Saturday saw a return to one of my favourite races – The Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round. this race is a testing 10.4 mile circular on Pendle Hill in Lancashire with a decent 2000′ of ascent thrown in for good measure. Whilst it may never offer the sheer brute of a Lakeland race, the fact it is held in the springtime & the top is notoriously boggy with leg sapping peat it offers a stern test for even the most accomplished fellrunners.
As i usually like to do i arrived in good time to get registered & have a chat with my fellow warriors. There were already a good number around Barley village when i got there & i was greeted on the car park by allround top guy Darren Fishwick (aka Tindersticks) who told me he wasn’t running due to a strain – now i thought Daz was the hardest man in fellrunning & had to question again just to be sure, those 472 races last month must have taken their toll 😉
I was happy to see a good number of humbugs arriving to run as my only real apprehension upon switching clubs was that i may end up racing the fells alon but so far this hasn’t been the case with a good showing at the three i’ve done since joining, the custom #teamtac photo was taken & we were soon heading back across the road to the start.
#TeamTAC – Credit:- P.Brown
Away we go & off down the lane by the old waterworks on the way to the fell. There is a couple of sharp inclines on this stretch and even early on people were slowed, hands on knees, to a power walk – sometimes it is easier to adopt this method as it can be quicker than actually running and often offers a touch of respite. We soon enough reach the start of the first climb to the summit of Pendle, firstly up the gloopy field to Buttock gate where traction was a real issue – god knows what it’ll be like in an hour or so when these 300 people have been up it again!! Through the gate and onwards & upwards now onto the open fell, slippy, damp & unforgiving as we ascended into the fog, i found myself using the onrushing water gully as the rocks under the flow offered the firmest grounding for my already sodden feet.
Into The Mist – Credit:-D.Woodhead (Woodentops)
Once at the trig i knew this was where my race began as i am the first to admit that getting my rump up the hills isn’t exactly the strongest weapon in my arsenal, i would be lucky to score 1 on a top trump card & it was no surprise that i found myself among the tailenders at this point. “Not too worry i thought, you can crack on from here now & get some places back as you usually do.” Not today you won’t old son as what was to come was unexpected. I’ve not been able to get onto Pendle anywhere near as much as i would have liked so wasn’t really aware of the underfoot conditions, even though i have spent a vast amount of time on there over the years very rarely are you following another 250+ pairs of footprints through a wet, gloopy abyss.
I ran hard through this part of the race, around 4 miles traversing nearly the entire length of the hill to Churn Clough Resevoir & beyond to Stainscomb Dole. it was nip tuck in the personal battles we were developing in out little pack that had formed, no less intense than the battles at the business end of the race, make no mistake, we all wanted to come out at the head of this group so every leg sapping ground losing fall was met with anguish as you knew you would have to work harder again to get back snapping at the heels of your nearest rival.
Digging In – Credit:- D.Horner
So following those hard miles i was now faced with the ever testing ‘Stans Climb’ affectionately named after the CLEM legend of whose name the race takes on. It was up this climb that the legs went, i blew up, bonked!
This was new territory for me, never before had this happened – i glanced the garmin i knew i only needed an average finish to be somewhere near last years time, no big disaster i thought. Not a chance! I crawled my way up this climb, wincing with every step, psycologically losing the battles in my head as one after the other the group i wanted to top passed me and made off into the distance – it was now about getting myself over that finish line!
I dug in the best i could to get over the hill and down to Ogden Dam, knowing full well i had the climb up to Buttock to encounter again before what was sure to be a muddy run off to the finish. I was greeted at the dam by some fellow Humbugs here to support on the day, i’m not sure i wouldn’t have chucked the towel in here if not for their encouragement at this point – Come on big lad, you can do this! There was even a shout of encouragement from local pantomime character Chris Barnes.
I zig zagged my way up to Buttock, not one single fibre in my body enjoyed that last climb, it totally finished me – i had one single mile to do, even now after the nightmare of buttock if i could finish strong i could sneak in under 2 hours – i crawled it in 17 minutes!
What happed next was the reason i joined Trawden, not because it was forced, not because anyone asked but simply because it is what being part of a team is all about – all for one. As i made my way through the gate to descend the last deserted field i could see my fellow humbugs waiting, probably freezing at the finish for the last man to come home – Brilliant & Thanks!
All in all a top day out, a good strong TeamTAC showing that the fellrunning side of the club is as vibrant as any other, just superb! Time to get some miles in the legs for the epic Heptonstall monster at the end of the month.
Made It! – Credit:- P.Brown