Monday, 12 March 2012

Wuthering Hike (Haworth Hobble) - 10th March 2012

Just for a change Lotte and I thought we would put together a joint race report
for the Haworth Hobble. Hopefully it should offer our dual perspective and hopefully make for a nice change.

Short Report - 6.01.29, 10th Mixed Pair (26 total), 119 overall (297 total)

Stats - 32miles, 4,400ft ascent (1,340m)

The Route
Pre-race and start

Andy: Unusually, Lotte arose before I did. We had kindly been put up at Ali and
Emma’s in Hebden bridge, but since Emma had taken Ali off for some more
(undoubtedly hilly) training for her attempt at the Fred Whitton, they had
left us the keys. After a long week at uni, and a long drive, I tried to convince
Lotte of the merits of the ‘John Griffin approach’. It’s a complex method, but
fundamentally involves consuming a bottle of red wine the night before a race.

Anyway, we got up around 5.45am, fed the cats, and the fish (house sitting comes
with great responsibility) and set about breakfast. Coffee with coconut oil, a
berry smoothie and stewed apple with reflex natural whey protein powder
stirred in (yum?)

Those aren't pillows, they are cats!
As we drove over to the race start in Haworth (about 8 miles) the weather did
not look promising. At the top of the hills, there was a thick cloud, it was raining,
and there was driving wind; saw a couple of wind turbines that looked as though
they were about to take off. With a relatively low volume of running, I had that
nagging feeling in the back of my head, “do I REALLY need to do this?”

Having registered and eaten some almond slice, we walked over to the start,
down a steep hill, which as Lotte correctly predicted, we were about to run
straight back up….

The walk down to the start

Lotte: I spent the night acting as a bean bag for the cats whilst Andy slept
soundly beside me. Despite my attempts to deposit the cats onto his side of the
bed they seemed to prefer my company. So I gave in and tried to let the purring
(from the cats, not Andy) lull me back to sleep. It didn’t work. After a cuppa and
some porridge we drove over to the race in miserable weather. Visibility was
pretty bad and I was reluctant to get out of the car on arrival. However, just as
we were walking to registration, the rain stopped and patches of blue appeared.
Our spirits were raised. Little did we know how short lived that would be……...

First 15 miles

Andy: Well what can I say? I didn’t see much. The weather hadn’t much
improved since our drive over, and for considerable sections of this part of the
run, it was worse. The only thing you could really hold on to was the fact that
the run was a loop, and therefore eventually, that would mean we wouldn’t be
running into a headwind. Of course, the wind could change direction with us
and by the way the day had gone so far, that would not have surprised me. I
was settling in for a long day. There was however a long downhill very runnable
section (even with the wind behind us, almost) which I very much enjoyed,
so I can’t say it was all bad. We were however mostly in cloud, which meant
that I didn’t see much more than just a grass verge for a good couple of hours,
which got quite boring. I guess its just lucky the weather wasn’t like this way back
when, or no-one would ever have found Wuthering Heights. We had soon
realised we should stay close to ‘the locals’, with no map of our own, we would
not have stood a chance on the navigation front.

A nice bit of running early on...

Lotte: Yorkshire people are a hardy bunch. Not a piece of Kenesio tape nor
compression sock in sight. Just tough folk with nothing more than a pair of Mo
Farah shorts and a vest sprinting off up the first hill as if the headwind didn’t
exist. We southerners were definitely in a different league to this lot. I felt
incredibly slow, even though our pace was decent and my heart rate was up. I
spent a lot of this first section tucked in behind Andy trying to get some shelter
from the relentless wind. As Andy enjoyed the long downhill section he asked if I
was alright as I was rather quiet. I told him I was bored. Bored of seeing nothing
but his back, there were no views to see (even though a couple of locals assured
us the views were amazing) thanks to the cloud we were running through.
Bored and fed up at 9 miles in. This was going to be a looooong day. The couple
of biscuits from mile 7 check point were wearing off and I had the hump that
the only food there was some broken biscuits. Not what I would call substantial
for a 32 mile run into the wind with 4,400ft of elevation. My 3 gels and 3 Mrs
Crimble macaroons would be gone before half way at this rate. However, as
we passed our 3 or 4th or possibly even 5th reservoir (hard to tell after a while)
and came upon checkpoint 2 @ mile 15 my spirits soared as my eyes beheld
hot cross buns, jam doughnuts, hotdogs, squash, biscuits and sweets. YEY!!!
FOOOOOOOOOOOD!! Even though Andy made me run and eat I don’t think I
have ever enjoyed a doughnut more.

