Thursday, 7 August 2014

Cracken Edge Fell Race 2014

Kinder in the evening light
Well this is a little beastie. I originally ran it in 2011, way back when apparently I didn't write up EVERY single race that I ran. Probably because I had no real idea of what was going on. So from this 2 year
enforced hiatus (volunteering at the olympics and then being in Switzerland this time last year), I have made my way back to the race. Last time I was beaten by John Hewitt. This time he isn't here, but I intend to go faster than the time he put down those years ago.

Cracken Edge is put on by Kinder Mountain Rescue Team, it is also meant to be the annual Peak District Mountain Rescue team race- where the team with the top 3 places get the much acclaimed Buzz Lightyear trophy. I helped win it in 2011, and last year Woodhead apparently came over en masse and got the honours. We few runners at Glossop MRT decided that it was time to have it back in our base. 

What a race.
What a horror show.
It's basically 10.5km of horrendously runnable terrain, with a couple of ups and downs. It is oh so nearly a trail race, but not quite.
Owing to the glorious nature of the evening, the race organisers deigned to let us run with no additional kit, so bumbags cast off, we warmed up around the beginning hill- chatting with other racers and trying to find something to blame for our impeding terrible performance.
The inevitable short speech from the organisers and with the toot of a horn we surged.

The opening slope of the race nigh-on defies description. Yes, ok, it is steep. It is concrete, and it is slippery. It also goes on for a flipping long time, and when you're at the front of a race, you really want to get it over and done with as soon as possible - but without completely destroying yourself for the rest of the 10km of the race. So we hoon up this steep, narrow, slippery concrete hill that twists right, and continues up for far
Coming out on a flat bit from the climb
longer than seems possible, jockeying for places, and somehow, I pop out at the top of the first part in somewhere around 6th place. Good? Not Good? Considering how far we still have to go, I'm fairly sure I won't hold onto this.
Ahead of me, the leaders are messing around with gates, and generally amusing themselves with a bit of route finding across a field - which gate exactly do we go through to get onto the right path? kind of thing, and we bustle through in series, and at this point, still on the first uphill section, I am still within touching distance of the leaders.

Up past the TV mast, and Stevie K is level with me, drawing past, and then down across the slightly marshy ground to the one major stile in the race and we both pass another runner, and get passed in turn by someone else. By the time we head over the stile, the start of the race is beginning to tell on me, and I feel myself lagging a bit, and by the time we hit the bridleway, Steve is pulling away, and 2 other Penniners are hot on my heels- Chris Leigh and Wardy. My lungs are beginning to burn, legs not entirely doing what they're meant to be doing... This is beginning to get tough.
 Up to the quarterway point, where the route joins itself to form the figure 8 (even if we don't exactly follow the way you draw it), and Chris works his way past me, muttering encouragement as he goes. My mind wants to go with him, my body resists and starts complaining, so I continue, with Wardy breathing down my neck.
Train of runners toward the tv mast
A sharp right and the first major downhill of the day. Stevie is a way ahead now, and Chris is picking up speed, its all I can do to keep it together now, as I head down the path toward the road, and the steep downhill to the halfway point, stretching out to try and get some distance between me and the shadow behind. I can hear other feet slapping against the tarmac as we zoom down the road - more people coming to get me, not a good thing with this amusing ascent coming up.

I get through the stile at the bottom of the road first, with some time to spare before the next person, but soon enough, as I'm suffering up the hill, there are 2 others behind me, who have the temerity to be chatting to one another as they climb. I mean... really! I couldn't speak if I wanted to right now, and as we go up Cracken Edge itself, along, up, along, up, along, up, along, up, and so on toward the quarries, I am passed by a succession of people.
A thought crosses my addled mind. I really need to get better at these second climbs... I did alright on the first one. Mid-race climbs. Need to get better.

As we come out before BigStone Wardy comes past and blasts his way to the top, breathing like a fighter jet, overtaking the 2 guys in front of me. I top out on wobbly legs, barely able to walk, let alone run, and they're already disappearing into the distance.
Keep it together. Keep running.
in toward the finish
Down through the grass, and the path to the crossing point, and I go through there, my 3/4 point before the slowest runners have got to it as their 1/4. Now along the Trog finale, I can hear breathing behind me, and there is still a good 2.5km to go. Down the hill, I try to keep distance away from the breathing, but as we come toward the bottom, the technical part, I feel a slight pull, the familiar twinge of a stitch, and so my pace slows, just a little, but enough, and at the bottom of the woods, I get rushed by 2 more runners.

The final km is through a sloping field or 2, through long grass, and I can see 4 people in front of me, tantalizingly close, within 30 seconds of me. But that is 30 seconds if they stop and I go as hard as I can. No way to catch them, I can hear another person, not far behind, and I'm not losing ANOTHER place.
Last field, turn right and hammer down a lush green meadow, ignoring the fact that I might not necessarily be able to stop at the bottom, I just go for it, apparently recording a quite astonishing 25kmph in the last 20 metres.

All I need to do it keep that up ALL the way around. That might work.
My watch reads 47:30- which would have beaten John Hewitt in 2011. It would have beaten Stevie K AND Wardy as well, but not this year. 5 Pennine vests in front of me, and I was 14th overall.
It looks like I might need to have a look at what I was doing back in April and May when I was beating
them, as whatever it was, I'm not doing it now.

Train. Race. Assess. Evolve.
Chewing the fat at the end of the race.

As for the Mountain rescue cup. I don't know what happened to that as it wasn't presented, or even
mentioned at prizegiving. As far as I can tell, with Me, Alasdair and Jules pretty much in the top 30, I can't imagine that we didn't win it. However, no mention was made, so who knows?

1 comment:

  1. Glossop MRT won the mountain rescue cup by a long way - far ahead of the competition. Official results will be posted on the Hayfield Fell Race Championship web site in the next few days.
    Regards, Kinder MRT.