Stanza Stones – Karen’s writeup

The Inaugral Stanza Stones

 June was always going to be a busy month and my big birthday run right at the end of May would add to the demands on my body. I am a sucker for lovely weather and feel I should be out in it every day… so when not running we cycled, walked and paddle-boarded plus a bit of indoor climbing.

This race was being organised by Cragg Runner/Daz and it looked like a great route with the added interest of visiting each of the Stanza Stones.  Very early on Saturday morning we left sunny Preston and were shocked to arrive over the Pennines and find the tops were clagged in. Kevin appeared shortly afterwards and assured me it would burn off. He was right.

By the time the flags and banners were up and I had registered before the masses on the coach arrived it was getting warmer. After a cup of tea and lots of chatting I headed outside for the briefing.

It was going to be warm but for now I kept my long sleeves on- probably a mistake but I am a right wuss and hate being cold. Should remember Quentin’s mantra- if you are not shivering on the start line you will be too hot once you are running.

The road start seemed steep and my body was not yet warmed up. Claire was already pulling ahead with the lead men. On Pule Hill I met Bob out for his walk and Steve who was supporting Sally.

There were climbers on the small crag and the Stanza Stone was easy to find. I followed a guy and took the wrong line leaving though!

Dropped too far to the road and had to climb back up over some rough ground- not far but I lost places and was cross with myself. Rachel had overtaken me and we ran together down to the road and the steep path to the stream. I pulled ahead and didn’t see he fall. I was busy taking my top layer off and keeping an eye on Martin up ahead.

He was kindly wearing a bright florescent top making him easy to spot. I told myself not to chase this early in the race but it was no use.. well before the radio masts on Windy Hill we were close and it stayed like that all the way to the White House. The Pennine Way was easy to follow and the flag stone path made for easy running although the ground was so dry that the peat would have been fine. I was pleased to cross the M62 and escape the litter strewn lay-bys and noise of traffic. Blackstone Edge was beautiful and being dry we could avoid the worst of the trip hazards by running on the peaty lines close by. From the Aigin Stone to the CP we were together.

It was a bit of a shock to arrive and realise that I had not eaten at all and had barely drunk anything either. I was carrying plenty so I just grabbed some sweets and pushed on. The big track was easy running and I knew where the next Stone was from climbing on Cows Mouth crag.

The big track continued past reservoirs and it was breezy but hot.  From Warland Res we followed the drain on a big loop that led us the ridge with Stoodley Pike- all familiar territory.

Not Martin but it is the Pike

Leaving the Pike Martin pulled ahead a bit but was always in sight until we left the moor and dropped through the woods towards Mytholmroyd. Here I made my next mistake- a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! I was sure we were heading to the hall that the Hebden uses. I wondered why I couldn’t see Martin and ran 3 sides of a square before realising my mistake and heading back to the Community Hall. Annoying and it made me rush. I should have stayed and eaten more plus I only refilled one water bottle not two. The next section was a bit fiddly and I lost time checking carefully. It was also a steep climb! A path diverted around a house was the only boggy section of the whole day and here four guys caught me. I was struggling with a sore glute, sore left shin and terrible stomach cramp. There was nothing they could do and I assured them I would be fine and tried to follow and tag on to their pace. We dropped one guy and I was now following Steve’s red shirt across Crow Hill and onto the moors. I do not know this area at all and it is years since I have done any races there. It was good to have people to follow and to concentrate on trying to nibble at food as we left the open moor and followed yet another water drain to the minor road. The next Stone was the trickiest to find but the description was good and we arrived with no issues. From here it was down into Oxenhope and then on to Haworth which seemed to take longer than I expected. I was keen to stick with them but knew that the pace was stopping me eating enough. I drank all I had and resolved to stop at the next CP to rest, recover and eat. Haworth was predictably busy and we dodged tourists all the way down the cobbled street and into the CP.

It was now scorching and I was suffering. I sat in the shade drinking lots and trying to eat. I should have made myself eat more but I just couldn’t face it. Martin had left as we arrived and now Steve and the other guy left too. I left a little later and alone. The next section was relatively short but is a bit of a hazy memory…. it was HOT, I didn’t know the way, there were lots of nettles and a climb up onto a moor. Across the moor was easy and I felt a bit better in the breeze but then I made two small nav errors and had to double back. Darren Tweed caught me here and it was nice to have company again as we took the Calder Aire path towards Harden Beck.

