Well, that's another race squeezed in before 2010 is out. This is the first time I have ever run a race on Boxing Day. I'm glad I did. It was the last chance to enjoy the frozen snowfields, which remained as dry and pristine as the day they were created over a week before.
The Whinberry Naze Dash is a fun 4-miler with stated 750 feet of ascent (I believe Tracklogs, which makes it 890'), organised by Rossendale Harriers at Rawtenstall. I say 'fun' because the emphasis is on fancy dress, having a good laugh befitting the festive period and not taking it too seriously, although the finishing times tend to contradict that last point. My best, well-rested and un-hungover efforts still got me a bottom half finish, same as usual. I should do some training; New Year's resolution for 2011?
I arrived at registration to be greeted by notices stating that full body cover was mandatory. Oh bum. I had no leg covering. I was going to run in shorts, given the dryness and absence of breeze. The sportswear stall that was setting up outside came to the rescue. I bought a pair of longs so I didn't have to drive the hour back home with my tail between my legs, unraced and unfulfilled. I shouldn't have worried so much. After walking to the starting area, not only were plenty of others wearing shorts, a few were naked but for the odd thread here and patch there (all in the name of fancy dress, you'll understand ;-).
Before the start was a fancy dress line-up / talent competition, which raised a good few laughs and complimentary comments at the effort involved (Jesus, Edward Scissorhands, the nuns, the Pope, etc.) and looks of horror/disbelief/admiration at the nakedness of the threadbound brazen hussies. Then we were set off on our way steeply upwards along the snowbound walled track towards Whinberry Naze. I swear one veg was on full view between the naked buttocks of a brazen one ahead, as a couple of female spectators at the stile cooed in admiration and rubbed their sore chins after just retrieving them from the frozen ground.
As we ascended steeply through the snow, it was like trying to do a fell race in sand. Each step had to be taken carefully to avoid too much slippage. At the summit, Father Christmas handed out tubes of Smarties, which guaranteed a noisy descent back down to the finish. We rattled our way along the boundary of the firing range with the crack of the guns to keep us moving, contouring the steep slope through the snow drift that made running impossible, daring to let gravity take us to the brink on the steep descents without losing control completely. I did a 360 degree skid on the sharp right turn just before the ice feature (spring), but I remained upright.
The sharp, steep return down the walled track across the finishing line got me a 37m 58s time, 72nd out of 132. I didn't wear fancy dress, save for a purple rinse curly wig, and that came off for the descent to aid cooling! The winning time of 27m 39s (James Logue, Calder Valley) puts it into perspective. I suspect he probably trains. Did I mention a New Year's resolution?
There were a few photographers out on the course. Check out the following links: