Well, since I wasn’t there this year, Karen Nash has written most of this report – I’ve just done a bit of editing here and there. The race results are here, and the Runfurther leaderboard is here. Nick Ham’s photos are here, and the ones on this page are Nick’s too. Nick’s written up his blog too, and you can find that here. SportSunday were there as well, and you can find their photos here. So, over to Karen…
It was a full race this year with no entry on the day, possibly a first for the Hobble. This was partly due to the race being used as the British Trial for IAU World Trail Championships. This meant there were many new faces and names in the results that some of us did not recognise.
The field was superb this year. I think 6 men broke the record and 8 finished in under 4 hours. Tom Payn of Mercia won in 3:54:18 and then Gareth Hughes, Matt Roberts and Kyle Greig all in 3:55. The first Runfurther runners were Ken Sutor in 4:12 and Kevin Hoult in 4:16. First woman was Julie Briscoe in 4:31 and then Sally Fawcett 4:38 and Katie Kaars Sijpestaijn 4:39. (I am not sure if the female record was broken but think it was). It was a great start to the Runfurther season and a few new members joined up too.
As usual for me the day started early. Having slept in the van on site we were up at 6am putting up flags and banners before moving inside and putting up display boards and giving Brett the Romneys Mint Cake to hand out at registration. It was dry and mild so things were looking good. The bumper entry meant we were a little late starting and the crush of runners meant many were not herded back downhill to the start line at the Fleece. I had chatted to some of the ‘elite’ before the start and that would be the last I saw of them, except in the distance as we climbed to Withins ruin.
I was determined not to race too hard and to practice a sensible pace for the long race I have in May. It didn’t work. Despite my efforts the first couple of hours showed 6mph+ pace. Oops. It felt fine at the time but I paid for it later. I had also opted for grip not cushioning in anticipation of mud. Again, it did not work out. I would have been better with more cushioning.
The first miles to Bronte Bridge passed very quickly and I was surprised to queue less than usual at the first gate. By Withins we were quite spread out and although I lost places being a softie on the flagstone descent I felt fine. By Widdop I knew I was pushing too hard and backed off a bit – after running to look good for the SportSunday cameras that is. Before Long Causeway my glute was troubling me and I was cursing my early pace and the hard sprinting of Wednesday night. My pace dropped here and I let those I was running with move ahead. The CP at Stoney Lane was a welcome sight and I grabbed a hot dog and a piece of pork pie. It must have helped because I ran on a bit refreshed to Todmorden (or was it just that it was mainly downhill?). A shock awaited me at Mankinholes as there were no doughnuts! I took a cheese and onion pie instead. The climb up to Stoodley Pike was as tough as always.
The dry weather meant there was quite a crowd at the top ready to cheer runners on. I had eaten plenty but by the time I reached the woods I was suffering. My glute was very sore and now my foot was complaining too. Ironically the climb to Heptonstall didn’t seem too bad as the uphill helped my foot and not running much relaxed my glute. My joy didn’t last though, and the climb up Crimsworth Dean was a real low point. I ran much less than usual of this section and the pain in my foot was intense. I hobbled on the best I could but in a very negative frame of mind. At this stage a Personal Worst was a cert and even 6 hours looked a big ask. The last CP and Lane Head means only 4 miles to go. Apologies to those around me at this point who thought they were running with a nutter. A severe talking to myself: Man Up, get on with it, don’t be such a wimp etc etc and I set off up the lane. My Garmin battery had died but near the Top o’ Stair it occurred to me that we had not started at 8am so perhaps if I really tried I could still finish in under 6 hours. So it was run, jog, walk intervals all the way up the lane and over Penistone Hill. Not pretty and a PW by 5 mins but I finished in 5hrs 53. I wasn’t happy with it but hey ho… and then I found that despite all this I was first FV50 so perhaps it wasn’t too bad. After several cups of tea, pasta and stew and a doughnut or two I was feeling better, and just about ready for the Runfurther committee meeting.
Next race: Calderdale Hike on 1 April (seriously…). See you there!