Aug 09 24
If the Dolomites hadn’t been enough for the old legs, we finished off the holidays with the Phoenix long o/mountain marathon near Rothbury in Northumberland. This event is a line format however you return back to the campsite on the Saturday night, hence you only carry essentials for the day. Richard and I both ran the A course. I decided to do the A course before I knew that prior to the event I would have climbed over 8000 m. My legs were pretty shattered on Thursday and I hoped that they would recover in time for this event … either that, or the altitude training would kick in. Did it? hmmm… not sure.
The event took us over hills of nice runnable stuff, bracken and heather in places (although not as bad as last year! The Pennine Way bordered the top of the map, whilst some MOD land bordered the bottom. The first day was 20.8 km for us and there were some good route choices; do you go up and other the undulating terrain or do you opt for the fast, but longer Pennine Way. I did the latter on one section and wished I hadn’t – I was running along over the paved path and every now and again a slab would be covered with peat, but completely solid underneath. I took this for granted until I stepped on one of the slabs to find it was missing and consequently went straight down to the thigh in the bog. I wanted to stand there and watch fellow competitors come to the same fate, but thought that I should get on running instead. The first day was quite long and my legs were indeed feeling worse for wear despite wearing the Skins that are meant to help with such aches! I got to the finish eventually and cake and hot tea awaited me… so did the results … it turned out that I was the only woman on the A course despite 2 others being entered.
Second day – legs still feeling tired, but I’m always stronger on the second day and this was no exception. Again we set out, on the same map running over undulating off-path terrain. After a few hours there was a very long leg. The options were to run on paths which undulated through the hills, or take the road which was all downhill but was about a quarter longer (on a 5 k leg). I decided to take the road and I think I might have been the only one, however my times for this leg were comparable with a friend who took for cross-hill route – quite a risk though, although less so as I was competing against myself. This part of the race after and during this leg was hard as I passed the campsite and the finish knowing that I still had a way to go. So down the road, past the campsite, up the vegetated valley by the stream with no path, get to the control, back down the valley, along the road back again, up a spur by the side of the road, find the sheep fold, traverse the hill with chest height bracken, head back down to road level in a valley, climb back up 75 m or so to a control in a re-entrant, run down the hill, through the freezing cold river, where I got cramp half way through, stagger to campsite, get last control, dib the finish. Richard brought me soup and cake … good husband!
Richard came 3rd in the A class. I was first woman, but last on the A course …. but hey, my legs were tired and I still won a slightly too large top (which is now Richard’s).
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