Once more we assembled on the High Street ready for the typical low-key start - we only knew the race had kicked off when the people in front of us started moving!
The front end of the race was typical of most of the race - gradual climbing, in the "should I be running this or fast walking it?" mould - the only major climbs stand out as the two stage ascent up Stoodley Pike, the climb out of Hebden Bridge and again up past Hardcastle Crags - but the 4,800' definately add up and let you know they are there. Opting for neither a run nor a walk - but a bimble - I cracked on.
The flagstones soon appear - after the initial climb out of Howarth - and good time can be made across the moorland. It's a shame they are too treacherous for you to be able to get your head up and appreciate the view. They seem to be just that critical few inches too short to match stride length, meaning every step must be carefully observed. Add in a pair of steamed up glasses for the ultimate run across God's own country.
We are soon down by the first reservoir: do you go left or right?!?!?...went right again, Nick Ham went left and popped out 10 seconds in front of us; that route follows a path whereas ours was along a metalled road that rose slightly... decisions decisions...
Route finding on this one is fairly straightforward; ironically the only complications come when entering civilisation, but with the size of the field and the conditions, it's generally ok. The check points this year were stocked with the obligatory broken biscuits, recurring were some exquisite chocolate orange mini cookies. I may not have paid close enough attention but the hot cross buns did not seem as ubiquitous this year. The whisky on offer below Stoodley Pike this year was Talisker, it does feel a bit 'Tough Mudder' but who gives a shit, Talisker is great tackle! Down the hatch with a biscuit accompaniment for a perfect start to a 600' climb.
I ran this race with my friend Stefan from Pennine, he's normally much quicker than me but to my good luck he was coming back from injury so was taking it 'easy'.... he dragged me round for a sub 6 hour finish... checkpoint discipline and constant graft were recurring themes!
Kit worn: merino wool base layer, Pennine vest - warm at times, generally comfortable. Gloves went on for exposed sections.
Drink carried - 1 litre water. CP's generally did not have cups so little water drunk en route - ~0.5 litres when there were cups available
Caramel Snickers perked me up at mile 30 when I felt ready to fall asleep!