All those who read my last report about the Calderdale Way Relay will know that I am hard on myself when it comes to reflecting on performance and races. I entered this race prior to running Hendon Brook and after I did that I knew I had to put in some longer runs both off and on road.
I was once again assisted by Dale “Yoda” Grimshaw as well as other members of the club. With Dale living around the corner it was ideal to meet up and just go out over the tops of Burnley. We started with a few shorter runs but soon built in 12-13 mile off road runs including Thieveley Pike around Crown Point through loads of bogs. All good practice apparently for the big day.
The morning of the race came. I collected Dale at 8.30am from his house and had already been to the toilet twice before setting off. We arrived at Haworth and followed the signs to the car park, as we were early risers we got there and managed to park on the road narrowly avoiding hitting an oncoming car that nearly took us out. Over to registration numbers collected and maps paid for. Kit checked and another trip to the toilet.
Runners started to build up and I once again started to think why am I here, 15 miles is a long way, by far the furthest I had run, so started to worry again. Got a brew and some toast which seemed to calm my nerves. Other Trawden runners were starting to arrive and I soon started to settle.
Over to the start to see the marathon runners off (missed the photo because I was on the toilet again) off they went all looking determined. Half hour later after taking the micky out of road signs we gathered down the hill. A quick talk from the race organiser about standards and we were off.
Right, don’t set off too fast, stay in the middle and run your own race. I wasn’t expecting this, it seemed like we were climbing up and away, I slowed down to get up the hills and once I got to the quarry I knew where I was. Following the pack down the hill and climbed a bit more, spoke to one female runner who was expecting a rest at the stile but a marshal had held the gate open to her dismay. Down the hill and I picked up the pace a little and overtook a few runners on the hill. I had set off okay and started to settle, up another climb and along the top I could see the steady line of runners disappearing but knew I wasn’t racing I wanted to finish and enjoy the day.
Once running I managed to stay with a group of runners passing each other and chatting away, I picked up the pace slightly and followed someone who knew where he was going. As I followed his footsteps (a bit of advice that Dale had given me) – splash! – I had slipped on a piece of mud and went flying into a large puddle all the way into the middle. A lady stopped and asked me if I was okay, luckily not a Trawden runner or I think the camera would have been out first! Picked myself up and carried on, looked at my watch and I was 5 minutes behind where I wanted to be. Well if that’s the case never mind, just keep going and enjoy yourself I thought.
And I was starting to enjoy myself and even had chance to smile for the photographers who were out on the side of the trails, I still had the same group around me some had moved off but I could see them in front. Up another hill and two ladies passed me, a quick chat about how we were getting on and off they went. They looked strong, but about 10 minutes later one of the ladies passed me again, it became apparent she had stopped for a wee.
As I was running down a hill and into a valley I found myself looking at a large puddle, sod it, in I went to try and get through – splash! – must have tripped up this time in the middle head first. No one around, quick get up! No Trawden runners with cameras, phew no one saw that.
Down and over steps around what looked like sand dunes I followed a gentleman, at this point I had started to push and I knew this guy was holding me back so I overtook him and pulled away. Through the check point grabbed a quick drink and a couple of biscuits off I went, on the tarmac I felt comfy, caught a few runners up here and one of them was cursing the tarmac, I myself was thankful for a little respite. This didn’t last long and we were back off the road and over the tops.
As I followed one runner he changed direction and I saw a gap in front, I jumped this but ended up in a ditch waste deep but thankfully no water or mud to contend with. I scrambled out and carried on laughing to myself. Down the hills I caught more runners up, 13 miles in I began to fade, this seemed like hard work. C’mon Paul, I thought, keep going!
The last two miles I found hard, don’t know why but maybe because it was flat. At one point I approached a small gap in a wall and instead of stopping I put two hands on the wall and pulled my legs through, at this point I got cramp in my stomach with lifting my legs. I looked like I had been shot, for 30 seconds to a minute I was trying to stretch the cramp out but my body wasn’t having any of it. Eventually it passed and I carried on.
Into a few built up areas and I saw one of the runners come another way, jokingly I pointed out the signs and he laughed, I turned the corner into Haworth and I knew the finish was close, onto the cobbles. Right this is my second long race with a climb at the end, this time my plan was to run and not stop until the end.
I passed a runner who had already finished and was jogging up the hill, I heard him shout “GO ON TRAWDEN” – I thought to myself keep going, don’t stop. Look up, pumping arms or that’s what I thought I was doing, don’t know what I looked like.
Half way up I could hear the TAC army at the top of the hill with Mark who had finished before me, a quick look at them, smile and wave then I was joined by my youngest son Rhys and little Chloe. I carried on up the road to the school and Rhys ran with me unfortunately Chloe took a tumble, I could hear her crying but I knew her dad had gone to get her. I could see more people clapping at the top of the school, down the steps gingerly and checked in.
That was it, I had done what I had set out to do. Soup, brew, cake, more biscuits and another brew, I was tired but glad I had finished, got the T-shirt and sat down. Looking at my watch I was 10 minutes over what I wanted to be. Was I bothered? No! I knew I had run further than I had ever done, the climb showed 1800 feet, again more than I had expected Did I enjoy myself? Yes I did Would I do it again? Damn right, what a good run, hard but very enjoyable.
I have learned from my run at the relays that although I am hard on myself sometimes, today I knew that I wasn’t going to finish in the time I had wanted and once I settled in I really enjoyed myself.
I went outside and waited for the Trawden runners at the top of the hill, first came the deadly duo Craig and David, seemed to saunter up, gave us a few choice hand gestures and carried on. Next came Kevin, Mark, Adrian and John McDonald. We had to wait for a bit for the next pair Dale and Paul, both of whom were not fit themselves, but somehow had managed the 26 miles, astonishing effort. They even managed a sprint finish to get past a lady runner who was trying to run past them. Deborah was still running but I had to shoot off so I didn’t see her finish.
I got changed and gave Dale is stuff. We went down to the car shortly after and reflected on the day, in the car I turned and said “THAT WAS A REYT GRAND DAY!”