There was shade in the woods but no breeze. The path was rocky and full of trip hazards plus lots of families walking and teenagers swimming in the big pools. The second set of woods had a wider path and we were soon on the outskirts of Bingley. In the park on the edge of town we caught a runner I had been with before the M62, he was trashed and I think he retired at that CP.

Off the dreaded canal and arriving at Fellsman CP

Again, I knew I had to stop and try to eat even though it was tempting to crack on with Darren. I filled both water bottles, drank a fair bit and managed a slice of pizza but no more. A cold wet cloth from Charles helped. After a confused moment in the car park I was soon on track and heading for the canal- a mixed blessing of easy nav, what should have been easy running but Oh so boring. It was depressing to be so slow and not make good use of this flat good path to up my pace but my body just would not do it! I could find no where to sit and felt rubbish. I even contemplated phoning Bob and telling him I was doing badly and would be very late. There was some shade and I tried to jog when I could. At least I knew where to leave the canal at the swing bridge. I had messaged Chris Driver with the tracker link and knew he might support us. He and his boys did much better than that. Timothy was out on his bike making sure we didn’t miss the swing bridge turn and giving encouragement. Chris had set up a full water station with William. I stopped to sit, chat and recover. I managed a bag of crisps, more liquid and then William ran to fetch me an ice pop- what a star.  They also checked the tracker and let me know that Rachel was only a few km behind me.

With a bit of food inside me and the ice pop cooling me I set off to the climb onto the moor.

The next Stanza Stone is huge, upright and set in a wall so at least that would be no issue.

I plodded up the tarmac to the moor and tried to keep a good pace going. At least we didn’t have to climb up onto Rivock Edge. The new path into the woods and down to the farms was easy running and I was feeling slightly better- amazing what some food can do! Having clipped at the Stone I pushed on past the paths and up onto Addingham moor. This bit I knew from my Dales High Way run and it was much easier in the daylight and being bone dry. I ran most of it even if it was not super fast and it didn’t take long to reach the moor road. I plodded up this at a reasonable pace but then had to stop on the seat as the slope levelled out. I had a MF jelly and pushed on to Whetstone Gate and the last CP.  I ate a small piece of cake, drank and asked how far behind Rachel was. Suddenly it seemed important not to be caught at this stage having been ahead all day. There was still plenty of day light and I was feeling slightly better- perhaps because I knew the end was in sight. A mixture of walking and jogging took me along the ridge top on the flag stone path. It was cooler now but still warm enough for shorts and T shirt. I was worried about the next stone and checked two spots on either side of the path unnecessarily. More time lost!

I needn’t have bothered- the Stone ‘Puddle’ which I knew would be lying flat was very close to the path and the kite was easily visible. I punched quickly and ran on to the path junction where there was a quad bike. The out and back to 12 Apostles didn’t take long and then it was down and down towards Ilkley. Parts were pleasant running and other bits seemed determined to trip my tired legs. I was also anxious not to miss the last Stone which was always further down the hill than I hoped. There were little red flags in places but some had been flattened or removed. I kept the stream on my left and prayed. Eventually I reached the short turn to the last Stone and I stepped down my leg collapsed with painful cramp. The two guys I had been chatting too were very concerned. They asked what they could do and perhaps were not expecting a request to please massage my leg! Last clip punched and the path quickly improved as it left the moor and a short section of woodland.

Then it was out onto to the road where Bob was waiting and down into the suburbs to turn right on the final level road section and into the field.

Phew- I had made the finish (which wasn’t a given in the early afternoon), had kept ahead of Rachel and it was done.

Explaining the cramp and strange men rubbing my leg

11 hours 38 mins. Longer than I had hoped but I was pleased to be 2nd F, 1st FV and 13th overall. I was only about 15 mins behind Martin  but Darren and Steve had both run well in the second half.

Claire had another storming run and was only just behind Phil by the finish. The winners time was 9hrs20 with Kevin inside 10 hours and Adam just over 10.

I sat on the finish line for a while before moving inside for cups of tea, food and a mini presentation of my trophy, mug and T shirt. Bob had been patient all day so as the light started to fade we dismantled the flags, said bye and he drove me home.

I know there are places where I faffed with route nav and so could do better but then the ground might not be so dry another year. I should have eaten more early on and perhaps have done less in the previous fortnight.  It was though a great day out and a beautiful route