This was the inaugural Ilkley Half Marathon, held on 14th July. It was my first road half marathon, with the added spice of my eldest son also running it. Obviously no familial competitiveness there! Training had not been as intended when I registered last year, as I had a bike crash in September with multiple broken bones, a torn cruciate ligament in February and a broken arm in May. So I was just happy to be outdoors doing some exercise.
While I await surgery to repair my cruciate ligament I am confined to road running, which would not normally be my choice and the training is, in my opinion, a little dull compared to the Moor! Nonetheless, this was a magnificent and most enjoyable event. There was a large event village and the race was completely oversubscribed, with more than 1600 runners. The route was perhaps not the most picturesque but made up for it in spades with atmosphere as the local crowds lined the route through Ben Rhydding, Ilkley and Addingham, cheering and banging cowbells.
There was great camaraderie in the runners and just as energy was flagging, the huge crowds on the finishing line gave an incentive for the sprint my legs would normally deny me. I came in at a little over 1.32, about 90 seconds after my son, who I had only seen in the distance from the moment of the klaxon sounding.
However my parental competitive disappointment was softened by a time that I was very happy with, 79th overall, 5th Vet 50 and just a great day out. The event was superbly organised (by Sportsshoes), great fun and the beer was cheap and good quality afterwards. Highly recommended and worth trying to register early as it’s likely to sell out again. It would be great to get more NLFR vests out there!
The Pennine Way extends 268 miles from Edale, in the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Park, ending at Kirk Yetholm, just before the Scottish border. On 6th June, in a day’s window of sunshine, we decided to do the first two legs from Edale, finishing just off route in Slaithwaite. Helen’s grandmother lives up on the moors by Deer Hill and over 30 years ago her dad and uncle hiked the route. Ever since, Helen has been keen to follow their footsteps, largely for the promise of a healthy portion of sausage casserole and rhubarb pie at the end! The route is around 50 km and neither of us had run or walked that far before. (Helen’s longest running distance was a half marathon.)
Anticipating a rather long slog, we were up early to run down to Leeds station and hop on the train to Edale. By 9.30am we were on our way enjoying the rolling green hills of the north Derbyshire Peak District, clambering up Jacob’s ladder and skirting around Kinder Scout. Before long we reached the panoramic views across Kinder Downfall before a sharp right at Mill Hill to follow the paved path (not turning left and ending up near Glossop and a mile off route…). Twenty kilometres in and so far so good.
Then came Bleaklow Moor along with that long-distance-running-knee-thing people talk about which began with a Superman face-plant onto the cobbles from Helen and eventually ended with a hobble into Crowden campsite for a much-needed lunch stop after 35km.
Following a breathless gobble of sugary carbs we were back on our feet and feeling fresh. We ran up to Black Hill enjoying more lush green landscapes across the valleys. Since Crowden is technically the start of the second leg of the Pennine Way, and since we set off from Crowden later in the day, we didn’t see a soul making it an incredibly peaceful stretch. At the top of Black Hill we could begin to see the tops of Meltham Moor, on the other side of which was our destination.
With renewed energy and what felt like a spring in our step we shuffled down to Wessenden reservoir and snaked a right at the top of Blakely reservoir to leave the Pennine Way and run towards Deer Hill. With less than a mile to go, the rain began at Shooters Nab as we galloped through the cotton grass into the open arms of a rather excited grandmother wearing a pair of binoculars big enough to see us in Edale.