Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Calderdale Hike 37mi. 13/04/2013.

Race 3 of 12 in the 2013 Runfurther series.

I arrived back in the UK just in time to take part in this, my first Runfurther race of the year and my first as a member of Team Krypton. I had expected to return to the bright green shoots of Spring. Instead what I saw from the aircraft as it descended into Manchester was a brown landscape that looked as though it was in the grips of drought. In fact it was still in the grips of winter death. The taxi driver told me it was the first day almost since I had left in February when the temperature had risen above freezing and he didn't have to scrape ice off his windscreen. It seems I had returned at just the right time. Perhaps I had brought some of the unseasonal warmth from down south with me to begin the thaw.

By the time I rocked up at Sowerby for The Hike, the sun was out and things were looking a lot more familiar. There was a fly in the ointment though: rain was forecast for later. It would encourage us to run as fast as possible. In reality we could only run as fast as our bodies allowed. In my case it took 5 hours and 22 miles for my body to realise what was expected of it and I finally fell into the groove. Shortly after that the rain began.

Things that struck me about this year's Hike:
- Snow, the first drift of which was at the side of the road as we climbed out of Sowerby. Big deep drifts and remnants of snow sculptures would later be encountered at the high point over Top of Stairs. I was amazed.
- Arriving at the Stoodley Pike checkpoint and one of the marshals holding someone's tally, seeming at a loss to know what to do with it. It had just been dropped and he asked me if I would take it to reunite it with its owner. I duly set off running down the steep side in pursuit of whoever might have lost it. I asked every early starter (walker) I overtook all the way to the next checkpoint at Lumbutts Church, where I finally found the owner just as he was about to be clipped; caught in the nick of time to avert a disqualification. I departed feeling uplifted by a job well done.
- Scrapes and gouges along the lanes, left from snow ploughing operations.
- A stark contrast between dry and sodden ground. On open areas and exposed moor tops where the snow had been blown clear by the incessant icy March wind, the peat was dry and cracking. Reservoirs were also looking somewhat depleted. In the areas where snow had drifted very deep and was still releasing melt water in places, the ground was sodden and the paths were streams.

Walshaw Dean Lower Reservoir.

I'm standing several feet above the path on the climb to Top of Stairs.

I don't think I will experience another Calderdale Hike like it, with such a contrast in conditions.

After starting in bright sunshine, clouds had rolled in by Top Withins (21 miles). Not long after that I began to feel like an ultra runner and started to overtake others for the remainder, instead of vice versa. The first rain began after the turnaround from the furthest checkpoint at Tom Stell's Seat. After that came the serious snow drifts over Top of Stairs that had to be climbed over. They were like glaciers with melt water streaming from underneath. The rain had set in good and proper by the New Bridge checkpoint. Poor memory on my part screwed up my approach to Pecket Well but I carried on strongly to finish only 5 minutes slower than last year. Without the deviation it might have been a PB, which isn't bad considering the inauspicious first 5 hours. I hope they keep the same route for the third year so I might get to do it properly.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn at the post-event presentation that Team Krypton won the prize for fastest running team of 4 thanks to Darren Graham, Will Harris and Colin Duffield.

Fastest running team Team Krypton - Nick, Colin, Darren and Will (absent).

I took quite a few pictures (apart from when the rain had set in properly after New Bridge).


  1. wierd sort of time warp going on here Nick... after a bottle of red I am struggling to cope

    1. I know, disturbing isn't it, Karen? Hope you enjoyed the reminiscence as much as I did, though.

  2. Well Done Nick, nice snow drift