It must be a couple of years back when my wonderful partner and I came to an agreement that from thenceforth we were never going to race again over distances longer than 10K. At our time of life, we opined, any distance above that would be counter-productive to our health and fitness. Indeed, we thought it best to maybe abandon the idea of racing altogether and stick to low key Park Runs where there'd be no pressure to 'win' and no danger of over exerting ourselves. So what the heck were we doing last Saturday lining up for a 12 mile race on a cold and cloudy day through some of the best bogs in Britain?
|The 12 mile Troller's Trot route.....(Click to enlarge)
Well, enjoying ourselves as things turned out. I'm not sure what strategies my better half had in mind but I was determined not to push things to the extent it would hurt, just let it flow nice and easy, maintaining a comfortable rhythm while keeping my breathing under control. Apart from slowing to walk a couple of hills, and putting my foot on the gas pedal when in danger of being passed on the final stretch, I largely kept to my game plan. So I was rather surprised to find I was only 5 minutes slower than on a previous occasion, three years ago, when I was actually 'racing' it.
With over 400 walkers and runners taking part, car parking around Threshfield school had become something of a problem by the time we arrived, rather later than planned, and the long colourful crocodile queueing for race numbers left us little time to strip for action or visit the loo - the latter being a rather urgent necessity. Having only registered at the last minute we were surprised to find that race numbers had all been overprinted with our name and age category, something we could only remember happening once before in a World Masters Mountain Running Championship. 12 mile runners had red numbers while 25 mile runners had black numbers. It was all brilliantly organised by Paul Shack and his incredible team.
|My three pacemakers pioneering the way across the bogs.......
At a little after 9am we were off, nearly 350 runners the vast majority of which were in the 25 mile race. We would run together for the first 6½ miles to the checkpoint at Rylstone Church where the long distane runners would start their climb onto Barden Moor. Thankfully, for us running the shorter 12 mile route, all the serious climbing would be over except for a final little sting in the tail just before the finish. As befits a mature gentleman I'd taken a place near the rear of the field where I soon latched on to three Ripon Runners pacing themselves nicely for the full 25 miles and travelling at the same pace as me. They were rather expert at dodging the black, glutinous bogs and I was equally expert at following them - though they somehow managed to keep their legs cleaner than mine.
|Same three on slightly drier ground towards Winterburn reservoir
Threshfield Moor was alive with golden plovers, so much so I first thought their multiple pipings was someone's mobile phone ringing, or some HGV reversing. Curlews were warbling away too and a skylark joined the choir at one stage to give a heart-lifting solo performance. They cheered us on our way across the worst of the bogs until Winterburn reservoir came into view, then some easier running down to the village of Hetton where cyclists became the main hazzard, flashing past at great speed on the short stretch of road to Rylstone. They frighten me, mainly I think because I tend to run with my head down, watching my feet, and don't always see them coming, especially at that speed! Maybe they were in some sort of race too. Or they'd been taking something.....
|Linton Falls at the 'Tin bridge'
|All smiles.......2nd L65 and 1st M80
|...and a certificate to register the achievement
Full 12 mile race results here.