Wadsworth Trog – 4th Feb 2017 – 19 miles / 3650 ft
– Matthew Seddon
There are not many races that appear to have entered the fell runner’s lexicon as a verb. However, for hardy folk around West Yorkshire, to trog, has a definite meaning. In brief, to trog is to spend a good number of hours racing around on winter moorland in the first weekend of February. This was the first time I would trog. In brief: starting above Hebden Bridge, you trog hither and tither until you can trog no more. Then you have to drag yourself to the finish.
I had recced the route with Charlie and David but that was in November. Perhaps it was the passage of time but I didn’t remember it as being anything more than a pleasant, albeit long, day out on the moors. However, on the start line I heard people talking about “the Trog” – a proper noun this time – or “the beast” and I was wondering whether there was something I had missed. On top of that, I had not run more than 10 miles since our November recce. Even my “long runs” over Christmas had not lasted more than an hour and a half. Of the three of us that had recced the route, the only other P&B runner to race was David. David appeared to have spent the last few months doing no running at all, preferring instead to fold himself into a myriad of different yoga positions. So both of us set off with some trepidation.
My plan was to break the race in to three parts. The first part to CP5 was to be taken at a decent but not fast pace to see how I felt. If the legs were responding well I was going to run the second third at a higher effort to CP10. After this, I would be about 5 miles further than anything I had run the previous three months so the plan for the last third was to hold on for dear life.
The race starts by going up and over High Brown Knoll before dropping down to a reservoir and up the other side over Midgley Moor to the road. After crossing the road, you drop down into a farm and hit CP5. This was all wet and soft under foot. It was boggy moorland running at its purest and I loved it! There is something about running over harsh boggy moorland that fills me with joy. So much so that in the midst of putting in an effort to catch a group ahead I realised I was grinning madly. After starting steady I had picked up a few people and caught up with a group towards the front. By the time I had arrived at CP5 I had decided to race it.
The second third is the longest but most runnable section that I had labelled “FAST” on my map. It’s a long stretch of road, then track, then firm ground until you cross the Stoop route. From there it’s soft again until you arrive at the Pennine Way and go over the flag stones past Withins and down to the reservoir. By this time, I realised I was passing people that used to beat me by a good margin so I held back a bit. After the reservoir you follow the Heptonstall route on another track, eventually arriving at an interminably long farmers field and a dash up Shackleton Knoll. By now I was well beyond anything I had done in the last few months in terms of distance and was running by myself. I also realised I had started making some silly route choice errors and the cramp daemons were malevolently plucking the fibres of my calf muscles. Knowing that I was on the verge of imploding I stopped to get my bearings and recollect myself for the final third.
The final third is only about 5 miles long but is not to be underestimated. Just as I got my bearings a Todmorden runner caught me. In the end this was fortuitous because after crossing the road, going back up the moor, and past High Brown Knoll for the second time, the race goes South following an ambiguous line through the bog and tussocks. With the local knowledge of the Todmorden runner we took a good line and reached CP12 quickly. Waiting at CP12 was Caroline, who cheered me on. By then I was in a bit of a state and I can’t say that I was conscious of hearing her but it must have done me some good because coming off the top I was filled with enthusiasm and energy. From here, a fast descent through some farm fields arrived at a road and a last minute flagged diversion. A couple of other runners had caught us and I was keen to get some distance on the road. Feeling a renewed strength, I pushed down the road but following the flags proved trickier than I thought and I missed the turning from the track taking all the following runners with me. After expressing our frustration with reality we made it back to find another runner had joined our party. I somehow managed to get enough distance downhill through a short slippy ginnel to arrive at the final hill with a gap. What followed was a slow motion effort up through a soft field and then a lap of the cricket club. I finished 14th in a time of 3 hours 4 minutes, which is probably my best result of any race so far.
I was joined by David who had found the going tough. “I just forgot how to endure the pain” was his summary of the race. However, he was still 3 minutes quicker than his previous best time! Sat on chairs outside the clubhouse, nursing a soup, and basking in the winter sunlight, we watched the rest of the field come in. The buzz of the clubhouse and the finishing runners reminded us of why we love racing. It was a great way to finish the day and we both felt thoroughly trogged.
Matthew Seddon 14th 3:04:16. David Anderson 86th 3:40:47. (FULL RESULTS)
Great write up.