Ron Hill’s 77th Birthday Race at Brownhouse Wham

And the title surely gives it away – another Andy O race.  But a different route – over 50% tarmac, the rest marked on his sketch map as ‘rough stuff’.  Enough said.

Ron Hill at Enschede 1975 c/o Wikipedia
Ron Hill at Enschede 1975
c/o Wikipedia

Ron Hill MBE  was the second man to break 2:10 in the marathon; he ran two Olympic marathons, in Tokyo in 1964 and Munich in 1972.  His personal best for the marathon is 2:09:28. In 1970 he won the 74th Boston marathon in a course record 2:10:30.  He also won gold medals for the marathon at the European Championships in 1969 and the Commonwealth Games in 1970.  Ron has now run every single day for over 50 years.  Amazing.  And he turns out for these races (and other local races too): he was 83rd today.

If you want to support him – don’t buy ‘Ron Hill’ goods.  He’s not owned that trademark for a long time.  Try ‘Hilly’ instead.

Whereas it had been overcast and a bit cold in the morning, by 2 p.m. the sun was peeping out, and, once again, I found it hot and would have appreciated some wind.  Managed to run it all apart from a short section of steep uphill tarmac, and enjoyed getting past a few runners on some of the ‘rough stuff’.  Rough crumbly uphill stony track; then slippy rough wet downhill stony track.  Took 2 or 3 on each bit.  Road shoes were not ideal just at that point, especially the wet downhill section, but, overall, were the best choice.  I presume the runners I passed were road runners.

Andy’s not always entirely accurate in his measurement, and I suspect this wasn’t 5 km either, but a little less; happy at 51st of 93.  I couldn’t stay for the prize giving (not that I was getting one) as I was off to a Brass Band concert.  My daughter plays the euphonium and a jolly good concert it was too.

I can have a bit of a rest now; only need to do 2 between now and the Shepherds’ Skyline in early November.

Till Hill Twilight Race

Phew!  Just managed to get there.  Never ever arrived later than this for a race.  Race at 18.30 – I drew up outside the pub at 18.17.  And got to the start in time.  Having registered.  And been to the toilet.  And changed (in the street).  And run down the road.  Usually like to be there in plenty of time, but it was not possible tonight.  Work, trains, traffic.  Culminating in driving into Hurst Green; then out of Hurst Green; then back into Hurst Green, a left turn, and spying a few runners stripped & ready to go.  There’s the pub!  Get in and register.

18 runners – it’s the first time this race has been staged.  Hopefully it will continue next year and draw more support; I thought it was a nice race.

But first, a pic from Tuesday of the Tod Harriers contingent at the Mandy Goth race.  She’s on the front row.

c/o Keith Parkinson
c/o Keith Parkinson

So, as expected, the majority ran away from me.  For a while I was a bit behind 2 runners, with a Bowland runner just behind – then he came past.  After a bit there was someone behind me; after about a kilometre, I recognised he was the sweeper.  So that was that.

This was billed as ‘4.5 mile up hill only race, starting in Hurst Green and climbing right up to the trig point on Longridge fell where the race finishes just in time to catch the sun setting on Bleasdale fell (weather permitting)’.   So a little over 7 km.  It wasn’t actually as far as that.  A cool evening, up through trees and some rough scrub, on tracks and paths, some of which were very boggy, and finally a flat boggy run along the ridge.  I’d never been on Longridge Fell before.

Anyway, after a bit of a chat, off back down to the pub, with the Bowland runner and the marshall from the check point, picking up the route markers as we went.

And suddenly there he was – another Bowland runner coming up the track, looking for the finish.  I didn’t see him in the pub afterwards, so I couldn’t buy him a pint.  But thanks to this wonderful chap, I’ve still never been last in a race.  Long may it continue.

66 done.  I can almost sense the excitement on the finish line.

Mandy Goth Triumph over Cancer 5 k Trail

A mouthful.  Same Andy O route – and again I ran it all.

Mandy (in Tod Harriers top) at Three Shires Fell Race last week. c/o Myra Wells
Mandy (in Tod Harriers top) at Three Shires Fell Race last week.
c/o Myra Wells

Mandy is a stalwart of Tod Harriers and 35 of the 65 participants tonight were Tod Harriers.  I think that’s the biggest turnout at any club championship race this year (only 4 at Guisborough, even though it was also an English championship race, and, it turns out, only 4 at the Garstang Half.  And one race in the club  championship attracted no entrants whatsoever this year).

