Let’s do an Ultra in December! Why not I’m a runner now I said so in my last blog…
The Alarm goes off at 5 am ……….. Why do I do this to my self? I prise my self out of bed and pull on my clothes throw the bags in to the car and scrape the frost of the window. Feeling groggy I point the car in the Direction of the A1 and off we head. The drive up to Patley Bridge is actually a joy on a clear crisp morning with a huge full moon; it was greatly improved by a large coffee and a flapjack at the services. Heading in to Nidderdale as dawn is breaking and there are some stunning views over the frozen valley as the road winds its way through picturesque villages where pubs and business are still sporting their yellow bikes from the summers Tour De France Grande depart. The low sun twinkles off the hard frost and the new world symphony plays and a boy push is a Hovis bike up a steep hill. Ahem sorry where were we, ah yes Patley Bridge.
Having successfully found Pately Bridge and then Riverside car park I make my way to registration, Jack Frost is very much nipping at my ears. Registration is in the Local Scout Hut and with the forms completed and number issued it was time for some monumental kit faffing, Mid Layer in other mid layer out, Extra Buff in etc. etc. number secured. I think this may have been nerves but after 3 trips back to the car I was sorted well sort of. I had a chance meeting with the marshal of Omni presence from the Goathland Marathon who turns out to be Rob Collier who is running this time. As I mill round the hall there are some familiar faces including Mr & Mrs Hardmoors Jon & Shirley Steele. I think Jon and the frostbite race director Rob Jarman are good friends as Jon appears to have leant Rob his stretchy tape measure, the Frostbite 30 having 11% extra free at 33.7miles well I do like good value and will create even more before the days out. Finally we are called for the race briefing unusual rules about shutting gates and violent sheep are added to the usual. And we head out for the start.
The Horn goes and we’re off! No were not, yes we are! No were not, oh we are. It’s a bit stop start as 200 runners vie for space as the route is funnelled along the narrow paths of Patley Millennium Green, and even narrower ally ways reduce us to single file before we are spat out on the Bridge. Not the most grand of starts but we are soon away, on a good track leading down the River Nidd to Glasshouses. This section has lots of old industrial looking water features all of which are covered by what looks a quite substantial layer of Ice. Crossing the river we start up the steep side of the valley the climb up to Guise cliff and it’s a good one, the type that sorts the men from the boys and as I was keeping up with Jon Steele and Co I consider I may have graduated (we’ll gloss over the fact he’s injured). Once on the top of there are some superb views but the occasional Ice patch, narrow technical single track, over hanging branches and the odd big drop to the right keep the mind focused on the way forward, winding past the remains of the folly of Yorke’s Tower there is nearly a pile up. Were all running in close order and some one at the front goes down, they’re OK. The bloke behind me asks if it’s a broken ankle which I think is a rather odd thing to say, their trying to run it off if it is I respond. Mr Sport Sunday appears Say Cheese I feel quick down the technical decent to a road crossing enjoying the solid ground and avoiding the Ice patches through the woods down to Shrike Farm. The next section was through some picturesque farm land and before picking up a long road climb and undulating track section over Ladies Rigg. Here the wind starts to make its presence felt and Gloves and extra Buffs are don’d before the road becomes track and descends to the old lead mines and an interesting decent picking my way over the frozen old spoil heaps and a rickety tin bridge down to the stream and up on to a track down to Spring house caravan park. The Route then takes the river back to the Start at Patley Bridge Scout Hut or Checkpoint one as it’s now known. I completed “Part1” in about 1:48ish which was quick considering I had tried to pace my self at the start and it’s safely under the 3 hour cut off. Time for a quick foot sort out as my little toe was feeling odd fortunately on removal of shoe and first sock I found its just my injinjis are not sitting right, a quick damage inspection reveals no major problems and two mins faffing I decide that my toes aren’t going back in to their little pockets so I whip that one off and replace the other sock. Not quite running not quite with one sock on and one sock off. I finally remember to clock in grab some snacks and a shot of Jagermister to warm the cockles apparently and head off up the river. You’ll notice I didn’t mention refilling my water bottles there …… I didn’t ……………. This was pretty stupid for someone who sweats like a Gordie in a spelling test. I had a bottle and a half left which I thought would be fine but I would spend quite abit of the rest of the race spitting feathers. Lesson learnt.