Stoodley Pike revisited

Andy: Having sustained myself on 3 gels and handful of biscuits for the first
13 miles, at the 2nd aid station, I refilled my water and grabbed roughly the
equivalent of a whole packet of biscuits, more out of boredom and for something
to do (eat loads of biscuits) than anything else. With no views, the running had
been a little dull. Unusually, however, there was another checkpoint just 2 miles
down the route. More because I couldn’t resist myself, I then had a hot dog and
a hot cross bun – soon, my spirits were beginning to lift, and with it, the cloud

The ascent before the the climb up to Stoodley Pike

We trudged on, following ‘the locals’ through Todmorden, and lots of turns,
lucky not to get lost. Soon enough however, the climbing began to start proper.
Just before the ascent up to Stoodley Pike there was yet another aid station at
around 20 miles. I was almost beside myself with joy having had a jam doughnut,
some biscuits, and another hot cross bun when I realised there was a man giving
out drams of whisky. A Jura 10 years single malt – nothing special, but hey, it
was free. I’ve never tried alcohol in a race before and I think I’d try it again. It
certainly gave me that inner warmth for the climb up to the pike. We yet again
followed a ‘local’ for the fastest route. As it turned out this guy had come third
in this race 10 years previously in 4.26 – not too shabby. Even if he was a little
slower now, he wasn’t going to be wasting his time with anything but the fastest
route. We made some good time up to the pike and then back down into Hebden
Bridge. When Lotte and I had visited Ali and Emma before IMUK last year, we
had actually run out and back to Stoodley Pike from their house, so this was now
a familiar route!

Stoodley Pike about to disappear into the clouds

Lotte: On a sugar high we strode off enjoying the fact that we were almost half
way and the fog had gone. It was still windy in places, and very muddy. Anyone
who knows me knows how I feel about mud and like a proper girl, I picked my
way as delicately as possible around the worst of it but still ended up submerged
up to my ankles in black mud (and I think a not insubstantial amount of cow
poo). A local man had told us that the first 20 miles were runnable, then it got
hard. Erm…..what? THEN it got hard?!! See? Yorkshire folk. Hardcore. I tried
to convince myself that he had got it wrong, despite this being his 6th race but
had to face reality as we came upon Stoodley pike. Andy had been chatting to
a guy that looked like a pirate and I was a few paces behind when I saw Long
John Silver, Andy and a handful of others leave the path the other runners had
taken and go directly vertically up towards the top. I followed suit and gasped
my way up along side a woman who was actually on her hands and feet crawling
her way up. Steep was not the word. But it was quicker and became quicker still
when Andy got behind me and told me to “hurry up” because he was getting cold.
Yeah, next time Andy, a push up the hill would have been more conducive……..
We reached the top and the cloud again. The wind was howling up there and we
saw some people heading straight on in the distance. We couldn’t see anyone
else and as we’d been up here before and taken the left hand way down into
Hebden Bridge we stopped to wait for someone who did know. Luckily LJS knew
and we were soon running down a lovely gentle descent towards Hebden Bridge
and actually passed Emma and Ali’s house where we were staying. Had I had the
house key on me at that point…

Hebden bridge and beyond

Andy: As we dropped down into Hebden Bridge (past the end of Ali and Emmas
road!) it was hard to convince Lotte to carry on.  I too found it difficult to convince her it would be easy going having seen a sign warning us of giant toads ahead! (Luckily Lotte didn't see this sign, or I think the day may have ended somewhat differently)


The climb over to Haworth turned out to be a long, hard, steady and uneven slog for more or less 6 more miles.  The final two miles were however downhill, but by now, it was just about getting
it done. Even though the weather had improved, my conditioning was making
itself apparent. My right hip flexor was quite sore and I too was as glad as Lotte
to finish in just over 6 hours.

We didn’t hang around for food, and headed straight back for a shower and a
stretch before getting a pork belly in the oven for a good 3.5hours. Down the pub
for a pint, then back for dinner. All in all, a good day!

Lotte: After the Everest-esque expedition up to Stoodley Pike we of course had
to drop down into the town of Hebden Bridge. By now the downhills were
harder than the ups and I actually had to lean on Andy to make running the long
descent to the town bearable. I even fell over on one of the steeper sections.
The third doughnut high had long gone and I was tired. The sun was now out
and it was hot. Of course because we had dropped back to sea level, we had to
climb back up into the clouds. This was a long long hill which was only made

better by a local man in his doorway offering sweets and juice. Normally my
upbringing would have kept me away from a stranger trying to lure me into his
house with sweets but by this point I didn’t care. The going was tough, the
ground uneven. Andys game for the day was run for 10 mins then we can
reward ourselves with a walk and some food. This seemed to work as before we
knew it a couple more miles had ticked by and we were at marathon distance in
a time of 5:03. Only 10k to go. Only another hour of running…………………. Our
walking time was over on an uphill section that everyone else was walking so as
we were running again now we passed a fair few people here. 2 mixed teams
which pleased Andy (I was way beyond caring where we finished, just as long as
we did soon) and a handful of people we’d be too-ing and fro-ing with. But as
soon as we hit the descent, they more or less all came by us again. This is by far
my weakness and I need to learn how to descend properly, even when tired. At
the bottom of this downhill section was, yup, another up. We walked this and
worked out we had about 2 miles to go. We walked mainly because everyone
else was. In fact, we should have run it as we were so close to the end. But as
soon as we got off that section of road and onto the dirt track we started to wind
it up. I told Andy to pick it up a gear and we started taking some places back.
Unsurprisingly, I loved this section, down hill and a mile from the end. A wiggly
path past a church and we popped out a few hundred meters from the school. A
lovely sunny afternoon and a good cheer from the supporters and we were finished.

Waiting for dinner...
This was a really good value for money race. £10 each and cake at the start,
food galore on 3 of the checkpoints and a hot meal and more cake at the finish.
A tough but rewarding course (well it would have been if we’d have been able
to see the views!) and a better understanding of why they call it the Haworth