7 February 2015 – 20 miles / 4003 ft
A new course greeted the 156 happy runners who showed up at the Old Town Cricket Club for this year’s Wadsworth Trog. Reseeding and general maintenance on Wadsworth Moor meant that the long, tough early season race had had a few rough edges sanded down and the spikes knocked off. If the Wadsworth Trog was Robert De Niro, the old route would be Taxi Driver and 2015 is more like Meet The Parents. So less chance of violent death, but still worth taking seriously. A mile or two off the length and 200m off the climb, the new route gets pretty close to the Withins and Stoop courses (or the Stanbury Splash course this year).
With lots of other runners out at Rombalds and no-one else to witness a very rare event, I somehow arrived at registration with an hour and a half to spare. Usually I’m pinning on my number and tying up shoelaces at least a minute after the last runner clatters over the cattle grid on the way out of the starting field. So I looked around, anticipating a repeat of last year’s icy gales. The weather was good, but basically it was still 20 miles of snow, mud, rock and ice and there was only so much comfort I could take from the milky blue sky overhead. The sun didn’t seem to be doing very much. New member David Anderson was also out for P&B, but that was it.
We set off up onto the fell and in the first two miles I fell on my face three times. I didn’t fancy carrying on like that for the other 18 but the snow woke me up and I started working my way up the field. Everybody else seemed to be doing the same thing in all the ice. Karl Grey, James Logue, Jack Wood and Joe Crossfield quickly disappeared into thin air, leaving the rest of the pack to fight it out. As I self-clipped at checkpoint 2, half a dozen runners ahead of me missed the checkpoint. It was cunningly hidden on a big orange pole at the end of a dam. They were looking around and as I shouted them back the rest of us pressed on up towards Oxenhope Moor.
Around this time I started trading places with a runner who wasn’t sure of the route and would ask the way in a heavy Spanish accent. Despite sounding like Speedy Gonzales he turned out to be originally from Manchester and he’d come from Barcelona to run the Trog, so it was sort of an international race, ish.
The going was generally pretty good and for anyone used to the old Trog, this is much more runnable. I was stunned to be told I was in the top 20 with about 5 miles to go, and thought I must have missed a checkpoint (ask Charlie about my nav skills). Still, with a jelly baby from Dave Woodhead and the end in sight, I pushed on past a few more with my map out ready for the last but one climb where a few tricky trods can easily lead you astray, especially if you are wearing maroon and gold. That done, it was back down towards Hebden Bridge to the lowest point on the course, and a killer of a climb up to the cricket club and finish, managing one more place one the way to come in 16th. David came in a short while afterwards in 78th, holding off a couple of others on the last lap round the cricket pitch to stay ahead by a few seconds. Soup and cake at the clubhouse went down better than a Sunday roast.
In the end, Calder Valley’s near perfect team score of 7 was spoiled only by Jack Wood’s intervention from Ilkley. Emma Bain (Northumberland) was a clear winner for the women, but 2, 3 and 4 saw a fierce battle between Judith Jepson, Karen Pickles and Nicky Spinks.
1st Male Karl Grey (V40) 2.27.24 (CVFR)
1st Female Emma Bain (FV40) 3.09.15 (Northumberland) (32nd overall)
16th Alex Jones 2.58.42 35 (25th at checkpoint 4 about a third in)
78th David Anderson (V40) 3.37.35 (very consistent, 78th at checkpoint 4)