Firstly, I have no idea why the race has two names! Last saturday I ran the first race in the 2013 Ultra series: Wuthering Hike. After the HPM I had felt good and decided on about Tuesday that I was ready to race again. I dug out my rather scratty map from last year and spent a good few hours on Friday night applying laminating film to it...
Ready for action, I travelled up to Haworth from Sheffield early saturday morning. The race starts at 8am so it was a 5 o'clock start. As I drove over the weather was pretty claggy, the hill tops were shrouded in cloud, it looked like the navigation would be fun!
It was great to see lots of my ultra friends again before the start, as ever at this race a number of people missed the start since they were in the queue for the portaloos, but this year I was well organised and I was on the startline with a few minutes before 8 - phase one complete!
So off we went! We jogged off up Cemetry Road then joined the path out towards Bronte Bridge. I was running at the front with Kim Collison, Jim Mann, Duncan Harris (who I hadn't seen before the start - I hoped he wasn't there!) and a few other guys. As we climbed up to Top Withins I tried to lead everyone off the wrong way but Duncan kept us right, perhaps I couldn't quite remember the route, as would become apparent shortly.
I really enjoyed the first two hours of the race, the tops were clearing a bit and the conditions were really nice. We ran along the edge of the reservoirs on the Pennine Way, then dropped down to the road and checkpoint 1 at Widdop. The next reservoirs (Hardhurst and Cant Clough) arrived pretty quickly, I was now running with Kim and another guy I didn't know (Matt?), the three of us were trotting along well. After checkpoint 4 we began a section of the route that I thought I knew - the drop down the Pennine Way to Todmorden Golf Course, then down the little ginnel past the church and down to the main road. This, however, is where it all went wrong...
I'm not sure exactly where we went wrong, but somewhere we turned SW off the track and never made it to the Golf Course. We ended up in the middle of Todmorden, and followed a main road for a while until we knew we were certainly off course. We had a quick discussion and confirmed that we were all on the same page - we're lost. After confirming with a local that the road we were on headed to Bacup (ie. bad), we turned around and charged off back through the town. I lost touch at this point so was on my own. I finally found my way back to the right route and arrived at the Mankinholes Youth Hostel checkpoint just as Kim and Matt were leaving.
The next bit was the ascent of Stoodley Pike which I actually quite enjoyed, but basically I was angry. I spent the next hour and a half trying to catch people up. Frustratingly I actually remembered the route all the way from Mankinholes to the ctrossing of Penistone Park just before the finish. I messed this up again and after catching Jim Mann (who had also had a bit of a nightmare, due to being knackered from training) on the climb to Top O' Stairs I saw him pass me by taking a better line. I caught him again on the final run in and we finished together.
I had caught a fair few people but only managed to get myself back up to 19th place. I finished in just under 5 hours. Kim had got away from Matt and finished 4th in 4:38. Duncan won in 4:22, but only by a few seconds from 2nd!
So, not a great start to 2013. In fact, I can't remember the last race I didn't mess up the nav on. I was pretty pissed off, but as Kim, Jim and I agreed afterwards, it's only racing... We still get to run, and that's what it's all about :-)