Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Beacon Bash – 5th Feb 2012

Well another weekend and another run out. This time it was the Beacon Bash from Newburgh near Parbold. I was worried I wouldn’t get an entry to this one as I’d heard it was full, but with a race number of 203 I suspect the entry limit of 150 wasn’t being strictly applied (thankfully).

I did this run last year and it’s a nice little route. But this years conditions were the complete opposite. On the Saturday it had ‘tried’ to snow but had only managed to snow those tiny icy balls (much smaller than hail). Then it had rained and then it frozen overnight.

Low Mist on Douglas Valley

The early Sunday morning started with some low level mist and some hesitant driving where I chose the motorway rather than the back roads as the best route to get there without incident. Arriving 30 mins before the start (unusually early) I sat and had a drink before I started and chat with others preparing to set off. Of course by the time everyone started I was still faffing about and getting myself ready.

Starting from the back of the pack it was a nice gentle pace. The route quickly leaves the main road and joins the canal. The canal was … treacherous. People were slipping and sliding all over the place and I feared that one of a group of girls, after falling on the ice twice, might end up in the canal. Thankfully all was well and I headed on until the route left the canal and up towards the Wigin Tree Pub on top of Parbold Hill. The path up here wasn’t much better and by now the slow running with the group of girls had meant I was pretty much running alone.

Crossing the road and heading over the fields I approached Checkpoint 1 (High Moor) and both ahead of me and behind me I could hear random screams from groups of females slipping on ice, you know the sort, the shreaks that you let out when you unexpectedly lose traction, assume your gonna be on your arse in about 0.5 secs, tense up every muscle but then luckily your foot manages to grip to something, your arms swing around in all directions for balance and then relief sets in.

On leaving Checkpoint 1 the route follows (mostly) the Harrock Hill race route backwards over the fields to the top of the quarry. The track road up to the top of the quarry looked icy so I decided that I would take the long way round up through the field and it seemed that was a better choice as on arriving at Checkpoint 2 I’d caught up to the larger group of Pink PanthersHarrock Hill (Who I assume had been making all the noise I’d previously heard).

By this point we had already caught and passed a number of walkers, one of whom commented that the runners had caught them up much sooner this year because of the conditions. A brief food stop and off towards Jacksons Lane. From Jacksons Lane the route again follows part of the Harrock Hill race route backwards before passing over Harrock Hill besides the ruin of the windmill. So far I had managed without the route description and this mist was giving me just enough visibility to see walkers/runners in front.

FoodHeading back over the fields towards High Moor Farm then onwards over more fields towards the road crossing and into Fairy Glen Wood. The path through the wood was lethal in places and I decided I need to invest in some Kahtoolas just for this type of occasion. Eventually though Checkpoint 3 arrived and food. I topped up with a cup of tea, a few cups of juice, some butties and a cake and headed out the door. Normally I make the mistake of stopping for a break but then I start to stiffen up and after this I just can’t get going again. So with my tea in hand I headed onwards. I love a cup of tea during a race!

On leaving Checkpoint 3 I was advised that the marshall may be missing at Checkpoint 4. Now the route twists a little through various narrow strips of woodland heading for Roby Mill. Just before I reached the main road through Roby Mill I passed a couple of young lads who asked me for directions to Beacon Country Park. Unfortunately, with only the text based instructions I only knew for certain that Roby Mill was ahead of me. On looking at the map now I can see that they were in fact walking away from Beacon Park. Sorry!!

Danger Children PlayingRunning down one of the lanes away from Roby Mill I noticed an amusing sign,
“Danger, Children Playing”.
I couldn’t help but wonder how dangerous the children could be? Were they playing with knives or something??

Anyway, Checkpoint 4 came and went with no marshall so I pushed on for Beacon Park. Further along though I came upon Checkpoint 4. It seems one of the marshalls had been struggling with ice and blocked routes on leaving her house and she wanted to tell me about it. I do appreciate the efforts of the marshalls and organisers and always say please and thank you as much as possible but I didn’t really want a 5 minute pit stop to listen to the details of the struggle to find a clear road, not whilst the group of 3 people I had just caught up managed to escape of up the next track.

The day was starting to warm a little and the frozen ground in places had started to clear and melt away. Running through Beacon park saw a little bit of grip from the shoes and they caught in the top of the now un-frozen mud. Ashurst BeaconCheckpoint 5 arrived and some nice hot soup. Now if you are a marshall and like to chat it’s best to have Tea/Coffee or soup to offer out. With the offer of Chicken Soup and a couple of slices of bread I’ll stand around and chat with you all day.

Pushing on it the final section with only about 3.5 miles of the 21 miles left to go. Up and over Ashurst Beacon and a wander through the fields of Dalton Lees, Rookery Farm and Woodcock Hall before finally arriving back at the sports club in Newburgh in a time of 4hrs 40mins. Considering the conditions I was very happy with this time.

With just enough time for a quick shower, a couple of cups of tea, a pint of coke, some Hot Pot with Beetroot and two slices of jam sponge cake and a chat with Albert and Tony it was time to head off home and take the kids out to McDonalds.

Thanks to all the organisers and marshall without whom these events wouldn’t happen.


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