|Burnsall and the River Wharfe - before the rain
After a steady week's training (a delightful five miles cross-country, a good interval session on the track and six miles gently trundling along the River Wharfe) affairs took a steep downward turn at the weekend. My old body is getting a bit out of control.
On Saturday we went along to Burnsall Feast Sports to spectate, socialize and take a few photographs of friends and acquaintances competing in the 10 mile road race, the Classic Burnsall Fell race, not to mention the hilarious Mummers doing their stuff on the village green.
|My old mate, Bill Wade. 1st MV70
in the 10 mile race - 1:21:32
So what could possibly go wrong when I wasn't even competing? Well, for starters a curbstone had craftily twisted itself 45º so that it's upward edge formed a nice point that crunched into the nick of my posterior when I tripped and crashed down on it. To complicate matters, a little bit, my Rt knee hit the ground with an almighty crack - the same knee I twisted in a rabbit hole 12 days before.
Fortunately, this happened towards the end of the day, ages after Alan Buckley had stormed home in the 10 mile road race in a fairly creditable 55.26, long after the keen as mustard kids had swarmed to the base of Burnsall fell and come hurtling back like miniature maniacs (all of whom ensure us that fell racing has a very healthy future) and just before local lad Ted Mason came scorching home in the rain to score his first ever win in the Classic Fell race. I limped back to the car to be driven home for more Voltarol, more Paracetamol, more Arnica.
On Sunday with the old adage in mind that attack is the best form of defence, I dragged my protesting body onto Grassington Moor, supposedly to get some good shots of the heather at it's wonderful purple best. Guess what? The sun went in. I wandered around for ages waiting for breaks in the cloud but eventually gave up and set off home. Back down in the ghyll the sun sneaked out again - "Yoo-hoo!" - so I retraced my steps, only to find the battery in my camera had given up the ghost. Definitely not my day - again!
|Leaders at the start of the Classic Fell race
Monday dawned clear, sunny, warm and very inviting. The umpteen grams of pain-killer, lashings of Arnica and yet more anti-inflammatories appeared to have done their job so nothing wrong with a gentle jog down the riverbank, I thought. After ½ mile I parted company with my wonderful partner, on the premise she might be going a bit too far, or a bit too fast, and struck off in the opposite direction towards the stepping stones by Linton Church. Feeling rather fresh after a couple of miles I reckoned it might not be a bad idea to do a few wind sprints, maybe ten times 75m at a fairly fast lick with a walk recovery. I was enjoying them so much I somehow lost count. On the final one, which turned out to be number fifteen, and which I'd decided to do 'really' fast, there was a sharp pain at the back of my Rt thigh. You've guessed it. My perishing hamstring had thrown a wobbly and yelled 'Stop'. According to my Garmin that last intense burst measured 3.36 min/mile pace on the Richter scale which I was rather proud of! But I limped home a bit disconsolate, back to the pain-killers, the anti-inflammatories, the bag of frozen peas, the Arnica - and a tearful partner who can't bear to see me injured or hurt. You'd think she'd be used to it after twenty years!
|Local lad makes good. Ted Mason of Appletreewick
storms home alone for his first ever win in this Classic Fell race
However, all these annoying little setbacks of mine were well and truly put into perspective when we learned of the drama that unfolded after we'd left Burnsall on Saturday. We'd watched in total admiration, not to mention a furtive tear, as a 62 year old totally blind man crossed the finish line with a broad smile, along with his 'guide', to complete the 10 mile road race in 1:34:28. A magnificent achievement. The applause was tremendous. Imagine my surprise when this very same person ran past me, with that self-same smile on his face, to begin his ascent of Burnsall Fell in the Classic race. I couldn't possibly comprehend how a totally blind person could negotiate thick heather, hidden boulders and high walls in the slippery conditions of the deteriorating weather. Two days later we heard the sad news that he hadn't in fact made it. It was rumoured he'd suffered a massive heart attack on the way up and died almost instantly. His name was Mike Ogle a member of Chorley Harriers and his 'guide' was Jackie Redmayne who is understandably devastated by his death. Both of them had looked so happy setting off up the fell.
I'd like to think he died with that same big smile, doing what he enjoyed doing most, running the wild and lonely places, a free spirit who refused to give in to failed faculties but got out there and still endeavoured to live life to the full. Rest in Peace Mike. You were a credit to humankind and an inspiration to us all.