Thursday, 17 October 2013

Race within a race: High Peak 40 + Lantern Pike fell race. 21/09/2013.

Race 10 of 12 in the 2013 Runfurther series
Race 9 of 10 in the 2013 Hayfield Championship series.

For many years I had a dream - to run the High Peak 40 Mile Challenge and peel off mid-race to squeeze in a cheeky little fell race before returning to finish off the High Peak 40 within the cut-off. 2013 became the year to turn the dream into reality because:
1. I was committed to running the 5-mile Lantern Pike fell race as it's part of the Hayfield Championship series and I'm doing the Grand Slam of all 10 races;
2. I did not want to miss the High Peak 40 because it's part of the Runfurther series and one of my all-time favourites, having done virtually every one since 1998.

The scheming started. I studied my split times from previous years and worked out the only checkpoint that could be used as my launch point. The only years when I was on sub-8-hour pace and fast enough to pull off the challenge were 2005, 2006 and 2007. With the speed and fitness I'd built up this year I felt reasonably confident that I could do it (at least I'd give it a damned good try, UTMB or no UTMB in the legs).

I sought the permission of HP40 race organiser Bill Allan. His reply was: "How can I refuse? No-one's ever tried that before." With that green light we did a car shuttle practice run with my willing support driver (my brilliant Dad) to check timings. All I had to do on the day was run a marathon up hill and down dale to checkpoint 8 at Tideswell Dale within 5 hours and the rest would take care of itself. I was confident I could get to Little Hayfield (half-hour journey), register for the fell race, run it (rather slowly) and return to Tideswell Dale well before the checkpoint cut-off and well before the last walker would pass through. From then on I would be working my way back through the field of walkers and the HP40 organisation would not be inconvenienced.

In the interests of brevity I'll cut straight to the chase. I DID IT!
I ran to Tideswell Dale in 4:56, 4 minutes ahead of schedule.
The Lantern Pike fell race was part of a big farmers' show and I struggled to find where to register.
I made it to the start and ran the 5-mile fell race at maximum intensity, 10 minutes slower than from fresh but I still achieved my target of sub 60 minutes.
My total time on the HP40 (2 races + waiting time + travelling time) was still not a Personal Worst.

It went like clockwork and I felt epic. ;-)

I found out several days later that I'd won the V50 Hayfield Championship prize. Of course I wasn't there to receive it because I had more pressing matters to attend to, like run back to Buxton in the warm evening sunshine. It was lovely. :-)

Lantern Pike fell race
It felt strange to be limbering up for a fell race with tired, already soiled legs. Theirs all look so clean.

Ready for the off.

Approaching Lantern Pike fell race finish.

High Peak 40
Post fell race and back on the HP40 with the Tideswell monster. Only 14 miles to go.

Nearly done. Less than a mile to go.

I had some excitement along the way on the HP40. Here's what they forced out of me on the Runners World forum:

I'd arrived at CP4 (Beet Farm, 12.2mi.) in unusual isolation. There were only one or two other runners around, the speed merchants having vanished ahead. On the long stony track from the checkpoint up to the top and right turn I was caught by a young woman who seemed to be going very well and for whom this was her first Ultra. She'd had a rude awakening because she was expecting a road race. I worried about her safety and warned that the next descent was steep and treacherous with exposed rocks due to water erosion. I ran on ahead again because I'm used to technical terrain.
The running was going unbelievably well and I felt better than I normally do at this stage. I hadn't managed this pace since 2007. I was picking my way down the steepest, rockiest part of the track with the running poise that such conditions demand when BANG, my left foot hit a solid object and this time there was no last millisecond release to allow me to stumble onwards. I was heading for the rocks and gravel at speed.
My two handheld bottles cushioned my initial landing before I continued to absorb the momentum by rolling over onto my left shoulder. I then proceeded to skid down the track on my left shoulder blade before coming to rest upside down. I waited to see which way gravity took me. I just about avoided the full somersault and fell back down onto my back, where I remained for a few seconds to gather my wits and work out where / how I was.
I'd suffered no sharp pains during the incident so I stood up, conveniently facing back up the track to see said young woman bimbling slowly and quite safely towards me. "Are you alright?" etc..... She soon disappeared ahead never to be seen again, exhibiting considerable innate running talent.
I was left with a series of parallel scratches down my back as if I'd been attacked from behind by a man-eating cat. Fortunately the task of the day wasn't derailed. Not for the first time was I thankful for the cushioning benefits of handheld bottles.

Statistics for the day

Total HP40 race time 10:41, comprising:
4:56 to Tideswell Dale (26.2 miles);
3:05 Tideswell Dale to finish (14 miles);
[HP40 running time 8:01]
1:09 HP40 to fell race;
0:33 fell race to HP40;
[Non running time 1:42]
0:58:10 Lantern Pike fell race (5 miles).

High Peak 40 pictures are here.

Lantern Pike fell race pictures are here.

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