Monday 15 October 2012

Reasons to run faster...

In my dreams!
Last week was reasonably good, weatherwise, some beautiful frosty mornings  developing into warm sunny days. I took advantage of four of them to clock up a fairly respectable 26 miles, my highest mileage for many a week. For the first couple of runs I discarded my old trail shoes in favour of road shoes to run a five mile circuit I haven't used for years. Living on the 645ft contour most of my town runs start off X-country onto Castle Hill, up to 900ft, before descending back home by devious routes. I couldn't face those uphill starts through muddy fields last week so opted for a road run that drops 250ft to Low Common in the first mile, giving me time to catch my second wind, before rising steeply for 490ft to the village of Farnley Tyas in the second mile. The next three miles are mainly level and downhill with some glorious views across the valley to distant hills and bleak moorland. But it can be quite frightening at times. Some lunatic drivers obviously imagine themselves to be Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton practicing for their next Grand Prix. The roads are narrow, some of the bends are littered with debris from crashed cars and the fastest section has no footpath. I tend to run faster past these blackspots in order to be out of danger that little bit quicker.
Approaching Mossdale on Saturday with Great Whernside in sunshine
At the weekend I was looking forward to getting back to the sanctuary of hills above Hebden, but there were a couple of dicey moments there too. On Saturday morning my wonderful partner accompanied me for the first three miles of a ten mile run around Mossdale. Running up Hebden Ghyll we suddenly noticed a large shooting party spanning the whole of the horizon ahead of us, walking up game towards us and all of them with guns - and dogs.  We kept going, straight through the middle of them, all the while hoping no rabbit, grouse or pheasant would raise its head between us and them. Graciously they stayed low until we'd passed, though guns were blazing away behind us shortly afterwards.
Prime beef on the hoof. Wonder if I could outrun him?
Later, running on my own, I encountered the same great herd of cows and calves that normally graze wild across the wide open Kelber pasture. They never bother me, usually scampering away if I get too close. On this occasion they stood their ground, maybe, I thought, because they've got used to 'that mad runner' tootling past. I veered a little to avoid one munching its way towards me when it struck me this was no cow but a huge Aberdeen Angus bull I hadn't seen for a couple of years, or more. On the last occasion I met him he wouldn't let me pass, running to left and right 20 yards or so ahead of me to block the path.  Luckily I was near to a stile which I was able to climb over and circumnavigate his stomping ground. This time, he raised his head, studied me for half a minute as I sped by with increasing speed, then carried on grazing. Great relief! Although I've worked with farm animals, so don't fear them as much as some people do, it's still a bit of a shock to encounter a strange bull in the middle of a desolate moor a long way from the nearest wall and with nowhere to hide. Moreso when I was wearing my usual bright red running strip! You'll notice, in my picture of him, I didn't go back to the front of that menacing head.
A touch of frost on Sunday morning
On Sunday we awoke to a frosted landscape that had us scuttering around with our cameras to capture the beautiful sights before they melted away in strengthening sun. On a subsequent run to Appletreewick in the afternoon I passed our local artist, Rosemary Lodge, with a very evocative painting of Burnsall in all its Autumn glory nestling on her easel. Much as I admire Rosemary's work I didn't stop but continued my six mile tempo run to get home, shower and cool off before Church in the early evening. After all, I'd a lot to be thankful for, divine deliverance from kami-kazi drivers, slaughtering guns and beligerent bulls, amongst other things......  Such things give my Blog title - 'Run for your Life' - a whole new meaning.


  1. Lots to be thankful for indeed! I also had an encounter with a big old bull once. Funny enough, I also wore red for the occasion! In my case, the bull gave me one look and charged - thankfully I made it to the camp fence just in time ;) !

  2. 26 miles in a week is better than respectable - it's impressive! Fast cars are a real danger on country roads, I know. Running on pavements in built up areas is safer, but so much less picturesque.

  3. That's quite a bull story! I have come across angry dogs, but usually the bulls are penned in. Some are downright enormous too. Certainly something to get a person to pick up speed!
    Lovely photo of the frost and leaves. Reminds me on Ansel Adam's stuff, but yours is in color.

  4. I can only tell you about the day I was running a a game park and I rounded a corner and there in front of me was a Giraffe 100m tall...

    Always nice to see wild life!!! Saw a topless lady once that was also very exciting...

  5. Enjoyed the account of your bovine encounters. I often run through cow fields - the inquisitive ones take some getting used to!