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:
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: