mud but then always seem to come back for more. Mark came in a shade under 5hrs looking a bit disappointed but a pie and a pint soon cheered him up.

My calves didn't come back to life until Wednesday morning by which time I had caught a sore throat so I didn't get any running in at all during the week. Saturday saw Bleasdale fell race with a new start of 2pm that I had decided to run in a pair of Walshes I bought a couple of years ago and hardly run in due to the insoles working loose. I like Walshes but they don't seem to like me; I tend to go over on my ankles more in them than I do Innov8 but my last pair of mudclaw are falling to bits. The weather was reasonably kind though the wind was quite strong; thankfully it was behind us most of the climb which helped.

As is usual for me I started off far too fast and spent most of the climb getting passed, I caught Ian up running across the top and he looked to be suffering from knee trouble; I felt bad for him after all the training he's been doing lately. I quite like the descent of Parlick on this route but I wasn't confident in those walshes - I ended up sliding down on my backside at one point just before this picture was taken:

The run back is a bit of a pain too, this year it was into the wind but the fields didn't seem as muddy as last time I did the race 2 years ago. I was reasonably happy with my time given the conditions and my current state (or lack!) of training. As usual there was a good atmosphere after the finish and we got changed and went indoors for another pie and peas.

The following morning it was pouring down when Mark picked me up around 8ish for the short trip to Bury for the Peeler's Hike. We wanted to set off earlier so that we could get back early in the afternoon but in the end were only ready about 20 mins before the start. The organiser wasn't keen on us going early so I left it but Mark managed to persuade him that he would be slow enough and set off. This being organised by the scouts there were more groups of walkers doing the short route than runners at the start, I counted about 10 of us; this suited me fine it meant less of a mass start.

It was windy and at times cold, and wet and it wasn't long before we were spread out into groups of 2 and 3 running over very muddy fields heading in the general direction of Peel Tower. I ran most of the way with Tony and Jason and a couple of ladies; one of who I remembered from the Beacon Bash the week before due to having her dog with her. It was well over an hour before we caught Mark who remained in sight until approaching Pilgrim's Cross. The headwind was a pain until we turned at Bull Hill to head down past the Ellen Strange stone and Robin Hood's well, all places I was seeing for the first time. From the White Horse pub it was mainly running down the Irwell Valley following the river Irwell and it had warmed up by this point; I had to stop down Nuttall Hall Road so I could take my helly off I was overheating. Tony managed to go wrong with the 2 ladies when we were unsure of the route (me and Jason stopped to ask a local) and we never saw them again until the finish, there were a couple of places where the route description was a bit vague which must have added 10 minutes to my time but I was glad to get back in a shade over 5 hours.

I'm not sure about the distance either since at the last checkpoint (there were 8!) the lady said there were around 2 miles left though Jason's watch reckoned we had done 21.8 miles - the event is listed as a 22 mile hike. As usual there was some lovely hot food and a nice relaxed atmosphere at the finish where the consensus seemed to be just over 23 miles with around 3500 ft of up and down.


  1. Anglezarke Amble and Beacon Bash eh? Seems we do the same events! Great to read your Blog... need the motivation and inspiration in this cold weather!

  2. Thanks Deb! I love these ldwa events, very good value for money.