The lolly pop stick for the begging of “Part 2” was a along the River Nidd East towards the hamlet of Wath. Things are starting to thaw and the ground is softening up and after the climb past the Dam of Gouthwaite Res the Track has some exceedingly large lagoons of very wet mud. I started to over take a few people on this stretch. My passing more akin to lorries over taking on the motorway than a speedy F1 pass but I am creeping up the field. Grouping up with a couple of other runners some ignorant people who happen to be on mountain bikes let us pass by oh no they cycled straight at us, that was right. Without a word of greeting, apology or even acknowledgement. Come the revolution brothers and sisters the ignorant will be first against the wall or maybe second after the spatially unaware…. Sorry where were we
Ah Bouthwaite, Having successfully avoided being mown down I arrive at Bouthwaite to find Mr Jarman himself marshalling us through and 500m down the road there is a mini checkpoint taking our numbers and offering some water. Afterwards it is over an old stone bridge and along the valley before we head on a long steady climb. I start to struggle a bit with motivation as the wind picks up again. I check my phone for my distance and find I have done 16 miles in 3:14 good pace and I will end the Day with a half marathon PB. I seam to have a bit of a low around the 15/16 mile mark in most races, but walking this long climb and munching a cliff bar seams to give me a rest enough to get some mojo back. As the route heads downwards again I muster a jog and pick off a few more of the runners ahead on the way down to How Stean Gorge, and a first meeting with a mysterious photograph (run faster!) and the post van which wins and I let past on the narrow road. Once past here we start The Climb! About 3 miles of up some of which is very steep first climbing up to Middlemoor. Which I had seen from further down the valley perched on a spur looking impossibly high up for a village with an impressive church dominating the view, the road in is almost steep enough to consider a rope! Still my steady march means I am starting to drop people as we clear the village, a Marshall gives encouragement and says its two miles to check point 2 ah water at last! Heading up In Moor Lane towards the summit of Rain Stang a group of
Tossers motor crossers pass leaving me coughing on their fumes as they tear lumps out of the partially frozen track. Up and Up we go until finally the track levels off and then drops down to scars house res on a track that is fairly brutal and covered in patches of Ice and loose rocks, I catch up with a chap with a freshly bloodied knee as we hit the bottom and head in to check point 2 with a little acceleration for the Mystery photograph. I fill my bottles and take a few moments to enjoy 2 cups of hot squash I think I babble some rubbish about moral in a cup. My moral is indeed much improved the hot drink being just what the doctor ordered. The weather had been fine up to Middlemoor but had started to deteriorate since. Cloud had been coming in with some ominous looking mist further down the valley and winds starting to really pick up. The big climb before the checkpoint had been exposed to the full force and was increasing chilly. I have a quick chat with a marshal discussing the home leg it’s only 13 miles left just a half marathon then…… I love ultra running I am almost home I only have a half marathon to run first. Yeah fine let’s go. And I do with a hand full of wine gums.
I leave just as big group of runners arrive most of who were the runners I was leap frogging with prior to Middlemoor at I am quite pleased to say it’s the last time I see most of them till the finish. I cross Scars House dam with Mr Bloody knee we dodge the postman again on the dam top road. Mr Sports Sunday appears, takes a seat in the middle of the road and suggests we have to hurdle him brave man! He snaps a ways as we jog past once over the dam we climb out of the valley on the far side I pull away from him as the route drops in and out of a deep re-entrant on a rough Landover track. I manage to reel in another couple of runners one of whom is really struggling up the steep climb. As the route climbs it hits a track that follows the edge of the high ground along Brown Ridge and becomes fully exposed to the wind which is now getting quite strong. This provides ample motivation to get a shift on I also can see some runners ahead and with the racing head also starting to kick in I am making good progress and I close in on and pass Mr Green Jacket over the course of the next km or so, and Start to chase down Mr Fluro Jacket. Just after a superbly sited Shooting Lodge the route cuts back and heads to a road crossing, there is another Mini Check Point proffering chocolates and Cheerful Marshals. A short climb after the road leads to a long steady decent on which I pass Mr Fluro with Mr Green now no where to be seen. There have been good views back along the ridge we appear to be well clear of anyone else. I open up a bit of a gap but towards the bottom I start to struggle again, but keep plodding but on the short climb out of Beck I look back to see Mr Green Jacket has reappeared and he’s shifting shortly after he passes me like I am stood still. Mr Fluro has also closed the gap and as we descend back to Bouthwaite to close the lolly pop I have just managed to hold him off, seeing him appear just as I close the numerous gates that cross the track but as I start back on the Stick the l don’t see him again! And there are 2 reasons for that! As I approach Covill Grange Farm I hear foot steps and turn back expecting to see a refreshed challenge from Mr Fluro but I am passed by Mr Orange where did he come from? I can see two more runners catching me in the gathering gloom and I muster another run along the tarmac and try to stay with Mr Orange which I manage for a bit I am still managing to stay suitably in front of Mr Fluro that he isn’t appearing in the rear view but Mr and Mrs OMM jackets have appeared out of the gloom I keep them a suitable distance behind and Mr Orange a suitable distance in front until in the Near Dark I follow the wrong fork and only realise when I see Mr Orange on the Track Below arse! Mr and Mrs OMM have followed me so we double back and plough on through the now thoroughly defrosted lagoons of mud that form the Track no one appears behind us Mr OMM is struggling feeling sick and dizzy but I can only manage to keep up at this point. As we continue we realise that were climbing a bit too much and realise that were on the wrong track Mr & Mrs OMM jackets decide just to plough on that the track will finally come out in the right place. I decide on checking the map and as I am carrying a head torch I might as well use the thing (if I had done that 15 minutes ago? ……..) Quick check of the Map and yes this track will get us back to Wath. Then in Typical French fashion the head torch goes on strike. After some negotiation it lights our way back. We rejoin the route and I have to break the news that were not there yet as Mrs OMM who thought this was the end. I point them on the right route and with lights coming down the route that competitive streak I spent 2 blogs denying I had kicks in and I start to run the final 2.5km worth of muddy fields, no one catches me and I even remember to cover my head torch when checking back to see where people are. Soon I am back to Pately, a short loop of the millennium green and finish I give my number and receive my finishers Cowbell! I have my usual post finish Oh what am I doing moment and finally remember to turn off Strava on my phone. Shoes off and head in to the scout hut for home made soup and tea!
Strava Says 7:28:00 for 35 miles my official time is 7:26:12 pretty pleased with that all in. I’ve achieved a half marathon PB in to the bargain! 4:53:00 Won it and Last man in was 9:12:28 so I was comfortable in my mid-table mediocrity. Mr Fluro finished 2 minutes ahead of me ….. Bugger.
So all that was left to do was to stagger stiff legged back to the car sort out my kit and Freeze as is the tradition then go and find my B&B why are single rooms always on the second floor? The evening’s food certainly deserves a mention the stake & ale pie from the Royal Oak was immense! A piece of pie the size of a Hardback book was delivered with a mountain of chips and veg. So enormous was it that it defeated me despite having run 35 miles! Epic Pie!
My name if Richard Martin I am a pie filled ultra runner