Haworth Hobble 2019 – updated 14 March

The first Runfurther race of 2019 was run on Saturday – the brilliant Haworth Hobble, run this year in some horrible conditions.  There were 340 finishers, and Rory Harris came in first in 4:22:59.  Nick Treitl and Ian Livesey running together finished just 62 seconds behind Rory.  The next three finishers were all past or present male Runfurther champions: Ken Sutor, Ian Symington and Kevin Hoult.  Looks like Rory may have put his marker down for this year’s championship!

First woman home was Lorraine Slater in 5:05:05, second was Ruth Thackray in 5:13:19, and third was Carol Morgan in 5:21:52.  The full results are up on the fellraces.net website, and should be on the race website soon.  I’ve converted the times into Runfurther points, and you can find them on our results page.

Nick Ham’s photos are up on his Flickr site, and I’ve borrowed some to use here as usual.  Nick’s also written a race report, and you can read this below, including details of his falls and injuries.  Thanks Nick!

Next race is the Lakes 42 on the 30th!  It’s now full with a waiting list.  There are still places for the Calderdale Hike on 13 April though – only £20 so get your entry in if you haven’t already.

Nick Ham’s Race Report

A dire forecast had predicted heavy rain/sleet/snow from 06:00 but it should pass through to the east by midday. However, when I arrived in Haworth at 06:45 it was bright with no hint of the onslaught as the 08:00 start grew closer. Perhaps the forecast had been unduly pessimistic and the worst of it had passed us by.

I learned from Dick that the pre-entry list contained 50 runners who were registered with Runfurther – plenty to choose from for the spot prize lucky draw (the list of lucky winners was on the Runfurther display board as usual, with the prizes to choose on a first-come-first-served basis). That was mighty impressive. I wonder if it’s a record? There could have been even more Runfurther runners if the race hadn’t filled up early. The Haworth Hobble gets ever more popular as each year passes.

As the 08:00 start approached, we were asked to go to the start outside the Golden Fleece. I had my windproof top on to keep the worst of the chill at bay, then I noticed the light levels had dropped ominously. The rain was starting. Perhaps we hadn’t missed it after all. I already had my waterproof trousers on but I decided to swap the windproof for the proper waterproof.

By the time we set off up the cobbled hill I was wrapped from head to toe, zipped up to the gunnels, hood up and peaked cap to keep the worst of the rain off the glasses. We emerged from Haworth into a head-on gale with rain driving in. Whereas in the past I would have run to Bronte Bridge, it was as much as I could do to walk/shuffle my way there. By the time I climbed to the stile above the bridge, the familiar long queue had gone with the passing through of the mid-pack crush. I felt as though I was bringing up the rear.

The rain came and went on the buffeted trudge to checkpoint 1 at Widdop Reservoir, much of which I walked. I soon realised that I’d made a grave error of judgement with my shoe choice. I should have worn my Inov-8 fell shoes, not the Hokas, which were death traps on the sloppy mud.

As I crossed the dam after CP1 while scoffing two biscuits, I heard and saw the waves battering the other side and I saw massive clouds of spray soaking the runners in front. By pure fluke I managed to avoid a soaking, but I had to turn around and lean backwards into the hurricane around the corner at the far end, hand on head to prevent my hood getting ripped off and cap torn away.

Once back out onto the top over Hameldon, the precipitation returned, but this time in the form of hail. My legs burned with each wave as they got shot-blasted through my waterproof trousers. (I would discover many hours later, after finishing, the blotchy evidence of the shot-blast damage on my quads.) As I was descending towards Shedden Clough, my death-trap shoes found a perfectly lubricated patch of slop. My feet moved to the left and I was propelled to the right. I just about remained upright while trying to regain control. However, with no grip, that proved impossible. Staggering backwards and sideways, I could only gain speed as I found myself propelled down the grassy bank on the right of the track. I sped up out of control to crash into a wall in front, next to a bloke having a pee. I bruised my hands and fingers and bashed my head. Fortunately, the peak of my cap prevented direct skin-to-stone contact. For a good while afterwards, probably concussed, I was feeling decidedly sorry for myself with a strange head/eye ache.

I felt slow and drained by the next checkpoint at Long Causeway, but at least we would be turning a little away from the wind and the worst of the rain would be behind us. Two more biscuits would fuel me until the hot dog stand at Stoney Lane. Although the sun was now shining, the previous onslaught had caused a runner to seek shelter in a marshal’s van to get changed/warmed up. I wasted little time here and set off walking down the track getting tomato ketchup all over. Then a runner overtook me and offered the remains of her cheese pasty. Mmm, don’t mind if I do. I’m sure it’ll do me a power of good for later.

On the long descent towards Todmorden, my death traps found another patch of slop, only this time, both feet shot out in front and I landed on my back with considerable violence to slide on for a yard or two. I saw stars and the air turned blue. Very blue. I’d had enough of this carry-on. Luckily, the kit in my Ultimate Direction ‘Wasp’ had cushioned my fall.

There was no snifter left and there were no donuts by the time I reached Mankinholes, so I made do with two more biscuits to urge me up the hill to Stoodley Pike. Bring on another painfully slow, gutless trudge. Jamie Glazebrook had already overtaken me and it wouldn’t be long before Ken and Jenny Wyles would do the same on the descent to Hebden Bridge. The climb up the other side to Heptonstall was slow and warming, especially now that the wind had dropped and the sun was out. I had started on the Mountain Fuel Sports Jellies (Lemon & Lime and now Cola with caffeine – I have to say they taste very good) and I almost felt as though I was beginning to pick up for the first time since the race started. The headache had gone as well.

The final two biscuits were grabbed at New Bridge for the walk-shuffle-run over the top to the final checkpoint with 4.5 miles to go to the finish. No stopping here, just another Cola-caffeine Jelly to keep the fire burning to Top o’ th’ Stairs and down the other side. I was able to run again, in chase and overtake mode for the first time. It felt so good. Earlier in the day I had been resigned to yet another PW (even worse than last year’s debacle), but after running all the way from Top o’ th’ Stairs over Penistone Hill to the finish, I realised I’d pulled it back to 7:26 – 36 minutes faster than last year, and I felt surprisingly good on it.

The real test of fitness will be in three weeks’ time – Lakes Mountain 42 on 30th March. All pray for nice weather.