Okay I was a tad worried driving to Haworth at six in the morning on Saturday. I was about to run a 32 mile ultra distance fell race having only just recovered from man flu (aka bubonic plague). On top of that I had not run in a long distance event since last April’s Fellsman and hadn’t run in any kind of race at all since last June!
Hester had been due to run this too but had unfortunately caught my ‘bubonic plague’ and was not fit for duty on the day. It was Hester’s birthday too and she had to spend it all on her own…. with her terrible cold…. that she got from me….. while I was out galavanting. But hey at least I had fun 😉
The Haworth Hobble is a brilliant race, organised by Keighley and Craven AC, that does the moors of Bronte Country good and proper and was (in theory) perfect as an event for my long overdue comeback . All the same I was, and at the same time wasn’t, looking forward to it one little bit :-).
The route of the Hobble leaves Haworth along the Bronte Way before hacking over Top Withens (with its farm house ruin supposedly the inspiration for Wuthering Heights). It then descends to the Walshaw Dean reservoirs, goes along to Widdup reservoir and then over the tops before eventually descending into Todmorden. (Can I say here and now the tracks and trails in the last few miles leading up to Todmorden were incredibly and magnificently muddy!).Then it was up a steep climb to Mankinholes and then another steep chug to the top of Stoodley Pike before dropping down to Hebden Bridge. A climb then to Heptonstall followed by a wooded descent down to New Bridge and then a long, never ending, seemingly all slightly uphill 7 mile trog from there back to Haworth.
As races go it sure has a tough back end!
As it turns out I ran the first 18.5 miles to Todmorden really quite well at a steady 6 miles per hour pace, getting there after just over 3 hours of running, and the climb up to the top of Stoodley Pike went okays too, but after that my run began to go tits up in quite a dramatic way, with what seemed like every other runner in the race then proceeding to overtake me. Well it wasn’t quite that bad – I finished 160th out of 310 finishers – but it didn’t feel like that at the time.
My legs felt okay ironically but I was all round very weary for the last 11 or 12 miles. I’d somehow lost all of my energy and I struggled to maintain much of a pace, especially in the last 7 miles. I don’t think I got my food intake quite right but my lack of racing, my recent bubonic plague and the fact that I spend an awful lot of the time when out running with the dogs stopping and taking photos probably all contributed to my difficulties on the day.
Anyway I trogged into Haworth eventually and finished with a time of 6 hours 23 minutes. At the time I was a bit disappointed with that but, having thought about it subsequently, I’m now feeling a bit better about it all. I recovered really quickly and as comeback races go it was a grand ‘try out’. And, yep, it sure found me out, chewed me up and spat me out but it was a positive stepping stone towards better things to come…… touch wood!