14 February 2015 – Windy Hill – 9 miles / 1281 ft
No romantic lie in this valentines morning (is there ever with two kids), as it’s all up, washed, breakfasted and out the door before 10am (harder than it sounds). Dad’s got a race today.
I was planning to do the first running of this race last year as it’s only 25 minutes along the M62 from Cleckheaton, but due to a bout of man flu had to give it a miss and instead opted for Ovenden Fell Race (which seems to have been cancelled this year) the following week, for my first fell race of the year.
Arriving at Hollingworth Lake this appeared to be quite a popular and very well organised, if not on the pricy side (£8 on the day) fell race. Plenty of (free) car parking and plenty of pens, what more do you want!
A quick look around shows that I’m not the only P&Ber to have made the short journey over the hills as the ever present Mike Rees and Caroline have also made the decision that there’s more than one way to have some dirty valentine’s day fun.
Above: Scott and Mike working their way uphill through the fog (Photo c/o Woodentops)
Looking round at the start there appears to be in excess of 200 starters, and seeing as were at the wrong side of the Pennines, quite a lot of unfamiliar vests on display as well. The start is quite fast along a track and from the off I can see the two CVFR lads striding off up at the sharp end. This fast start only lasts for about a third of a mile before a very short but steep ascent gains us enough height to double back over the motorway. The next mile and a half is spent following the Pennine Way bridle track along the foot of Blackstone Edge and as its mainly flat and the suns trying to get out things couldn’t be better.
Then we turn right, and for the next mile and a bit (it felt much longer) its straight up, only now the sun has decided to disappear and the fog has descended. Eventually a trig point appears in front of me and that it, the top. The next 10 minutes are spent aimlessly running from flag to flag as they slowly appear in front of me through the fog which by this time has reduced visibility down to about 5 meters.
Once past the rocks of Blackstone Edge the path once again becomes very runnable with the exception of a newly paved stretch which although may be to the liking of the local ramblers, is not the best surface to run on, especially when wet.
And then before you realise it you’re running across the footbridge high above the M62. Its at this point that I seem to get my second wind and start to pull a couple of places back. This stretch on the tops is mostly flat rising slightly to the top of Windy Hill itself.
From the top of Windy Hill it’s all back down hill and very fast on some decent not too steep runnable tracks. About half way down it appears that I can see again as ive left the fog behind, and can just about see the finish in the distance along with a couple more runners I may have a chance of catching.
I do manage to catch one or two more before were on the rugby field with the finish in sight. It’s a final 100m ‘sprint’ to the line and that’s it. Upon crossing the line, along with a cheer from the kids, your given a disc with your position on and am quite surprised to see it says 21st (better than I thought, but then again for most of the race I couldn’t see much). Once everyone is back the results and prize giving are quickly underway and then that’s it. Were back home for the rest of the afternoon.
Scott Alder 21st 1:06:16. Michael Rees 115th 1:20:55. Caroline Harding 183rd 1:31:33. (Full Results Here)