Pleasant evening; got to the reservoir a little earlier this week compared to the leading group of three runners – I’d already proceeded perhaps 30 m along the bank before they came past.  But despite this there were about 4 runners ahead of me whom I would each have hoped to beat.  That includes not beating Mandy.  I’m still blaming the half marathon, though that excuse is becoming a bit threadbare.

Came straight home hoping to watch the football and we did indeed win 2:1, but I couldn’t find it to watch, which was a pity.  So I can’t report the after run ceremony nor any goodies I might have got.  Got a chocolate bar at registration anyway.

That’s 65.

Beefy’s Nab

I’d not run all week; I had intended to do a midweek trail race (another Andy O’Sullivan event) but, possibly consequent on last Sunday’s half marathon, I had significant pain at my left heel and decided not to go.  Then the pain essentially ceased on Friday, was not present on Saturday, and caused no hindrance today.  Perhaps some internal bruising.

I hadn’t treated it with much respect; the usual looking after of animals, so, leading my wife’s horses out & bringing them back in; walked back home from Todmorden on a couple of occasions (3 miles/5 km) and we had a search with the Search & Rescue team on Saturday, through overgrown and rutted woodland.  Perhaps that was the sensible thing to do.

Beefy’s Nab is from Oxenhope; there’s a station, the terminus of the Keighley & Worth Valley railway.  More well known on this line is Haworth, where the Brontes lived.  A couple of miles from Oxenhope.

Anyway, this was another low key event.  32 runners and I managed to get back in 30th place (always a worry when there are low numbers); 3 miles and 650 ft of climbing (around 5 km and 185 m).  A nice route and a pleasant day.

Start and finish at Leeming reservoir.

c/o Andy Beattie
c/o Andy Beattie

An initial steady climb, first on some tarmac then path; some level stuff on a road; a steep climb up to the ridge; a run along the ridge to the high point, a sharp descent, where, of course, I was overtaken, then paths back to the finish.  And including some boggy and sloppy stuff.

Then home to some wood chopping and tea.

64 done.

Garstang Half Marathon

Another Lancashire Race.  A pleasant morning – indeed, I found it a bit hot in parts.  I was stretched to complete this half marathon; my left leg was complaining from the start, and eventually I found myself walking some of the last kilometre or so.  As well as having walked some of the uphills – perhaps 5 stretches, of which 2 were steep enough to explain my walking them.  And I did not even manage 9 minute miles mostly; managed one in 8 minutes, but quite a few in 10 minutes, and even 2 in 11 minutes (though one of those did include a steep uphill section).  Finally completed in 2.06.22, which is about what I had expected.  118th of 172 runners.  So that’s the Tod Harriers road competition out of the way.  And 63 races done now.

Garstang is in the same area as the Caldervale 10, and indeed stretches of this race were reminiscent of the Caldervale 10; so, pleasant countryside, and, generally, a paucity of traffic.  It was once an important posting town on the north south road to Scotland; the market cross still stands.  garstang crossBut it has lost all that significance; the main A6 road goes round the town and for the last 50 years that too has been bypassed by the motorway.  With a population of somewhat over 4000, Garstang does pride itself on being the world’s first fair trade town.

We were set off in the centre of town, off in a southerly direction, after a couple of miles a left turn and under the railway and the motorway and into the more rural section of the route.  With some undulation.  Eventually back under the motorway and the railway, a mile or 2 of road with traffic, and back into the outskirts of Garstang.  A traffic free paved track, then a meander through some suburban streets, and back to the finish at the cricket club.

Once the early positioning had settled down, I managed to make up a few places; lost one in my walk near to the end and then, frustratingly, even though I was ‘sprinting’, another right on the finish line.  But that’s my second half marathon of the year, so I guess I’m still chugging along.  Did the previous one in 2.05, which seems fairly consistent over the year.  Up to a couple of years ago, though, I would reckon to complete in around 1.48.  So this is a lot slower.

Brownhouse 5 km trail race

Unexpectedly, I did manage to get a mid week race this week.  Might be good preparation for the half marathon at the weekend.

On Monday I saw the Tour de Britain go past on its Lancashire leg; a nice bright day, I was there with my 3 year old granddaughter and she seemed to enjoy it too.  She was not entirely clear as to whether all the police motor bikes with their flashing blue lights might also be part of the race.

