Otley’s Ed. Davies was first back to Guiseley Junior school after the tour of Baildon Moor, Rombalds/Ilkley Moor and Otley Chevin in a time of 2: 54:41. Next home for Otley was Simon Anderson in approx. 3:14:10, followed by Ross Armstrong & Jim Sneath both 3:52:51, Sara Richard & Sarah Smith 5:04:37, Karen Potter 5:10:40.
The Rombalds Stride and I go back a long way together. In days of yore, I was in the Scout group who organised the event and I helped out at checkpoints with my dad a couple of times when I was too young to take part. In 1993 I did the event for the first time and have done it every year since.
In the early years, the winning times looked ridiculously fast to me but as I got older and started training more, I gradually got quicker and by 2003, the times at the top of the results sheet had started to look plausible. I knew my level of ability would not allow me to win major races but could I beat everyone else in this local event that had turned me into a runner and get my hands on the trophy for first place?
In 2005 I made the top ten for the first time. By the end of 2013, I’d had nine top ten finishes, including second and third placings, but the top spot had remained elusive. Not wanting to let an opportunity pass, I lined up this year for my twenty-second attempt.
As we waited to start, I assessed my chances. I’d felt a bit sluggish the last couple of weeks but otherwise was in reasonably good shape. Richard Pattinson, multiple past winner, was there, but said he was recovering from injury so would not be as quick as usual. Dave Wilby, who had easily beaten me last year, was also in attendance.
When we set off, there was the usual overzealous rush through Esholt Woods. By Esholt Lane, I had overtaken a few of the fast starters and was in fifth place. Ahead of me were Dave Wilby and Mark Mon-Williams in the lead, followed by Richard Pattinson and Colin Walker.
From studying my previous split times for the event, I felt that I had often gone too quickly between Tong Park and Moorside, probably due to trying to hang on to the leaders. This time I was careful to run at my own pace on this section. The gaps ahead of me opened up a little bit but I was still within a minute of the lead when we reached Baildon Moor trig point.
On the way over to Weecher, I could see that Mark had slowed considerably and I overtook him quite easily. I thought that would be the last I saw of him before the finish, but a few minutes later, he flew past me again! On the lane just before Weecher checkpoint, I passed Dave who had unfortunately picked up an injury and had to retire.
The wind was on our backs on the way up to Lanshaw Lad. The ground was very muddy but not as bad as I thought it might be considering how much it had rained in the preceding month. Some of the bogs were frozen which helped at this point. The sun was shining as well which made things more pleasant.
The stone slabs over to Whetstone Gate were very slippery in places and I was glad when they came to an end. From Whetstone Gate, Richard and Colin went via Cowper’s Cross, whereas I went alongside the wall towards the Buck Stones. We reached the point where our routes joined at the same time so we were then running together as a group of three.
We reached Piper’s Crag in 1:30 which I knew put us well on schedule to beat three hours.
As we ran down the fast path to Ilkley Bottom, Mark was still ahead but I could see his yellow jacket in the distance. As we climbed up by White Wells, we were catching him again and I overtook him just after the top of Rocky Valley. He stayed in contact with us until Burley Woodhead but dropped back after that.
Colin and Richard were fifty metres or so ahead of me on Bleach Mill Lane but I caught them up through Menston. Going up from Ellar Ghyll to West Chevin Road, I felt surprisingly comfortable. My thought at the time was that it just felt like a club run, but in fact it was probably much easier than the horrendously fast paces set by Liam and others on recent club runs (thanks for those!).
We were still together at York Gate and on the muddy part of the track down to Moor Farm but once the going got better I picked up the pace as much as I could. The other guys didn’t come with me so, with less than a quarter of a century’s preparation, I managed to reach the finish first in 2:54. One ambition achieved!
Thanks to those out on the course supporting us – much appreciated.
The full version of this report will be published in three volumes later this year, with the film scheduled for release in 2015.
Edward “Rombald” Davies