After some delays in returning from Mallorca, due to a French air traffic controller strike (we chose Jet2 whose flights were merely delayed, whilst Ryanair and EasyJet flights were being cancelled), Friday was spent sorting out at home before Ken arrived from Ottawa to join me on the Calderdale Hike.
Entered as runners, we enjoyed the luxury of a 9am start, the walkers having left at 7am for the 37 mile route and 8am for the 26 mile route. All the runners leave together, and we spent the first half of our walk with those doing the 37 mile version. That had more entrants as it is on the ‘Ultra-running’ calendar that is currently quite popular. Here are the runners, amassing at the 9am start, just as the rain stopped.
Ken and I were dressed more appropriately for hiking, though we did do a bit of jogging.
It was a new route this year – full details are on the Calderdale Hike website (note that the route changes, so in time this link will show a different route).
I was fooled at the start, as everyone headed across some playing fields by way of a short cut to Bowood Lane. No doubt it was shorter, but due to the long queue to squeeze through a narrow gap, it was probably slower for those of us at the back. Never mind, it helped everyone to spread out and find their own pace.
There were very few people behind us as Ken and I headed up Rishworth Moor.
As we got higher, a buffeting NW wind ensured that very little running took place, with Ken rather keener than me on that form of perambulation.
We moved relentlessly towards a checkpoint on the Oldham side of the M62 motorway, reached via the Pennine Way footbridge that rather puzzlingly had rather a lot of mud on its convex surface.
After this, Ken forged ahead along the easy slabs of the Pennine Way, towards the summit of Blackstone Edge. By now we were passing many of the walkers who had set off in heavy boots at 7 or 8 o’clock. Ken and I used trail shoes today. My four year old Keen Targhee ll shoes with nearly 2000 km under their soles performed brilliantly and with the aid of some sealskinz socks kept my feet dry and warm.
I tried to find the actual summit of Blackstone Edge, then went to the trig point (pictured at the head of this post, not the true summit), reached via an awkward step.
Ahead of me, Ken fell over near here and hurt his ring finger – eventually requiring a hospital visit when he got back to Ottawa. I caught up with him at White House checkpoint, the sixth of nine checkpoints for the short route, excluding the start and finish point.
We watched those on the long route (the majority) jog off down the hill towards Sladen Fold, and I left Ken munching sandwiches and headed off towards several reservoirs beside which the Pennine Way passes. Here’s the good path beside Head Drain, leading towards several small reservoirs.
Ken soon passed me – “see you at the end”. This is a flat path. It should have been ideal for a little gentle jogging, but unseen in these two images is the strong, buffeting, cold NW wind that led to instant dismissal of any thought of making progress in any other way than walking.
Eventually the Pennine Way turned right and the recommended route turned left. Given that the next checkpoint, Lumbutts Church, was more or less straight ahead, that’s the way I chose despite the paucity of a path.
Across Langfield Common, the ‘path’ was a little tricky to follow, but I soon encountered some runners who told me they’d had a navigational nightmare. I suspect that was true as they were much quicker than me and soon sped off into the distance.
Lumbutts Church is always an excellent support point. I enjoyed a butty and a drink and the obligatory banana and jelly babies here, before setting off along the Pennine Bridleway below Stoodley Pike, which unusually was not on today’s itinerary.
I hadn’t been doing much running, so it was surprising to be passed by quite a few short route runners. It seems they had chosen a more elongated itinerary than mine. This event has no set route – you are simply required to visit all the checkpoints in the correct order.
Here’s a short route runner passing me, and in the distance is Ian Symington, the eventual winner, about to overtake me after he had gone 30 miles as opposed to my 19 miles. Well done Ian, who just carried on running and finished nearly an hour ahead of me. He completed the 37 mile route in about five and a half hours. (The results haven’t yet been published as I compose this report.)
Some time later, three or four miles from the end, Ken caught up with me. Strange, as I thought he was ahead of me. Anyway, he soon dashed off and finished the 26 mile course in 6 hours 19 minutes. I managed a steady jog for the last downhill mile, to come in 3 minutes after him, though if I’d taken it a bit easier I may not have felt stiff for so long afterwards!
All in all, an excellent day out, and thanks for your company, Ken.
Thanks also to all the numerous helpers and marshals who made the event run so smoothly, and to those responsible for the lavish amounts of food at both the checkpoints and the cricket club at the end. Brilliant!
Here’s the 42 km route, with 1300 metres ascent, taking me 6 hours 22 minutes.
(Click for a larger image)