Haworth Hobble & Leaderboard Update

2022 leaderboard updates are available here. As always, as this was the 2nd race of the year the leaderboard now only shows anyone who has completed 2 qualifiers.

There were quite a few of us out for the HH, my write up is here. Nick’s photos are linked below, along with his write up of the race:


In the lead-up to this year’s Haworth Hobble I was in two minds whether to take up the new offer of an early start now that SPORTident timing was being used. On the day, having registered in good time and had my pre-race chats with time to spare, my mind was made up. I met Matt Hutchinson as I climbed the school steps. We decided to set off together, which we did at 07:24. I really enjoyed the uncrowded and unpressured walk-jog up to Bronte Bridge through the last-gasp shower of the day and over the top to the Walshaw Dean reservoirs. Matt said he was struggling with his breathing and told me to go on. He was never far behind, though, and overtook me at CP1 Widdop Reservoir as I paused to take pictures and grab a piece of banana. I set off in pursuit but he continued to pull away and before long was out of sight. I guess he sorted his breathing.

The first of the 8am starters (the proper runners) overtook me on the long rocky track between Widdop and Hurstwood Reservoirs. Ones I recognised were Kevin Hoult and Lawrence Eccles, with Rory Harris a few yards behind. They were chatting among themselves as if out for a social jog, whereas I was in race mode in pursuit of PW avoidance, so sadly not able or willing to capture photographic evidence of their passing.

The organisation and support provided by the new organiser was on a whole new level with more cheery marshals (orange-clad) and very well-stocked aid stations. CP2 at Long Causeway sported, among many other things, a massive pile of Jaffa Cakes and chocolate bars appropriately named “Racer” if my memory serves me right. I restricted myself to one Jaffa Cake because I didn’t want to ruin my appetite for the hot dog, which I knew was not far away.

With muddy farms negotiated I was soon at Mount Cross, but where was CP3? A fellow runner told me it had been moved to Todmorden Golf Club. Funny, I don’t recall mention of that in the instructions like I saw about the Heptonstall change. I sucked on a Mountain Fuel chia gel to ‘keep the wolf from the door’ for another 2.5 miles until hot dog heaven. After that it wasn’t long with the remainder of the descent into Todmorden and climb to CP4 at Mankinholes until doughnut and whisky heaven. After all that sustenance of champions I should have been turbocharged for the climb to Stoodley Pike but my genetic inheritance saw to it that I wasn’t. Cue slow, pained trudge.

The long, picturesque descent to the main road crossing at Hebden Bridge brought us to the foot of the steps of doom (I counted almost 100 of the blighters, with steep climbs between each flight). Before I began my slow, faint-inducing trudge upwards I glanced up to see a runner sitting down in recovery mode. I wasn’t surprised. I’ve nearly been there in recent years.

The moving of CP5 to the pub at the top of the hill in Heptonstall is a masterstroke. In the dim and distant past when there were more checkpoints, there used to be one there without food, like there used to be at Stoodley Pike, all presumably to ensure no short-cutting. However, moving the aid station from the Blue Pig to Heptonstall is a brilliant move and worked very well. I hope it stays like that in future years.

The sun had been shining warmly for a while and on the climb from New Bridge I had to stop to take off my windproof top, since I was still too hot even with everything rolled up and flapping in the breeze. I moved to the left-hand side of the track and took off my backpack. This brought sudden unexpected pain to my left hand as I inadvertently dragged it down a bramble that was hanging from the bank. I looked down to see plenty of blood and thorns sticking out of my finger. I laboriously picked them out and shook the worst of the blood off as I continued the climb.

I kept my eye on the time as I neared CP6 at Grain water Bridge with 4.5 miles still to go. I really needed to be there by 6hrs elapsed if I was to grab a magical sub-7 finish. I couldn’t quite make it. I’d spilled a few minutes over. I was relieved to see that the checkpoint and timing boxes were at the end of the track instead of round the corner to the right. That saved a few seconds. I was off up the hill as fast I could go, swallowing my last caffeinated Mountain Fuel Jelly on the climb to eke the last ounce of performance out of myself. Whenever I felt able, my walk broke into a shuffle, even on upward gradients, to Top o’ Stairs. On the treacherous rocky track descent down the other side I ran better and faster than I recalled doing in 2020. Even so I was overtaken by M70 veteran Tony Wimbush, who had started on the 8am massed start. There was no way I could keep up with his pace. He was gone in a trice.

I forced my complaining legs to run as much as they could along the final lanes and over Penistone Hill, overtaking a few others along the way. Then it was down the track and left to the church, out through the gates and some clever right-left ducking and diving to the zebra crossing back to the school. Matt Hutchinson was there as I descended the steps to the final timing box. 6:58:51. I’d done the last section in exactly 55 minutes. For me, that’s a strong finish and it got me the sub-7. I couldn’t have wished for anything more.

Matt finished 6 and a half minutes ahead of me, while Tony finished over 40 minutes ahead. Tony’s final section time was 49:21. Phenomenal. (This SPORTident results service is the dog’s whatsits.)

I passed on the post-race meal of pizza from a local parlour because I had a gut-bash of same lined up as my usual post-race refuelling back home. I have my figure to think about, you know. 😉 Many thanks to the new organisers for a brilliant, well-organised, well-supported and well-supplied Haworth Hobble.