An early morning start (7.40am) to the 2nd of 2 events this weekend – a trip to Bolton with #Duncan. A frosty car meant the roads were iced over too – this was a little concerning for the state of the course too. But to be fair once out of the local area and on the motorway it soon cleared up. Until we got to the Bolton area – driving into the fog was another concern about the course again. We arrived at the same time as our other club members – #Rob & #Laura
We were that early that we must have been the handful of runners, helpers & providers that couldn’t sleep. After a cup of hot tea/coffee, we had a right giggle about having to wear GPS Tags – felt like a right criminal.
Either the race organisers didn’t trust anyone up here or the course up the hill was so long that we where going to potentially get lost running. (We would soon find out why the tags though.) The usual ‘Scousers use to being tagged’ & ‘If it’s not tagged in Liverpool it must be robbed’ comments/banter – we just laughed it off and gave it back too. (The locals thought our club was cool – loads of fun & enjoyment.)
Then it was out to the start line and into the freezing cold, damp & wind chill … waiting to just set off. Despite numerous trips to the toilets, it was still cold enough to make you want to go again.
Now the course we had been shown, didn’t look too much of a problem when you view this photo – straight forward run up to the mast and then back. The elevation profile made it look a bit more of a challenge – up for 5km and then down for the return 5km.
However!! Photos & images can be very misleading if you don’t know the area at all. As soon as you crossed the start line, you run about 100m before turning right – onto the road and the first hill climb. In a really good way it was very lucky that we had to run into the fog as we started to climb the hill – and couldn’t see more than 100m in front of us, let alone the top of the road.
A mile further one and we were still climbing the same hill, on the same road and going through the fog – it was murder on the legs and I was trying to keep to the 10mins per mile pace #Rob, #Duncan & I had said said we would try. That lasted until about the 1.5miles distance and we still climbed up the hill – sadly the fog had lifted and we could see the next rise ahead of us. At this point, both #Rob & #Duncan started to pull away from me as I struggled to keep their pace.
At the 2 miles point there was a water station – great you may be thinking – NOT!!! This was also the start of the climb getting steeper and on to the pathway along the side of the lower part of the ‘Hill’ apparently. This quickly turned into a trail or in my mind a ‘Make your own trail’ across the rough, boggy, snow/frost covered terrain. Plus it was so narrow that the leaders were coming down as we tried to go up it. Single pathways across a stepped up bridge, along the edge of the ‘hill’ in the wind chill blowing across the side of it too. The terrain under foot was really uneven and you had to focus on each step as you placed it down.
Near the top of the hill by the mast, was the turn round point and I was passed by #Duncan & #Rob as they came almost free-running back down. (A quick shout of support gave each of us the motivation to carry on.) When I got to the top I briefly stopped and took a video of the scenery – because I was positive no one would believe just how difficult this course was on the way up.
The return trip going back down wasn’t any easier than going up – it was just faster – free running because of your momentum. I past #Laura on the way down and she was working really hard to conquer the hill – I could see the effort on her face as I flew past her uncontrollably with my feet going like the clappers. (I even managed to lose my left training shoe in the boggy peat and had to go back about 15m before I managed to stop.)
Back past the 4mile water station and another quick grab for a drink – then onto the roads again. A big relief on the legs & ankles but not on the lungs. The gradient of the hill meant that there was not resting going down – it was going to be fast as you momentum just carried you down the hill. I’m sure I made up a fair amount of time going down because I just couldn’t slow down – overtaking those runners that had gone too fast up the hill.
Then into the school entrance and the final 100m or so, the big white ‘FINISH’ line inflatable was in sight. But it had a very strange feeling – like it was moving backwards away from me. No matter how fast I was run or the amount of effort I put into the last sprint – the line just wasn’t getting any closer in my mind. Then it was over – #Duncan & #Rob could be heard shouting my name and cheering me on….. it was just a big blur to me.
I only realised that I had finished when a Lady put the medal over my head and then asked me to hand in the tag before going away.
After a while we saw #Laura coming into the finishing straight and she was battling the last 100m with all the effort she could muster – I videoed this too and the crowd cheered her over the line too.
I can honestly say that everyone that finished this event – thoroughly deserved their medal today. I believe that the event is the hardest one I’ve entered because of the severity of the ‘Hill’ and I do mean the hill – it wasn’t a few small ones joined together by a road/path/trail – it was one ‘LONG HILL’ and it just seemed to go on and on.
Our unofficial results at this time are as follows:
#Duncan – 57mins
#Rob – 58mins
#Mike/Me – 64mins
#Laura – 79mins
To celebrate finishing the event, we had a lovely sausage bap & a hot cup of tea/coffee each – well deserved and just at the right time. (Not snitching on anyone – But!!! #Rob bought 2 giant pieces of chocolate cake.)
For me I am going to have a few easier days of training – in preparation for my 5th event of the year next weekend – #MadDog, which #Laura & #Rob are also entered in to. #Duncan however, forgot until just as we left that he was entered into a Marathon next weekend. How can you forget that you are doing that!!