Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Moors The Merrier 26.4mi. Sat 18/07/2009

Moors The Merrier
I'm slowly becoming used to the fiddly Calderdale footpaths, even though I had to be pulled back on track several times by Geoff Holburt because I was trying to run from memory of last year's event.

MTM starts from the same location as and is organised by the same group that organises The Hebden in January. Alan Greenwood and Carole Engel plus helpers of Calderdale LDWA put on superb events. Walkers and runners are welcomed. Indeed, it is possible to enter on-line via Runner's World and SportIdent, ensuring full exposure among the running community. There were more speedy runners this year on the second running of this route.

We were sent off by Alan at 8am to run the full marathon distance (actually 26.4 miles) via Dick's Lane in the shadow of the Stoodley Pike monument to checkpoints at Lodge Hill, Hippins Bridge, Rapes Clough, Clough Foot and Gib. The route is challenging, some of it entirely off-path on open access country. One off-path section is reminiscent of the Rhayader Mountain Trail, though on a much smaller scale and with much smaller tussocks! There is no chance of getting bored in Calderdale. If (heaven forbid) you should find yourself getting bored, wait a minute (possibly two) and the scenery / terrain / view / direction will change to reignite your interest. Apart from that, the challenge of always adapting to the varying terrain and conditions in order to give of your best should keep the interest and attention honed to the max.

The conditions were quite challenging this year. Even though it was considerably cooler than last year, 24 hours of heavy rain leading up to the event meant that conditions on the ground were more like we would expect in winter – water and mud everywhere and thoroughly splattered legs by the finish. I have never seen the river so full, not even in January when The Hebden takes place.

This event was most unusual in that I ran it with two other runners, Geoff Holburt and Adam Purcell (a New Zealander, no less!). Normally these events turn into solitary affairs with 'every man for himself' as he gives of his best, speeds never matching. However, this time I was running on Geoff's coat tails, benefiting from his route knowledge. As for Kiwi Adam, this was his first time at this event distance. Not only that (I hope he won't mind me saying), he thought it was a road race when he entered. Shock horror, this couldn't be more off-road if it tried! Unaccustomed to the terrain, route descriptions, maps, compasses, navigation, trail/fell shoes (he was wearing road shoes but I don't think he fell over once) he stuck valiantly to Geoff and me as we made our way round to finish in 5:21. Superb performance Adam! You will go far. It may have been a baptism of fire but I bet you won't want to go back to road running again ;-)

I was amazed to get a PB by 24 minutes over last year's time. “PB Ham” does it again. Many thanks to Geoff for dragging me back on route whenever I got too cocky for my own boots and raced on ahead (always on a downhill) and invariably went wrong.

Needless to say, I took some pictures. However I only managed three this time before a “memory card error” put a stop to it. What I did take is linked here.