Monday, 21 January 2013

The Hebden 22mi. 19/01/2013.

Dire snow forecasts meant that I travelled to Mytholmroyd on Friday afternoon by train and lodged across the road in the Dusty Miller (only just reopened after the floods of last June). As it turned out, the roads were clear and I could easily have driven there and back on Saturday as normal, but I did enjoy the relaxing alternative for a change.

Registration in the church hall looked packed, but numbers were apparently well down due to the alarmist weather forecasts. Wales and the south were getting the brunt while we further north were escaping relatively lightly. We were sent on our way by Alan along the pathways, across gardens and up the seemingly private driveways of Calderdale in light snow. It formed the majority of the fine powder on the ground, which had fallen for a day or two.

Running at lower levels through the woods, away from any breeze, soon brought on an attack of the overheats, so off came the featherweight waft-proof / spot-proof top to set the 1.5-layer scene for the day. Optimum thermal comfort would be maintained by Buff around neck for the breezier moor tops or Buff around wrist for the woods.

This was the seventh running of this event and the second time of an imposed diversion along the road after checkpoint 5 due to snow drifts. The wind-blown snow sculptures grabbed attention like they always do. Spot the smiley face:

Checkpoint 3 in the woodwork shop provided sanctuary. I penetrated the inner sanctum for a sweet cuppa, which proved too hot to down quickly. In the outer vestibule were salty beef dripping sandwiches, marzipan-filled stollen and other luxurious comestibles. I loitered longer than I had ever done in the previous six years, before forcing myself back out into the cold towards that railway bridge and right turn up the track.

Arriving at CP3.

The next steep, stiff climb from Eastwood brought the annual greeting of the SportSunday photographers, who were almost manic in their cheeriness. Is cheeriness the final stage before hypothermia and death? I pitied them having to stand still out there.

I was wearing my Kahtoola micro spikes all the way round. I was grateful for the assured grip they gave me but on balance I think they slowed me down. Running on snow-and-ice-free roads was skew-whiff knobbly crunchy noisy and not very comfortable, so the diversion after CP5 was where I got overtaken a bit more. After running more than usual in splendid isolation, I finished within 2 minutes of my slowest ever time. 4:34 compares with 4:08 fastest (frozen, no Kahtoolas, no snow) and 4:36 (the usual mud fest).

Many thanks once again to organisers Carole and Alan and all the willing, cheerful marshals and helpers. This really is the ultimate tough trail race for care and attention. Its reputation results in deserved popularity and selling out well in advance.

This is why we do The Hebden - F-O-O-O-D:

Here are the pictures I took on the day. SportSunday's splendid mementos are here.


  1. Good to see you on Saturday Nick. Nice photos and write-up. They really capture the feel of what's always one of my favourite days of the year

    1. You too, DT.

      I agree with you - it's one of my favourites too.

  2. Excellent Nick! I was amazed how full the race was when I looked late December!! ...... have to make plans this year for the next event!

    1. Mike, I was amazed how full the church hall was. I found it difficult to believe the number of no-shows.

  3. Crickey! There's whole mountains of cake! This event is going into my diary for sure :)

    1. ...and a lot of it home-made, Forest. Carole's chocolate cake is to die for. Get your entry in early next year (via Sportident so you can receive bulletin updates as well).