Tod Park Winter 5k

Another John Lloyd ‘Cannonball’ production.  I didn’t go two weeks ago – foul weather – but tonight was mild, windfree, and with just some light drizzle.  Excellent conditions for the 60 runners who turned out.

Centre Vale House Centre Vale Park Todmorden
Centre Vale House
Centre Vale Park

We ran past here – but I couldn’t see it.  Firstly my head torch was not very bright.  Secondly the hose was demolished about 60 years ago on  account of dry rot, around 50 years after the park was bought by the Corporation of Todmorden.  And even without the house it’s a jolly fine park with all the usual attractions, including a statue of John Fielden and the addition, a few years ago, of a lucky dog statue.

So it was a 3 lap course; my splits for the 2nd and 3rd lap were pretty consistent.  And I was 45th.  And 1st v65.  And my time was around 50% slower than the winner, which I’m very happy with.  And I was in  the Tod Harriers team!  which came 5th.

I was fine on the first and second laps, but at the entrance to the park for the 3rd lap, having just overtaken a couple of runners, I found myself on my own.  It was black dark and I was feeling my way along the tarmac, hoping not to deviate off the path as we went up into the trees.  A great relief, therefore, when someone came past and I was able to follow him back into the lighter areas of the park.

The rumour that I’m aiming for 100 is very definitely untrue.  Certainly not before my birthday.

PFO again

Not managed to run this week – a busy time, poor weather, short days.

So I was pleased that PFO were having a second score event this weekend, just like a week ago, and off I went.

It had snowed overnight, and we had a covering of snow at home.  Freezing temperatures had made sure there was ice too.  But Burnley is at a lower altitude, so there was no snow; but there was ice.  And we were instructed we could cross the river only by bridge – wading it was considered dangerous.  There were two bridges.  And they were lethal – iced up right across.

I had learnt from  last week; I only did three reds this time.  Unfortunately, and somewhat to my surprise, I was out of time again, but only for the final black.  More of a blow was that when I had initially found the black, after my first red, the dibber did not register, so I was not credited with those 7 points.  Anyway, I ended up with the same 34 as last week, so I’m content with that.

A bigger blow is that, due to government cutbacks, Lancashire County Council is very short of cash and may be closing Queen Street Mill.

Queen St Mill
Queen St Mill

Now a textile museum, and a unique survivor of the textile industry, Queen Street Mill represents the last commercial steam powered textile weaving mill in the world.  Its loss would be very short sighted, and I hope that, despite the financial situation, its loss may be averted.

Post 70

Well – people have been very kind, lots of compliments, lovely messages and some blank unbelieving stares.

So I did  the Tod Harriers pack run on Wednesday night; chickened out of the Tod Park 5k on Thursday night because it was both bucketing down with rain and also there was a fierce wind; and I did a splendid orienteering event this morning at Towneley Park in Burnley.

War Memorial at Towneley Park
War Memorial at Towneley Park

Towneley Park has 180 hectares of landscaped parkland surrounding Towneley Hall and Museum.  Previously a private estate, much of the current landscape is thanks to work carried out in the 18th century by Charles Towneley.  The property was purchased by Burnley Corporation in 1902.

Organised by Pendle Forest Orienteers, I had not come across this format before; it was a score event, where there is a time limit, rather than a true orienteering event where you go to each control in order and your total time determines your result.  The twist was that it was based on snooker rules; so, a red control, then any colour, then a different red followed by any colour, and so on, then once you had tired of reds, all of the colours in order, that is, yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and finally black and back home.

I knew I was over reaching myself in doing 4 reds in the 60 minutes; then the yellow control was far more difficult than I had expected – though as you might expect, studying the map in the comfort of my own home I see that was my doing rather than the organiser’s – and, while I expected to be out of time for the final pink and black I was unfortunately also out of time for the blue.

So, I did red black, red brown, red blue, red black, then the colours.  And, studying the map at home I’m pleased with my route choice – if I’d gone faster, and not messed up yellow, I would have had a very respectable score.  As it was, I was far from last; indeed, I was in the front half of the field.

Not only that, but the rain held off, amazingly, considering the weather just now.  More than damp underfoot, but that is to be expected at this time of year.

Completed – and an unexpected, lovely present!

Done it.  All 10 km and 350 m of climb of it.  There’s been a fair amount of rain in recent days, so a lot of the paths were raging torrents; not as deep a layer of slutch as I had expected, though.

c/o Dave Woodhead
c/o Dave Woodhead

And I’ve done all 70 now.  Bit of an anti climax, really, as I write this a day later.  The hardest was obviously Heptonstall, but Wardle with its powerful blasting wind sticks in the memory as a beast.  I’ve been quite lucky – a few days off with a virus, and then later with a painful heel after the Garstang half – but otherwise no setbacks, and a massive cushion in terms of time, as my birthday is not till March.  Lots of friendly faces at many of the races, and people asking how I was getting on with my 70.  Overall an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Must learn to run downhill!  It would only have made a few minutes and a few places difference, but I worked hard to take a couple of runners on some difficult uphill stuff in the latter part of the race, and to lose that on account of my descending inadequacy is still galling.

So this was another Tod Harriers race.  Just like the first of my 70, which was Flower Scar.  The Shepherds’ Skyline takes us gradually up and  past Stoodley Pike, our local landmark.

The Pike seen from race start. c/o Jenny Ehrhardt
The Pike seen from race start.
c/o Jenny Ehrhardt

This is followed by a helter skelter dash down to London Road after which there is a steep climb back up to the Pennine Way, leading to the long gradual descent to the finish.

c/o Eileen Woodhead
On London Road.                    c/o Eileen Woodhead

The day started as a stinker.  The rain didn’t come down in buckets – more like ten power showers.  It was almost a surprise, arriving at the pub, to find people there who clearly were intending to run.  But by the time I was marshalling the junior races, the rain had stopped, the clouds had shifted, and we had blue sky and sunshine.  Watching the youngsters was invigorating, even though standing in a stream in wellingtons may not have been the ideal warm up for my race.

It clouded over for the main race, and we even got a bit of drizzle for a while, but the conditions were pleasant.

Running! almost back at the Pennine Way. c/o Dave Woodhead
almost back at the Pennine Way.
c/o Dave Woodhead

Well over 200 runners, so it was rather a squash on the initial run out, but I eventually settled into my usual position, not too near the front, and chugged fairly contentedly round the course.

c/o Jenny Ehrhardt
c/o Jenny Ehrhardt.               End in sight!

To top off the race, the Race Organiser gave me a prize just for doing 70 races, a friendly touch – I wasn’t in sight of a prize for any other reason.  A few of the chocolates have still not been eaten.  And he’d very kindly announced it was my 70th race at the start as well.

Best thing of the day?  The lovely lady who turned up specifically because she had heard it was my 70th race.  I’ve known her for years, and she brought me a present.  Not just any old present; two cushions and a blanket she had made for me in Tod Harriers’ colours.  A beautiful present, made all the more special in that it was totally unexpected.

What’s next?  I guess I’ll go on running as before.  Might get in a bit of orienteering – haven’t done any this year.  And I’ve lost my excuse for skiving off from Search & Rescue team training.

I did wonder about trying to locate 70 trig points to visit . . .

Watch this space.

Counting up

So – I’ve one more race to go.  So – the anxiety sets in.  Can I really count?

Well – it’s correct.  I have done 69.  But you, dear reader, have been cheated.  For I did not post after the Geoff Doggett Memorial Cowm 5 k on Tuesday 5th May.

My apologies.  I guess I was tied up with preparation for what was supposed to be a successful general election two days later.

However that may be – my final race of the 70 will indeed be next weekend.  I’ve had a quiet time recently so far as running is concerned; in Vienna I ran from the city centre out as far as the Donau Insel and the Alte Donau and back; in Budapest a rather more enticing and very steep run – including some flights of steps – up Gellert Hill to the Citadella which towers over the city and which had me gasping for breath when I reached the top.  The Citadella was erected after the 1848 insurrection so the Austrians could keep control over the local Hungarians.

Citadella - high above the Danube
Citadella – high above the Danube

A liberty monument was erected after WW2; post 1989 the Soviet soldiers were hacked off it and put in a park far away.

Liberty Monument
Liberty Monument

We were staying at the Hotel Gellert – inspiration for the Grand Budapest Hotel.  Fabulous – I’d recommend it to anybody going to Budapest.  Not expensive by UK standards.  And you get a free entry to the hot water spa.

Hotel Gellert
Hotel Gellert

Then I missed the pack run this week because I was on a call out with the Search and Rescue team.  Perhaps next week.