I wasn’t too confused regarding this race; as you know, I’d done the course earlier in the year, walking part of the uphill in March but managing to run it all in April.   So I guess I’m more or less bookending my 70 in 70 with Andy O’Sullivan races.  I’m pleased to report that I ran it all on this occasion also.  Got to the reservoir just as the leading runner completed his first lap.  Lapped by perhaps 30 runners.  Gained a few places, lost 2, then gained 2 on the downhill back to the finish.

The big difference this time – apart from the weather; it was a lovely bright evening, with sunshine – was the number of runners.  110 finished the race, so I think Andy was pleased with this week’s turnout (if not last week’s).  Absolutely huge numbers from Royton Road Runners; it almost felt as if we were trespassing on their pack run.

So I was 91st of 110, and 4th of 5 v65s.  Par for the course, I guess.

And here’s a picture of Andy, with his megaphone, from his website.

Andy O'Sullivan BEM
Andy O’Sullivan BEM

Only eight to do now.  Tentatively, I’m planning my 70th as the Shepherd’s Skyline on Nov 7th.  If anybody comes to join me – I’m the one in the yellow shorts.  With the white hair.  And the Tod Harriers vest.

Guisborough 3 Tops – English Championship Race

The English Championship occasionally gets to the North York Moors, and it did so this year.  The FRA handbook and fixtures calendar 2015 told us that this race was 13 km with 655 m of climbing.  It took us up Roseberry Topping, a very impressive sight; the hill looks entirely conical when viewed across the plain on the approach from the south.  roseberry_toppingOn arrival at the race venue, Guisborough Rugby Club, we found that maps of the route were available.  These told us the race was 14.75 km with 744 m of climb.  On the ground, there was little doubt that we covered 10 miles, or 16 km;  I don’t know how much climb; and for those of us who took a scenic diversion at any point, obviously it was more than that.  I for one found myself leading a group of about 8 competitors up a steep hillside, off route; that group included a recent former chairman of the FRA.

Looking back over the year, it’s interesting that I have more or less bookended my 70 in 70 with 2 English Championship races.  Flower Scar on 7th March; Guisborough on 6th September.  With only 9 more races to do.  And I think I’ve got the same number of English Championship points this time as at Flower Scar – 4.  Hoping to get more than that once I’m a v70.

Very early start for a 10.30 race; over 2 hours travelling, the usual anxiety as to whether I can find a previously unvisited destination, and a wish to be well in time for a major race.  Which I was; I parked at the rugby club.  And I didn’t have to queue for my number.

A very pleasant morning, if rather cold at first.  Which was good, as we’d had friends round on Saturday night and I didn’t get to bed until 02.00.  It kept me awake.  I knew quite a few people, but there did not seem to be many Tod Harriers.  Walked up to see where the start lay, up in the woods.  Ran out along the disused railway line to stretch my legs and get a bit of a warm up.  Did a few stretches.  Found some ripe blackberries.

Then we were set off.  Immediate uphill; slightly muddy forest path, then a woodland circuit but including some steep uphill, prior to a slithery descent more or less to where we had started.  And a lot of people had come past me; I started the usual anxiety of – ‘will there be anyone behind me?’  So I was reassured to pass a lady on the downhill slither, who answered my query by saying she did not like downhills.  Seemed quite possible I’d be able to keep her behind.

Up and off now, leaving the wood behind, and into moorland covered with beautiful purple heather.  The sun quite warm, little wind, on the Cleveland Trail.  Which to quite a degree has been paved in this area with large stone flags.  Rather hard underfoot.  Pleasant occasionally to get peaty stuff to run on as an alternative.  Next was the panhandle, a clockwise loop, up to Roseberry Topping, then round in a loop past the next checkpoint.  And before I reached the loop, I already met the first 20 or so runners coming back.  However, I was reassured as there were a good number of runners around me, going in my direction.

The path up onto Roseberry Topping is paved; it’s quite difficult getting up the steps at speed, and on this nice morning there were lots of walkers on the ascent and on the top.  Anyway, I touched the trig point and set off down the side of the hill.  At first I felt impeded by the 2 ladies just in front of me (it was a steep bracken covered hillside) but quite soon they ran away from  me as did another runner, who came past me.  I followed as best I could; and we did an extra loop which fortuitously took us back to the outward race route.  Very reassuring – there were still runners coming through.

c/o Esk Valle Fell Runners
c/o Esk Valle Fell Runners

Soon after this I achieved my masterpiece in adding a little extra scenery to the route for a number of runners; then it was off back over the moor and into the top of the wood and to the same slithery slide and we were at the finish.

