Monday, 15 March 2010

Runfurther series race 1 of 12. Wuthering Hike. Sat 13/03/2010. Supporting and spectating.

Another dry week and good forecast for the weekend promised excellent conditions for this 32-miler from Haworth (twin town Machu Picchu, Peru, no less) – the first in the 2010 Vasque Runfurther series. I volunteered again (dashing any hope of a back-to-back Grand Slam like I'd secretly planned). Race organiser Brett had said he could use some help from around 14:00 for when the rush starts but I was there by 06:30 like I would have been if I were running the event. This would provide the first opportunity since last October / November to catch up with the runners who travel from further afield for the Runfurther races. It was a busy event and first big ultrarunning reunion of 2010.

Brett deserves serious thanks for keeping the event on-track after the last-minute closure of the community centre (dodgy roof I think he said). Even though he was away leading up to the event, he still managed to organise the alternative venue at the junior school up the road, with great help from the caretaker. The enforced change made a serious dent in finances because not only was the school more expensive to hire, he had (even more expensive) two days of caretaker wages to pay, plus the additional hire charges of the Portaloos. He and his volunteers worked intensively and tirelessly all day. We are all very grateful.

I saw the send-off and watched the runners disappear up the little Haworth cobbled street before returning to the school to an empty calmness of bags and benches. The silence was punctuated only by the sounds of the Raynet people establishing their communications links, Brett discussing the day’s logistics in the kitchen with his volunteers and an enthusiastic lad who was bending the ears of anyone who would listen.

I had decided to keep myself sane with a bit of exercise by cycling back up the route to the final checkpoint, 4.5 miles from the finish, in time for the first runners. My trusty steed was unpacked from the car and awaiting me in the lobby, gleaming with cleanliness, but not for much longer.

As I waited to set off up and over the 'Top of the Stairs', I tried to make myself a bit useful by clearing the sink of its washing-up collection and topping up the tea urn ready for the later rehydration rush. Brett introduced me to the talkative one, who turned out to be none other than ‘Turbo Tom’ off the FRA forums, youngster of speed on the fells. I’d enjoyed his forum postings over the weeks – straight to the point and no beating about the bush. It was good to put a face to them. He was planning to go for a bit of a run, so we agreed to accompany one another up the return leg to the last checkpoint.

Tom was running at a decent pace but he still had breath to spare to chat as we climbed. The track became steep and uncyclable over the tops in the rocky sections and across the ‘slush puppies’ (remnants of snow drifts). Running was much more efficient but Tom was good enough to wait for me and hold the gates open. We arrived not much over half an hour after setting off, just as the marshals were finishing setting up the checkpoint. We relaxed in the sunshine to await the arrival of the first runners.

It wasn’t long before the first three appeared around the hill, running down the track towards us pretty fast. Adam Perry (Pennine), Ian Philips (Matlock) and Ben Abdelnoor (Ambleside) arrived and left together, but Adam and Ian finished equal first in 4:18 and Ben third in 4:20.
The first female through was Kate Bailey (Meironydd), who finished with the very impressive time of 4:34. Second female Sarah Rowell (Pudsey & Bramley) arrived at the checkpoint with the bit between her teeth and a look of grim determination and concentration. Looking the most focused of all, she finished in 5:11. Third female was Karen Nash (Preston) in 5:30.

The first team was the Martin duo; Messrs Beale and Indge (IPWireless) finished in 4:30. Close on their heels in second were Andrew Jebb and Andrew Nichol (Bingley) in 4:32. Third were Martyn Pollitt (Burnden) and Mark Russell (Bolton Tri) in 4:46.

Adrian Dixon (Krypton) put in another sterling performance to be the first V60 to finish; his time was 5:42.

I took pictures for as long as I could before having to get back on the bike for the return journey and my tour of voluntary duty. Phew, that climb was brutal. The lowest gears on my bike got a good work-out, not mention me and my dodgy knee. I enjoyed a chat with Wendy Dodds on the way. I tried to keep out of the way of the runners and hope I did not to inconvenience them, especially over the technical sections where they were quicker.

After checking with Brett, the timekeepers and the caterers, it turned out my services were not needed back at base after all; great, more chin-wagging and photograph-taking then. By the time I left at 16:00, the throng had subsided considerably. I then endured a journey home with right knee seriously rebelling from the exertions on the bike. The intense, gnawing dull ache was almost sending me sick and I couldn’t straighten my leg to get any relief until I arrived home 1.5 hours later. Once on my feet again, the knee quickly eased, then my left foot was reminding me that perhaps I had ‘exercised’ it more than I should have done. Another week’s sedentary existence is called for I think for the next stage of recovery.

Pictures (all 132 of them) are here. Sorry I couldn’t stop for longer to photograph more runners coming through the checkpoint. I know how you like to see your action shots on t’web ;-)


  1. Don't remember it being bright & sunny at the start but it looks it on the photos! Nice to see the fast bods - they'd mostly disappeared by the time I'd finished.

  2. The camara never lies - obviously a very sunny day. I suppose at my age I should be expecting my memory to start to get a bit dodgy which must be why I seem to remember a lot of cloud about.

  3. It had improved after 3 hours and I must have been in an oasis of sunshine, apart from when the smoke wafted over from a distant moor fire. We must live in an arid environment, or else the place is infested with pyromaniacs.

  4. kate said she say someone at registration (a thin wirey chap) who appeared to be carrying an injury or two and wondered if thats what ultra running does to you

  5. Great Photo's Nick, you've captured my best side....twice!! ;-) Hope you're well on the road to recovery.

  6. Thin, wiry? I was wearing my skeleton cycling top. Is that what Kate was referring to? ;-) BTW are we talking about 1st lady Kate? If so I am in awe. What a natural. She did a very good job of being photogenic and not tired in the slightest at the last checkpoint.

    Hi Emma, with a bit of detective work I've worked out which one's you. That was a good time too!
    The foot's well on the road to recovery, thanks. The knee still needs TLC.