Karen’s Calderdale Hike

Calderdale Hike

 The third race in the Runfurther series this this year and a ‘new’ route for the Hike with Long, medium and short options. We were back in the cricket club for the day and the promise of chip timing, more food at CPs again and better food at the end!

As usual we drove across the night before and put up flags and banners. It was quiet, apart from a spell where the police helicopter responded to a stabbing nearby, and I slept well. Bob had decided to do the ‘short’ walk and so as we were up early I took the boards, mint cake and prizes across to the hall. Gradually runners started to appear and there was much discussion about possible routes to take at various points around the course. It is point to point so you get to chose your route between CP and the suggested route is not always the best for speed. Despite my recce I was still undecided about a couple of sections but confident enough to know what to expect and a vague idea of the route as a whole. After a tough time at H55 I was nervous and anxious about how well I could do. When Phil told me Claire was ill and a DNS I was cheered by the thought my Runfurther points might not be so bad but then Sarah appeared- she had a late entry. Ah well. On the plus side she had no idea where she was going.

The forecast was very mixed and uncertain with a bit of everything predicted at some point. It wasn’t going to be cold though. The race began at 9am with it’s usual hilarious split! Most runners going down the driveway, those in the know taking the sneaky back path and others standing bemused and wandering what to do. Within minutes another choice saw some veer right onto the land and then fields of the suggested route whilst many of us stayed left and on lanes for longer. I made a determined effort to reign in my speed but knew the flog up Luddenden would help slow me anyway. Here again there were several options and I was confident that mine was faster and easier underfoot. It proved to be so as I got ahead of Phil again and avoided congestion on a steep narrow muddy path.

Glad to be going up not down these

It was nice to leave the tarmac and head over fields towards the golf course and then Ogden Water.  Lots of runners were now being passed. The CP in the car park was busy but we soon left the crowds and headed up onto the moor again. Footpath knowledge again helped me keep up with the ‘twin men in shorts’ and also Phil who kept appearing from my left. In fairness he had done no recce, doesn’t know the area and was relying on reading a paper map. Once on Hambledon Lane they shot ahead only for me to catch them as the dithered at the start of the conduit path. They all headed down onto the ‘suggested’ route but I knew it to be a muddy mess with deep puddles despite what the OS map suggested. I opted for the conduit- flat, mostly dry and easy running. I got to the CP on the road at the same time as the ‘twins’ but missed Dave W taking photos.


A short road section and a track led to another conduit- again Phil appeared from my left. It was the last I would see of him as easier nav let him put his speed to use.

More and more walkers were now being caught, including Andy who helped us set up the new Runfurther. From Top of Stairs I was back on familiar trails and Haworth Hobble route and the CP at Grain Water Bridge soon appeared. The ‘twins’ were just ahead but Phil was gone.

Phil and map

We were soon off the moor and heading to Walshaw before the start of the long long land westwards. I had been dreading this but actually managed to run pretty much all of it and stayed with the ‘twins’. We were so busy concentrating on catching walkers ahead that all three of us missed the next CP as it was just off route. Apparently there was a notice but we thing it was hidden by a group of mountain bikers at the gate.

The ‘twins in shorts’ I saw a fair bit of them

The short road section up to Widdop Reservoir was soon over and we were trotting across the dam. The guys pulled ahead slightly here and it stayed that way all along Gorple track/ Pennine Bridleway. They were too far ahead for me to shout when they stuck to the suggested route. I took the route Kevin had suggested and it was better- all downhill and all on very good track.

Widdop in the sun on my recce

At Hurstwood car park I confessed to having missed the last CP and asked if the guys had been through. No, they were some way behind and I never saw them again. I stuck to the suggested route despite the step slightly overgrown path to the track and then it was easy running to Long Causeway. The road section here is never great but a surprise CP with food boosted me before the nasty muddy drop and climb to Mount Cross Lane. The next section was Hobble route. The mud near the golf course was not as bad as I expected and after Cross Stones we stayed on lanes heading east before the drop to the canal. Here I was caught by Jonathon and this proved a real blessing as we pulled each other all the way to the finish.

Big thanks for making me try/run

I had promised myself that at this CP I would judge which route to take. Adam and Kevin both said the canal was only about half a mile longer. Provided I could run/jog and so not be too bored I would go that way. It was less interesting than up over the moors but had to be faster. I think the two guys at the CP were laying bets on who would go which way! It was an effort but there was no real excuse not to run and before long the outskirts of Hebden appeared along with crowds of tourists.

You can always see it but at least we were not going up there today

Local knowledge soon gained us distance as we diverted off the canal, through the park and onto paths by the river and railway before the streets of Mytholmroyd. We were both starting to flag now and slowed to eat. A loose pact of stay together and make the other keep running emerged as we started along the rail-side path to reach the final CP at Brearley. From here it was only about 5km, first long more rail-side path and then on steeper and steeper lanes up to the finish at Beechwood.

Having a hilltop venue means it always a long steep climb to the finish and you can see the church for miles. We concentrated on picking off walkers and not slowing down too much. I had thought we might just break the 7 hour barrier but it was not to be.  Jonothan pulled ahead on the last section of lane and shot to the right of the church before I could shout No. I went left and back in through the small path, just beating him to the finish.

In Claire’s absence I had managed to be first female in 7hrs exactly and 6th overall.  I will never be as close to Phil ever again! I was tired but happy. All day I had been running and waiting for Sarah to catch me as she had on H55. I really pushed to prevent this but I needn’t have worried- she had made a serious nav error and was a long way back.  Lesson learned- start more slowly!! A good day out with just two bursts of drizzle- except for the later runners who had rain. Bob had already finished and I sat chatting and refuelling with him, Phil, Francis, Ian and then Dave L and Pete C.

The timing seemed to have worked well for the race and the food was certainly back to the  old standard with the food at the finish especially great. I hope they get more entries again next year as I suspect the numbers are still a bit down on their peak. It is a great set up and I like that the route changes every few years.

More and more friends appeared and once the rain stopped Bob and I went out to take down flags and banners. Nick was still eating so we transferred stuff to his car and said our goodbyes.