15 November 2014 – 5.5 miles / 945 ft
While hardier men and women hightailed it up to Pendle to battle witches in the fog, the rest of us decided to pit ourselves against the machines in the annual Harriers vs Cyclists race held in Bingley. For those who haven’t heard of the race, it’s exactly as it sounds – you can enter as either a runner or a cyclist and the first 10 finishers of each category score towards seeing which method of propulsion is deemed the most victorious on the day!
We had a nice little P&B group out for this – Neil, Rachel & myself, Claire, a still-slightly-sozzled Niall (whose gleaming little booze-eyes made him look like he was essentially still on his work’s do from the evening before), and a lesser spotted Finny – on foot this time after cycling the race last year.
The array of pre-muddied mountain & cross bikes and pacing runners gathered at the bottom of the field and regarded the uphill start… Always a bit of a tricky one – do you leg it full pelt to get ahead of the cyclists (and avoid having to duck and bob under the wheels of bikes slung across shoulders) or do you start steady and save some energy for the rest of the course? The race organiser shouted “OK everybody, on three…. THREE!” and everyone was off like a shot.
The course was very muddy and featured a nose-assaultingly pungent sea of cow muck which also needed traversing. Once through the worst of the mud and crud, there’s a section of slippery, concrete duckboards to skate along – great fun for runners and cyclists alike.
As a change this year, the bridleway section required cyclists to dismount or face an unspecified time penalty, perhaps to many runners’ relief as I remember it being delightfully chaotic with bicycles through that section last year.
As the bulk of the racers climbed up through the rocky woods and emerged into the open, Neil had pulled away with the lead group of runners, with Niall a little distance behind, and myself holding steady a little ways after that. Rachel, Claire and Martin stayed in a bunch, drafting one another along in a perfectly executed chain gang.
From there it was a steady 2 mile or so climb up through the fog to Hope Hill, with some much appreciated support from Sarah R partway up. Right at the pinnacle, another slight course change provided an additional little hill and a string of ‘I don’t remember this bit’ mutterings from runners and cyclists alike, but before you know it you’re descending gleefully back the way you came. Back up the bridleway path, slippy-slidey along the duckboards, a final wade through the Great Poop Lake, and one last muddy descent to the finish line. Lovely stuff.
Overall winner was Rob Jebb ont’ bike, with Bingley’s Andy Brown first runner. For the ladies, Vic Wilkinson (Bingley) had a storming run, and Emma Osenton (Kinesis Morvello Project) was first cyclist. Undoubtedly helped by the muddy conditions, the runners were the overall winners.
Neil Armitage 10th (6th runner) 39:30. Niall Bourke 32nd (21st runner) 43:46. Graham Pilling 51st (34th runner) 45:44. Claire Green 63rd (4th L & 44th runner) 46:55. Rachel Pilling 69th (5th L & 49th runner) 47:12. Martin Finn 129th (81st runner) 50:30.