Tuesday 13 March 2012

Troller's Trot

Ready for the off
     The Troller's Trot is organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association, but don't be fooled by that word 'Walkers'.  By far the biggest percentage of entrants are runners. The event is mainly off-road over some wild, rough country and as such attracts some of our top fell runners, both male and female. It's a Challenge, rather than a race, but nevertheless it invokes a keen spirit of competition among participants who either want to better last years time or beat familiar rivals.  Walkers can set off as soon as they've collected their tally cards at 7.30am and are well on their way by the time runners line up for a mass start at 9am.
    It was drizzling with rain as I left the dining hall in Threshfield School at 8.55am, fortified with an extra jam butty and two cups of well sugared tea. Thick mist shrouded the hills and a sneaky wind was blowing from the south west. I pulled on a baseball cap to shield my specs and donned a lightweight jacket. I made the mistake of lingering at the start, taking photographs of other runners, quite forgetting the various spots where hold-ups would occur along the way. After climbing high into the mist and dancing across the oozing black bogs of Threshfield Moor the worst snarl-up came at the first checkpoint where I found myself queueing for seven whole minutes to clip my tally card.
Route map
    Of the 400 or so entries for the 20th anniversary of this event, only about fifty were entered for the 12 mile half Trot and I'd no idea how many of them were runners. I suspected most of them, as in the full 24 mile Trot, and had a sneaking suspicion all would now be ahead of me after that checkpoint fiasco.  The next four miles were mainly downhill and easier running so I'd time to get some sort of rhythm going while ticking off as many runners as I possibly could. The mist had lifted, sunshine shafted through the clouds, curlews called and larks were singing as we ran to the 2nd checkpoint near Winterburn reservoir. In just over two miles our routes would split, the 24 milers to the right and the 12 milers to the left. That's where my race would begin. I made good progress though I was flagging a bit on a mile or so of tarmac to the 3rd checkpoint at Rylstone Church.
Disappearing into the mist on Threshfield Moor
    Although the route had otherwise been well marked there was no sign to point the way of the shorter route from the Church and I finished up getting hopelessly lost in a sprawling farmyard where cows eyed me curiously as I ran hither and thither, frantically trying to find a way out. To make things worse a brief glimpse along the lane I should be running along, but couldn't get to, revealed a runner disappearing into the distance. And who knows how many were ahead of him? I retraced my steps, climbed through a gap in the wall and tore down a short grassy slope onto the lane. I was back on route.  
Running over Boss Moor
    Things were getting serious now. I rolled up my jacket and tied it round my waist, replaced my cap with a headband and rolled up my sleeves ready for action. That guy who'd long since disappeared into the distance just had to be caught in the next five miles before the finish. After a series of zig-zags through the back lanes of Cracoe the route came out onto a long straight bit where it was possible to see quite a way ahead. There was no sign of the runner. The next section was a twisting roller-coaster of a lane with little chance of seeing any distance ahead but, after a couple of miles, just past Far Langerton, the guy suddenly appeared about 300m in front of me. In a mile I'd caught him, quite by surprise as he slowed to take a drink.
    "Come on" I shouted in mock encouragement as I slid past.
    "I needed that drink, I'll be with you in a minute" he replied.
   "Oh no, you jolly well wont" I muttered to myself. I was on home ground now. My old legs found new life over the last two miles down steep fields, back along the familiar riverbank, across Grassington Bridge and up the hill to the deserted finish area outside the school. I was the first runner home. A couple of minutes later the second runner arrived, offering his congratulations, and after that a steady trickle of runners including my wonderful partner alongside the lady who'd inspired us to enter and train for this cracking day out.
    As we regrouped in the dining hall for an excellent post-race meal and more reviving cups of tea we couldn't help but sing the praises of all concerned with the brilliant organisation of this wonderful event. All being well, we'll be back next year when hopefully they'll have signposted the way out of that perishing farmyard!


  1. sounds like a great day out, one for my bucket list, well done and congratulations

  2. Thanks Lena, good to hear from you again. Trust you're as fit as ever and still going from strength to strength.

  3. Looks like a fun race, good thing you found your way out of the cow padock, and then run that guy down.

  4. Awesome race and congrats on first place!

    Getting lost in the middle of a race is one of those bad dreams I have once in awhile. Glad you found your way out in time :))

    My Running Shortz

  5. That looks suspiciously like mud to me. :)

    So- a win then for the half trot? I think you sneaked the "win" part in there. Congrats!

  6. Wow - you won! Well done! We've had a lot of mist here too, and I really don't enjoy running in it. It can be quite spooky!

    1. Liz, it wasn't a race. I just happened to be first home of all those who decided to run it - so not really a 'win'.

  7. congrats!!! beautiful pics and course... You're one tough dude~

  8. God that sounds like a lot of fun - well done!