Sunday, 17 April 2011
I'm surprised I ever got to the start line because I had been carrying a cold all week and for three nights leading up to the event I was waking up with sweats and coughing like an old donkey. In-fact
the night before, I was up at midnight and again a 2am swigging cough medicine like it was going out of fashion.
I managed to force myself out of bed at 7am when he alarm went off and when Mrs T asked me if I was still going, she was quite surprised when I said yes. After all, the Wensleydale Wander is a run/walk event and if I didn't feel up to the run when I got there then I could still walk my way round and not feel guilty.
I didn't feel like eating breakfast but knew that I had to try and I managed to get half a bowl of cornflakes down topped with a sliced banana and a light coating of sugar, followed by a cup of tea.
A quick kit check next and then it was into the car and a 10 mile drive to Wensleydale school in Leyburn to pick up my number.
All sorted by 8 o'clock and time to chill out and hydrate with a 500ml bottle of water as I made my way down to the start line at outside the Kings Head Hotel.
I was feeling a lot better by this time and just couldn't wait to get on with it.
As 9 o'clock approached the president of the Wensleydale Rotary club counted us down, the gun was fired and it was all systems go. It felt like I was firing on all cylinders and any doubt about not running had totally gone. Out of Grove Square, up the hill onto Lovers Lane and then onto the Shawl*, and it was here that the field now started to thin out with the stronger runners pulling away nicely as I settled into a pace with the mid field runners.
*There are breathtaking views over Wensleydale from Leyburn Shawl. The escape route of Mary Queen of Scots from nearby Bolton Castle, the 'Shawl' is thought to be so named after she dropped her shawl there.
Just before leaving the wooded area of the Shawl to enter the fields towards Preston I went over on my bad ankle and thought for a moment it may have been all over at that point, but a quick stop for a spot of massage and it was on with the show. So after a couple of field, through the next wooded area and it was time to visit the first check point at Preston (Approx 2.75 miles) which was just a matter of giving my number and taking a cup of water and away again.
After that it was a short run through Preston village before heading off across the fields towards Redmire (4.5 Miles) and the next check point. Same process as before and then a on my way towards Bolton Hall with an easy run across fields towards Bolton Hall. Lords Bridge (7 miles) just after the hall was the next check point and the start of a gradual climb towards West Witton for the next check point (8 miles) taking more water on before the long hard climb up Penhill*.
*Penhill (546m) is a prominent hill in the north Pennines in England. A ridge that commands the southern side of the river valley, its concave shape was formed during the last ice age, when glaciers carved the Ure river valley into a U-shape. The hill is accessible by bridleway, or alternatively by foot over open access land. The summit is home to a trig point, small tarns on the peat moor, and, visible from the valley floor, the beacon, part the large network built to warn of a Spanish invasion.
This had been a total climb of nearly 1000ft from the River Ure, through West Witton and up the side of Penhill covering a distance of 3 miles. Another check point half way up (Approx 9.5 miles) and then once the route turned left half way up the hill it was a nice easy run along Common Lane towards Middleham Moor where there was a major check point (12 miles) with drinks and even hot dogs on offer. (How could I refuse. Though it was hard trying to keep the onions in the bread roll as I was running).
After that, it was another easy run along Middleham low moor to the next check point (14.75 miles)
and with a quick shout of my number, it was a nice downhill section towards the Hullo Bridge which crosses the River Cover at just over mile 15.
I must say that at this stage I was still feeling good and in company of a couple of runners that I had met in the early stages of the race.
Now it was another easy run across fields to East Witton and another check (Approx 16.75 miles). Taking on more water, and now a downhill section to Cover Bridge, over the River Cover and after crossing the River Ure and following it back towards Spennithorne I was now on the homeward run. Passing Spennithorne, that was mile 19 out of the way and only 3 to go but at this point I was starting to feel the fatigue kicking in and opened an isotonic drink to try and pull through it. It did help a little bit but I was still only able to run a little, walk a little across the fields towards the last check on the main Middleham to Leyburn road. (Approx 20.25 miles).
Now it was mainly uphill across fields before joining Low Wood Lane which after 21 miles is a rather hard, loose rock surfaced climb towards Leyburn. While walking this section I opened another bottle of isotonic and once I was in Leyburn town centre and back on the flat it was time to start running as I couldn't be seen walking in an event like this but I soon had the slow down again as the lower parts of both legs were threatening to cramp up and only walking would take that feeling away. Now up the final hill towards the finish at Wensleydale School and I had to pull something out of the bag to run to the finish line which was a bit of an anti-climax as all you have to do is go through the front door of the school, give them your number and then the time keeper will record your time and award you with a certificate with name, number and time.
The certificates take some time to process so I went to the car, got changed, went back into the school and had a meal of baked potato with salad and by that time my certificate was ready and it was time to go home.
All in all, a great day and a great training run for bigger things later in the year.
I'm righting this on Sunday night and the tops of my legs are aching to the point where I find it hard to move when I have been sitting about for a while. I was running with a guy yesterday that was wearing a pair of Skins shorts and after asking him if they work I am now thinking of of investing in the full tight version.
Follow the Garmin link to see the rout and and splits
View of Penhill from the Shawl. Looking at it from this angle the route leveled out about half way up where the flatter part is on the left hand side. The run actually goes up the right hand side and follows it to the left.