Nicky Gifford, Sara Richard and myself have been entered for this adventure for a while and on the day we were joined by Laura Hind who decided she was up for a laugh too. We arrived at Norwood village hall and immediately bumped into Laura Martin’s husband, James Sneath, Rob Fearnley, Serena Blackburn, Laura Clark and Steve Robinson, so it was a good turn out as usual from the club for this local almost 25 mile run. According to my Strava it was 24.1 miles.
Nicky, Sara, Laura and myself decided to set off together and take it steady, I was shattered after moving house 2 days before so I just wanted a nice day out with friends and to get round in one piece. The weather was forecast to be sunny and it was certainly warm from the beginning, no need for hats, gloves and thermals unlike the usual long distance running weather we are accustomed to. In fact Laura had brought sun cream with her.
For anyone that hasn’t done the route before you start at Norwood Hall and follow a road route down to Swinsty Reservoir, crossing over the dam bridge and up the side of Fewston Reservoir. There you cross the road and follow the stream up to Thruscross Reservoir where there is a refreshment stop. Nicky and I were trailing behind Laura and Sara a little, Nicky was struggling with an injury she’s had for a couple of months now and I was full of cold and not on form. We stuck together a bit longer till we hit the moor going up to Rocking Hall where Laura and Sara started to pull away. When we regrouped at Rocking Hall checkpoint (which incidentally has the best fruitcake and cheese ever) Nicky and I told them to crack on, I knew the route as I’d done it as a training run with Liz Fawcett last year and I was fairly confident I could get us round without getting too lost.
From Rockinghall we dropped down to the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey and after a quick comfort break at the pavilion loos and a little dip in the ford we followed the River until we got to a bridleway that takes you up to Storiths. So far the ground under foot had been fairly good paths, a bit of mud along the Washburn Valley but not bad. The fields that took us from Storiths to Deerstones were decidedly wet and boggy, followed by a muddy sharp incline before coming out at Beamsley Beacon car park and a fantastic refreshments stop with tea, coffee, sausage rolls, sandwiches and flapjack. Here we were met by Caron and Andrew who had decided to combine a run with cheering us on, it was great to see them. As we approached the checkpoint we were surprised to see Sara and Laura just starting to climb up Beamsley Beacon, I thought they’d have been much further in front and was pleasantly surprised. Nicky was struggling and wasn’t really enjoying herself, we had various conversations throughout the day comparing the route to Rombalds and the conclusion was she preferred Rombalds and I preferred Blubberhouses.
After a quick pit stop and with our mug of tea in hand we kept moving before we seized up and started the climb up Beamsley Beacon, it was most definitely a walker! Next we headed for Round Hill. I hate Round Hill with a passion, not because of the bogs but because of the uneven surface and I always turn an ankle, I knew that for me this was going to be the biggest challenge of the day. We kept trying to get a little trot going on the climb up to Round Hill but kept having to navigate bogs which would stop us from getting into any decent rhythm. For a little while we gave up trying and walked with a lovely gentleman who turned out to be 75 years young and who walks 10 miles every day with his wife, he walked quicker than I could jog, what a lovely bloke. Over the stile we went and the bogs got bigger, I had a girly scream at one point and Nicky lost a leg in a bog up to her knee but apart from that we negotiated Roundhill unscathed and laughing, exiting the moor by the house with gargoyles on the gate posts. For those of you that have done our Roundhill race it’s where Kath always marshal’s, I breathed a sigh of relief to get back onto solid ground for a bit and we pounded the road to Timble before crossing more boggy fields to drop down to the dam bridge on Swinsty reservoir once again.
From here it’s a mile or so back to the start across some fields, this is where I decided to get confused with which path to follow and ended up taking the turning for Reservoir Ramble, luckily I knew pretty much straight away I’d gone wrong and we were heading the wrong way so we turned around and went further up the road to pick up the right path across the right fields. Nicky was flagging now whilst I’d gone into homing pigeon mode, I just wanted to finish as quick as I could no matter how tired and sore I was. We hit the final bit of road together and managed a quick jog to the finish in 6 hours 16 minutes to be greeted by Sara and Laura who had finished in 5 hours 50 minutes. Can I just point out that Laura’s last and only long run was Rombalds in Feb 2016, she’d done no training for this and was still smiling and being sprightly at the end, she’s a machine!
Sat having a cuppa and our meal we obviously discussed our day, Nicky did not enjoy it and was traumatised, Sara and Laura had enjoyed themselves and were still in fine fettle, I’d enjoyed the route but was now ready to go home to bed and not unpack more boxes and hang pictures. Sara did what Sara does best and started talking us into another long run, although we are now undecided on One foot in the Gargrave or Yorkshireman Full, as they are both the same weekend it has to be one or the other. She also suggested I do another ultra with her, I’m sure you can imagine my response…
Results aren’t out yet but apart from Rob who was walking I’m assuming everyone finished in front of us.
Another fantastic LDWA event and a grand day out. Same again next year I think.