Spire Ultra – leaderboard updates and write up

Thanks to Jamie’s very efficient publication of results we already have an updated leaderboard.

Karen’s write up of the Spire Ultra is below.


A short(ish) race and so a short blog. We had decided to combine this race with and errand and family and climbing, it is after all a bit of a trek fro Preston. The errand was a success- collect the poles I left at the Fellsman from a house near Keighley. So far so good. Then we encountered the Bradford CAZ… would have been cheaper to post the poles. Hey ho.

We spent the rest of the day climbing at the newly opened Leeds Big Depot climbing wall. It was great- masses of routes, holds I had never seen before and we stayed for hours. Chris and Alice came after work and then we all went for a lovely meal. We said our goodbyes and went back to the climbing wall- an even longer stint today. When we left I had done all but 3 that I wanted to do or try.  Hands sore, arms buzzing with exhaustion and very tired. At least we had a night stop ready planned only a 5 min drive from the race start. Meal in van, wine, cheese and an early night. I didn’t sleep very well but that is not unusual before a race.  Apparently the east of the Pennines had been much wetter than Lancashire and there would be MUD. Mud here just means peat bog and mess but over there it means gloopy, slippery stuff. What shoes to wear?

We were at the start by soon after 7am and the flags, banners and boards were up by 7.20. I put the rope mats inside, registered quickly and went back to the van for breakfast. The forecast had promised no rain and warmth. It didn’t quite feel that way at 8.30am but perhaps it was coming. After multiple toilet trips and after catching up with many friends we were herded outside ready to walk up the road to the start. I kissed Bob goodbye and told him to enjoy his bike ride.

Ashok- behind me at the start but only for 1 minute!

At 9 we were all off the road and on the narrow path. Jamie said Go and we were off. I had tried to play the route of the race through my mind in bed last night but could only remember patches. I hoped as I reached each section it would come back to me.  At least the section past the ‘new’ houses would be easy- this is where two of us went wrong a couple of years ago- then we had started at the farm and so it was near to the end of the race. There were plenty of people around for the first mile or so but then the first ten or so fast runners started to pull ahead. I was alone for a short while until a guy from Wales was running with me.Two heads are always better than one, even with a GPS watch. She and her partner made a couple of small errors and although they were slightly faster down the worst of the mud they never got far ahead. We were to see lots of each other.

So far so good. At almost every decision point I recognised the route and at a couple of places I had a short hesitation but was fine. The first woods were not too muddy and we got to Holymoorside unscathed.

The next woods were muddy but we were soon on field paths heading to the main road crossing- some faster running here and on tarmac for a while. I felt I was struggling but tried to keep in contact with Sam and her partner. Linacre woods were muddy too and my feet were now wet fro a stream crossing but I stayed upright. More fast running took us to the footbridge over the A61 and some more muddy woods.

At two points we crossed fields with tall bright yellow oil seed rape with enough pollen to coat my arms and clothing in yellow dust. By CP4 opposite the Miners Arms in Hundall I needed food and so stopped briefly. From memory the more attractive scenery was over for a while.

Another section of sploshy and slippery mud led me to New Whitington and then having crossed the river, canal and railway into Brimington. This is where Sam first pulled away and out of sight. I plodded uphill through the houses to the next CP but could not see them. I ran this next section almost alone with just one guy passing me in West Wood.  From here we started to pick up old tracks and the disused rail line trails- NOT my favourite. They seem to stretch on forever and there is not excuse not to keep running despite feeling a bit trashed by now. On the plus side I could still see Sam in the distance every now and again and that kept me going along with the hope that the CP at Longcourse would have it’s usual array of fab food. Yes- boiled potatoes, strawberries and melon. Sam had pushed on but on the long track up to Scarsdale Hall I could see them again briefly.

The climb up to Heath was tough but we were now on the home straight. The 5 Pits Trail paths were easy running compared to the mud but again they seemed to stretch on with no respite. I made one stupid error here and lost about 3 minutes as I headed downhill on a nice wide path only to have to turn around and flog back up again. The only thing keeping me going now was the hope that I could stay under 6 hours and not be too far behind Sam to maximise my Runfurther points- even then I did slow to walk a couple of times. Finally I reached the outskirts of North Wingfield and knew it was only 500m to the end.

A tough day out but it had not rained. I had not fallen in the mud and I did creep in under 6 hours. In fact my time was exactly the sae as my first go at the race in 2019. That year I won, this year 2nd but still first old lady.

Bob had been out on his bike having fun but Ashok took a photo as I finished. I was about 6 mins behind Sam.

First 3 women

The winning man took the record in 4hrs 12 minutes- incredible. I recovered with Jamie’s dahl soup, cups of tea and cake before relaxing on the grass outside and applauding others as they finished. As a bonus I got a large and apparently very potent bottle of his dad’s cider.  One nice touch today was seeing Pete Carter back to ultra racing. He is an old friend from Preston Harriers and took me to my first ultra in 2009- the Haworth Hobble telling me it would be fine, it’s just a long fell race but with some food. Just look what you started Pete!