Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Beacon Bash 21mi. 17/02/2013.

For various reasons beyond my control it had been 5 years since I did this event, organised by South Lancashire LDWA. It was such a firm favourite I did every one from 2002 until 2008. Prior to 2002 it was a different route called Lancashire Plain Plod. I did two of those as well but this one's much better because it has more undulations in it, including the obligatory ascent of Ashurst's Beacon.

So, here we are after a 5-year hiatus. On the later 9am start there were more runners than I recall. The day was beautifully sunny as I always remembered it but the mud, traditionally 'entertaining' in places, was a real challenge in those places and more. I was lucky to hold onto my shoes during many of the field crossings. The walkers who had set off an hour before the runners, and the Parbold Hill race on the previous day, ensured that many parts of our route were liquefied to maximum effect, while trailing brambles threatened to trip us up and lacerated our legs as they did so.

How can a sloping field be so boggy?

Based out of Newburgh Sports Club on the outskirts of Skelmersdale, the convoluted route doubles back and forth on itself through checkpoints at High Moor, Hunter's Hill, Appley Bridge Community Centre (halfway), Jollies i'th Dean and below Ashurst's Beacon. The final section to the finish changed a few years ago to eliminate the run back along the main road, but this was the first time I'd done it. It became a magical mystery tour as I navigated my way alone along rarely-used footpaths that are probably only used during this event, and having to backtrack to search out hidden stiles that I'd missed.

Thanks to the underfoot conditions, times were reckoned to be up to half an hour slower than usual (fastest time 3:15 compared with sub-3hrs). It gave us better value for money and a better body workout to stave off the inevitable decline of creeping old age (speaking for myself of course).

I didn't take many pictures because of the 'supreme effort' involved in negotiating the mud and brambles. ;-)

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