My old club, Longwood Harriers, held their annual point to point race last Saturday. It starts with a long steady climb onto Castle Hill where runners circle Victoria Tower before shooting off through fields and over walls in as direct a line as possible to the Church at Farnley Tyas. From there on it's mainly roadwork to the Finish point in the village of Newsome.
|Arms of Sir John William Ramsden Click pictures to enlarge)|
Although I'd already run up there earlier in the morning I walked up again to cheer them on and take a few photographs of them rounding the tower. As I waited I happened to notice an old Coat of Arms in the weathered stonework that bore the motto AUDACES FORTUNA JUVAT which translates to Fortune favours the Bold.
|The leader setting a hot pace...|
How true, I thought, as the leader boldly mounted the 160 steps to the tower, boldly knocked off the brakes as he careered back down, boldly vaulted or climbed all obstacles blocking his beeline to Farnley, then boldly pulled out all the stops to stay ahead of rivals in the long run for home. Yeah, old Virgil knew what he was talking about. It had clouded over for the race and a cold, near gale force wind had got up. I'd difficulty holding the camera still but it kept the runners cool.
|....and another hot on his heels, leaning into the wind|
Conditions were totally different three hours before, not a breath of wind and clear overhead as I set out along the dark lane. A sickle moon hung high in the sky, an early buzzard mewed in the distance, a narrow strip of red lined the eastern horizon, cattle rested in the dark field contentedly chewing cud with nary a movement as I ploughed through them.
|One of my friends, though he probably doesn't know it..|
In breaking light one of the hill's resident crows cawed a welcome (or maybe a beggar off) as I circled the hill the first time. Surprisingly, there were no rabbits and I wondered if that calling buzzard had sent them underground?
More likely some earlier dog walkers.
|7am, and the world comes alight|
Then all at once the sky turned a wondrous red, prelude to the fiery eruption about to take place across the valley just left of Yorkshire's tallest building, Emley Moor transmitter. It's always the same. I just want to stay there as the pageant unfolds, clicking away, trying to capture it all on camera before it disappears. No matter how many shots I get, I always want more, never satisfied with the ones I've got because none can faithfully capture all the magic of that blazing sky. Then all too soon it's gone.
|Running in the sun, feeling the fire...|
How do artists cope, I wonder, when they try to capture some beautiful landscape? By the time they've set up their easels and charged their palettes it could all have changed, the cadmiums to alizarins, or some colour they haven't got.
|More wild food|
Mushrooms were dotting one of the fields I ran through and I rued the fact I hadn't a bag with me. They'd be worth stopping a couple of minutes for to supplement my meagre diet while my wonderful partner is basking in the land of the giants...
|Giants at a Barcelona Festival|
A lady 'taking her dog into the field' at Clough Hall stared open mouthed as I sped past. She knows me, knows how old I am, and perhaps didn't expect me to be running so fast. If race organisers would extend their prize lists to include an over 80 category I might even start racing again. I'd show 'em...
... in my dreams!
... in my dreams!