I’ve never previously featured in the Tod Harriers A Team; we were 16th overall today.  Imagine where the team might have finished if at least one extra of the club’s fast runners had attended.  And for the club championship itself, this was my second most successful fell race this year in terms of points scored.  So – a good day out.

A half marathon next weekend, with a view to completing the club’s road championship.

Hades Hill

Highland cattle

So – I’m in a hurry.  And I take the back road.  And there are 4 or 5 big animals, with huge pointed horns, on the road; and my little car just fits past them.  Highland cattle.  Then I’m behind another one.  And it’s behind a white van.  Which is behind about 5 adults and 2 calves.  They’re walking up the road.  We’re not progressing very fast – the road is about wide enough for the van.  Then the van stops for the driver to discuss the situation with three walkers who have just come down to the road.  My anxiety level is not dropping.

I’m on my way to the Hades Hill fell race, 8 km, 360 m of climbing, in deepest Whitworth, in the local Lancashire countryside, near Rochdale, only about 10 miles from home.  I’ve left it late to set off.  It’s a race I’ve done numerous times; a climb up a tarmac road, which I can no longer complete (but tonight I only walk one short stretch); a left turn and then an undulating route over Brown Wardle followed by a climb up Hades Hill and a scamper back the way you came.  Not as wet underfoot as it sometimes has been.  Not as many runners as usual, so I have to scamper so as not to be competing for last place.  And it turns out that Bob from Clayton has had his birthday now; I thought it was in November.  He rushes past me on the way back down, and ends up, as usual, well ahead of me, having been trailing me at the summit; so I don’t get the v65 prize.  Darn it.  He’s beaten me every time this year.  Exactly the same situation as at Pendleton.

This is the only fell race Andy O’Sullivan organises.  He’s disappointed there aren’t more runners tonight.  He’s proud, and rightly so, of how much he has raised for charity, and this does depend on the numbers.  Hopefully he won’t get disheartened.  Hades Hill was first run in 1968, and we need to get it to its 50th anniversary.

A cold evening with a bit of wind, initially.  Once again my decision to run in vest and shorts is vindicated.  I would have been too hot in a top with sleeves.

Tod Harriers get several prizes – 1st v 45, 1st Lv 40, 1st local – so it would have been nice to add 1st v 65.  Anyway, 3 out of 4 sounds good.  And the cattle had gone by the time I was driving home.

10 to do now.


Hairy Dog Fell Race

Rather like the golf ball – never saw it.  Though there were a couple of runners accompanied by dogs.  Unusual for a fell race.  Not sure I approve.

This was a drizzly day and started off cold, but in practice the conditions were just fine for running in shorts & vest.  Quite wet underfoot in parts.

The race went from New Mills, not far from Whalley Bridge.  Wikipedia says the name arose in 1391 when a corn mill was built.  I’d always assumed it was named for the textile mills.  Commuter territory to quite a degree now, I think.

Wikipedia also gives the following extract from Pigot’s Directory (1835);

NEW MILLS, an extensive hamlet, in the parish of Glossop, and in the High Peak hundred, is 14 miles from Manchester, 6 from Chapel-en-le-Frith, and 8 from Stockport. It is pleasantly situate on the borders of Derbyshire and Cheshire; and, within a comparatively few years, has risen to importance in the manufacturing district; cotton spinning being carried on here to a considerable extent, affording employment to numerous hands.

The factories are in a great measure hid from public view in passing through the village, being built at the foot of the stream, under high towering rocks. Good house coal, as well as other kinds for the purposes of machinery, is obtained near to the village, the top bed strata running from sixteen to twenty inches thick. The village is built chiefly upon a stone quarry, but the soil in many parts is fertile, producing good crops of wheat and potatoes.

I thought this a nice race.  103 runners.  Not all that much climbing – 227 m in 9.3 km – but once we had done the brief run out we were quickly onto moorland and we had a nice run along the top of an escarpment on the way back.  I felt I did OK for a race of this sort; the usual boxing and coxing saw me neither gaining nor losing any places, from when we got onto the moor, until the end.  Unless you add in the dog that overtook me.  I finished up 83rd.

Meanwhile I’ve gone through all the races contributing to my 70; I have indeed now done 59, as I thought; so I’m almost on the run in.  I’ll have to plan which race I want as my 70th.  Won’t be long now.