In a fit of enthusiasm to get a running buddy, Ste on his first ultra I signed up to run The Long Tour of Bradwell with him. That would be just 2 weeks after completing the Lakeland 50 in 12:36 and off the back of cold which had only cleared properly a couple of days before the race. But having read Nick Ham’s blogs about completing this event after completing the Lakeland 100 and the more you do the more you can do type comments well Why not? I’d “Only done the 50” so I was suitably over confident. A slightly grumpy blog follows.
Race day started early and I picked Ste up for the relatively short drive to Bradwell pointing out various bits of the long tour route on the way and realising that I have left my bottles at home bugger its hot too….. I do have 1 bottle with me fortunately. Parking up at Bradwell sports club registration was brief with a kit check consisting of signing to say you were big enough and sensible enough to look after yourself. Naturally this was followed by the usual kit faffing. As the start time approached were asked to head over to the park for the start and briefing and then a few word from the run further chap. Some how we’re inadvertently at the front as the 3, 2, 1 happens and were away Jogging up the field being over taken by the great and the good. The first mile is relatively flat and takes you round the back of the Hope cement works to the first dibber before heading up Pin Dale, fortunately free of Motor crossers for once and then there is the steady drag round to the top of Cave Dale with the views opening up. As this is all new to Ste I’m playing tour Guide. The run down the top cave dale is always a joy before we hit the technical middle section which true to form is damp and Ste gets an introduction to wet limestone, we pick away down before were able to run the lower part. My Right ankle doesn’t feel quite right……
At the road there is a check point, bottle refilled, jelly baby? Don’t mind if I do. We head off thorough Castleton on to another steady drag up towards Hollins Cross. Ste is recognised by some runners from his local park run one of whom if the spitting image for Filch from Harry Potter and we chat with them for a while before leaving them behind on the step pull to the ridge, we head down in to Edale. While I have done this route before I hadn’t quite appreciated how little flat there was. Edale comes with bananas goes with the long climb up to Ringing Roger as we contour under the tor we catch up with Legolas to sticking with the film characters theme. This is starting to feel had work. We take a less than efficient line to the Druids stone but get there eventually and dib before meeting the Mansfield Park runners again more heather bashing back to the track and pick up the steep decent back to the valley. I’m still feeling good on the downs but rationing water on this leg is proving difficult fortunately as we tackle the climb up to Back tor we find an unofficial water stop. Which is amazing and I gulp down two pints which meant I was able to eat a flapjack, we continue up Ste despite this being his first hilly run is definitely stronger than me on the ups now. I am definitely feeling this. The top of Back tor arrives and we jog on to Losehill where the Sport Sunday Photographs are I put on a Sprint for the camera and then doubling up when just past getting a laugh from the summit crowd. I love the run off Losehill’s summit and fly down the steps and past the second photographer and down through the fields Just before the railway bridge we catch up with Sally Howarth who I’d last seen suffering by the side of Haweswater on the L50 it turns out unfortunaly she DNF’d on that one. We pick up a bit of a group as we arrive at the Hope Checkpoint to fill bottles and feast on Jelly babies and enjoying some shade. We start then stop, Ste decides to sort out some stones in his shoes and as he sits down suggests he perhaps should have done this at the check point. He’s learning. But I’m more than glad to delay the departure. The next leg though leafy lanes lead up round the bottom of Win Hill and though Aston. Ste again leaves me behind on the climb up to, as some one put it Win Hill's side parting. Here there is a bit of a surprise as the route goes off the main track and along a secret trod. I thought I knew Win Hill like the back of my hand but this is new ground. We cross Parkin Clough I am back on familiar territory again and we run down to Ladybower chasing Sally again. We drop down to the Touchstone trail and just about muster a jog but end up walking a bit too much. We are caught by the Mansfield park runners at the next check point and leave in a big group. We cross the fields to Bamford Mill its stifling hot My cap gets a dunk in the mill pond before showing the group the way through the back streets of Bamford and round past the waterworks before the odd section down in to an old Holloway which always makes me expect a Troll to be hiding round the next corner. Climbing out towards the road to Stanage my shin starts to feel sore. It is as my physio tells me as a result of my ankle not properly and therefore I am running “funny”. We press on up to long drag Mr Mansfield park run is being very negative and I try to be encouraging to him and not listen at the same time. I’m low on water again and the route drags up the road on to the causeway some encouragement from a passing cyclist just before Denis knoll elicits a jog which last for just a couple of 100 yards up the track. We press on finding that CP 11 is 15 foot up a bank, its feels like a cruel trick at this point but we make it and finally on to Stanage proper. Ste is still fairly chipper I was worried that the amount of walking would be putting him off. The long drag continues to the summit each step is now hurting quite a bit and finally we are past the trig and I manage a shuffle down to Burbage Bridge CP 12.
I resolve to take some pain killers have 5 mins and see how we go I drink plenty get some food in. Bottle filed. This is the first time I have ever sat down during an ultra!
We head off on the road to cross the Burbage bridges and “Ooh this doesn’t feel good” I make it to the green lane and resolve to try 500 meters if this was a film then a little cloud would appear like in Dodgeball with Patches O’Houlihan but in this case with John Vernon saying “never retire at the checkpoint. Always try and leave” I remember his words. But this is not good after 500 yards I call it. Bugger! I hobble back to the Checkpoint Ste seams OK with binning not knowing a contour line from a trig point he’s linked to my fate due to not being able to read a map. At least he has enjoyed what we have got done. The two chaps running the checkpoint aren’t surprised to see us, I looked really bad on the way out apparently. It turns out that we are only 12th from last now so at least we wont have long to wait for a lift back. As it happens we get a lift sooner as a sweeper car is operating and were soon whisked back in the blood wagon. On the plus side were back for the presentations. And some very nice tomato soup.
So all in all a very though day out, and going perhaps too far too soon has left me with tendonitis in me right tibialis anterior and I’m doomed to a or two week of hobbling and a visit to the Physioterrorists.
My name if Richard Martin and I am a slightly broken ultra runner