Tuesday, 22 March 2011

LDWA - Two Crosses (2011)

Trust the ITV To put James Bond (Casino Royal) on late on a Saturday night!!!

So with only 5 hours sleep I woke at 5.30 to get myself ready for the 8AM start from Tottington High school. The forcast was for possible showers over Manchester so I wasn't really sure if it should be a shorts or leggins day so as usual I just threw a whole heap of clothes in a bucket and decided when I got there.

This event always seems to be a busy one, based on how busy the hall was last year and this. With my usual level of preparation I forgot my route description and entry number but fortunately there were some spare descriptions at registration. Registration was a busy place and the queue for the dunny was even busier. By the time I had gone back to the car to get my footwear on I managed to miss the start. Although I wasn't the last to leave, as I was leaving Michelle (Alberts wife) and Janet were running back to the car for something.

Having decided on light weight leggins I was glad of my decision. Only minutes after the 8AM start a very fine, light misty rain seemed to start which pretty much continued on/off for most of the morning. Not long after the start I passed

Ray (Lostock) was also late leaving so I tried running with him for a while but my pace is a lot slower so it wasn't
long before I got caught at a busy stile and the gap widened as we passed through Affetside and the first of the 2 crosses on the route. My pace wasn't generally fast (by my standards) across the whole route. Heavy legs at the start gradually loosened after the first checkpoint (Turton Tower). I seem to recall the stretch between Turton Tower and checkpoint 2 feeling endless but this time it seemed to pass quite quick. I recall last year that the whole route seemed to drag on and on however this year it didn't. I think because you know the route it makes it feel shorter.

After not meeting @SarahHope during the Beacon Bash a few weeks back, she managed to pick me out as I ran passed her before the Jumbles reservoir (I wouldn't have known it was her but I am rubbish with faces). It wasn't long though before her and her running partner(also Sarah) caught me up and she introduced herself. Although I hadn't decided on the 25 mile or the 18 mile route on paper, in my head I think I was only ever doing the 18 mile. So on reaching checkpoint 2 I headed right for the reservoir and my next checkpoint, Aladdin's Cave!

LDWA events are great. On my last event, The Peelers Hike, I managed to burn off a whole 4500 calories but with all the chocolate cake being handed out en-route I think I managed to eat 3000 calories during the run, so they don't do much for your waistline (well not my waistline!). Anyway, I didn't want today to be the same so it was a couple of cups of juice, a cup of tea and a slice of cake only (I left the biscuits, sandwiches and Jelly alone).

From here you head past the Strawberry Duck and down through the woods before coming out at..... well some place in the middle of no where, I have no idea where it is, other than the next checkpoint is in sombodys garage and he has my favourite car (A Jaguar XF). From here you head over the fields up towards Bull Hill, apparently part of this route passes a maggot farm and the stench is apparently awful, but I didn't smell anything. I think Alberts nose must be even more sensitive than mine (although today I do seem to have started with a runny nose).

After the maggot farm you head out onto the open moor and just like last year the moor was thick in mist but a couple of experience runners I was following seemed to know the route well, advising the 2 Sarahs to "Make sure you don't go left". As we turned and bore right from the path one of the Sarahs jumped over a narrow bog and ended up about knee deep in it and unable to climb out. One of the to men I was following came to her rescue and lifted her out. Once we crossed the flat moor we came upon a trod which we all followed. After a minute or so following this trod we all looked left to see the two experienced men had chosen the right path and we were heading too far up Bull Hill. I should have known this as I had been telling mayself we didn't need to go up the hill. Anyway, we cut across and rejoined the right path and arrived soon after at "The Naughty Corner".

After a tot of whiskey, I picked up a couple of sweets to keep me going and headed of along the path towards Pilgrims cross. It's like dejavu, I was only passing that cross in the other direction about two weeks ago (Peelers Hike). With the moors still fog bound I hoped I was on the right path towards Peel tower. A moment of indecision came as I crossed the stream as the trod normally used in the "Pilgrims Cross" race seemed to have been churned up by a vehicle and I wasn't really sure which path to take. Again I made my choice and was happy when I came upon the double gates just before Peel Tower. Not that I could see Peel Tower, in fact I couldn't even see the top of Peel Tower when I was stood right underneath it.

From Peel Tower you follow the main path down before taking a stile on the right and a rocky descent down to the road. Then cross the road and through the farmers fields as you descend into the woods. Not long before the last checkpoint and but by now although my body was coping well with the run my legs had started to stiffen up and I was gradually getting slower.
Last year I managed to trip over the stile around this point and bruised the inside of my leg but not this year. I was EXTRA careful. Out onto the road and up to the final checkpoint near the entrance to Holcombe Moor Training Camp (Military). Just the same as last year, the marshal told us (The 2 Sarahs were with me at this point) that we had come the wrong route were we should have come across the fields. He made a cheeky comment about not telling anyone we had gone the wrong route when in actual fact we HAD followed the route and he mustn't have read the description for a few year. I must admit though that other than the section near the maggot farm and the route down from Peel Tower and into the woods I didn't use the route description at all. Each part of the route came back to me as I ran it.

We left the final checkpoint together and heading over the fields and through the woods to the golf course. After crossing the golf course though my tired legs were slowing me down and the 2 Sarahs just started to run ahead. Soon after it was the final stretch along the cycle track that led back to the High school and finish. Not sure how long it is, but at the end of your run it does feel like it goes on for some way.

Miraculously my finishing time was EXACTLY the same as last years 3hr 31mins. So I mustn't be improving at all!!!


  1. Mark, this used to be a yearly certainty for me until they moved it to March. I always looked forward to the naughty corner. I was sorry to miss out.
    I might see you / Chris at Grasmere Fells & Tarns. I'll be there.


  2. Coincidentally I'm just listening to Casino Royale by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass right this moment!