Report from Hannah:
Sat 1st Feb and it was Rombalds Stride time again. I think I’m right in saying that it was my 4th year in a row and every year the weather brings a different challenge to the already challenging 23 mile route, this year it was the wind. Although it was a lovely bright day and there was no rain forecast the wind was not good. I would personally rather run in any other weather but the wind, I hate it.
For those of you that don’t know the route it starts at the retail park in Guiseley and heads through Esholt, up to Baildon trig, across Harvey Smiths gallops up onto Ilkley Moor, past the Twelve Apostles, across to Keighley Gate and the Swastika Stone, back onto Ilkley Moor via the White House, across to Burley Woodhead, through Menston, back up the Chevin before the final descent to Guiseley. If you say it quickly it doesn’t seem that bad!
This race is a Long Distance Walking Association event and is a mix of walkers and runners, it’s a very popular event with local runners because it’s low key and friendly, so as usual there was a good turnout from the Black and Whites. This year my partners in crime were Nicola Swann (back for her second year so she wasn’t put off when she accompanied me round last year) and Sara Richard. At the last minute we were also joined by Liz Fawcett and the incredible (or mental) Sarah Fuller who I’d somehow managed to convince to join us after 150 miles of the Spine only a couple of weeks ago….I think she’d had a drink when she agreed to it.
9am and it was time for the off, it was fairly uneventful till after the 1st checkpoint, layers were stripped off as it wasn’t cold and the lovely Steve Davey popped up on the road out of Esholt to take our photo. So far not as muddy as it has been in the past and with Sarah F setting the pace to suit her tired legs we were all feeling fairly comfortable and happy. Once we got out of the shelter and headed up to Baildon trig point we felt the full force of the wind, Liz and Sara seemed to skip off into the distance and I brought up the rear struggling not only with the hill, which isn’t unusual, but also trying to actually move forward in the wind. I was trying hard and not moving anywhere, it was hard work and we had a long way to go yet. We’d all previously said that our least favourite part of the whole day would be till the trig point so I was looking forward to reaching the top and getting stuck into the rest of the route.
Coming down off Baildon Moor is great fun and I’ve often ended up on my backside due to a slide in the mud, no issues this year. We caught up with Liz and Sara again and everything was going well until we hit the top of Ilkley Moor heading towards the Twelve Apostles. This is where the usual bog fest started and although it wasn’t actually as bad as I’ve seen it before I just couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm and everyone was leaving me behind. No worries I thought to myself as I knew once we hit the slabs I’d pick up the speed again and catch up.
I managed to catch Sarah and Nicola up just before we got to the slabs and after a quick gel to give me some energy I was ready for some decent running till we got to the next checkpoint on Keighley Gate. Ha ha I couldn’t have been more wrong, as Liz and Sara disappeared Nicola, myself and Sarah decided to leave them to it as we battled with the head on wind. Sarah asked me if I wanted to pass her at one point as I think she thought she was holding me up but I was using all my strength to trot / walk into the wind and I was incapable of going much quicker.
A quick pit stop was needed at the end of the slabs as Nicola was battling with a pain in her leg that had started in her foot and was now travelling up in to her knee and after a slurp or tea, with painkillers for Nicola, off we went again picking our way through the deepest bogs. We learned later that Sara had landed head first in one of the bogs on this stretch and had just picked herself up and carried on, impressive. I think this is also where Matt Podd had his altercation with a wall, Matt won. The route is really straight forward after the bogs so we were off running properly again and were all looking forward to a decent cuppa at the checkpoint just before White Wells. Unfortunately, the marshals were having real trouble keeping the tent from flying away and were busy trying to sort that out so we decided to forego a pit stop and crack on. Again we were back to trot / walking as were fading a bit and the wind was hard work again. It was time for a bit of refuelling for all of us.
The next part across the ridge to Burley Woodhead is probably my favourite part, being a Burley lass I have lots of memories from various adventures as a kid. It also reminds me of the first time I did Rombalds with Laura H, we’d done little training and were extremely tired by this point so started playing the alphabet game to try to distract our brains from the pain we were in. It quickly became the swearing alphabet game and I always have a chuckle to myself at this memory. This year the refuelling had worked and I was feeling ok again but the wind across this ridge was horrendous. It was blowing hard against your right hand side almost blowing you off the edge at times, I’m not exactly light and there were a few occasions where I was nearly pushed off my feet. Then it started pushing you from behind, great you think a bit of a tail wind to help you on your way. Not when you’re trying to stay upright negotiating steep, rocky inclines, it was a real challenge. By the time we were coming off the moor at Burley Woodhead I’d developed a groin strain from trying to remain upright and it was my turn for the painkillers.
I think it’s safe to say we were all feeling a bit jaded now and it was agreed we’d make our way through Menston to West Chevin Road as best we could, we all knew what was coming and we wanted to conserve some energy for the “Beast”. If you’ve never done Rombalds you might wonder what the heck I’m on about. Whoever decided on this route has a twisted sense of humour as you come out on West Chevin Road just below the lodges at Clarion Fields and you’d think the final section would be up Moor Top, along York Gate and then join the same route as the Chevin Chase back into Guiseley. Oh no don’t be daft, we’ve not done enough climbing yet. So down West Chevin Road we go until we get to the corner before the stables where the Llamas are kept.
You may or may not be aware that a path starts here that goes up the side of the Chevin, through some woods and comes out at Yorkgate Quarry carpark, it’s as steep as Johnny Lane, as muddy as hell and a challenge to stay upright and you’re legs are wrecked as you’ve done 19 miles by this point. If you’re on Strava it’s called York Gate Climb and to give you an idea of how steep it is I’ve just checked my stats, it’s 0.55 miles long and it felt like doing at least 10 miles. Half way up here my back went into spasm, which I can only assume was a result of battling the wind on the moor, and Sarah hit the wall. I was quietly concerned about her for a couple of minutes and felt awful for talking her into joining us but like the true warrior she is she got going again and once we hit the top there was no stopping us from getting to the finish in a time of 5:45.
Liz, Sara and Chris Brunold were wating for us and the meat pie was amazing as always. I’m sure there must be easier ways of getting a pie though, like driving to the butchers that makes them maybe?
It was still a grand day out with great company and I’m in no doubt that I’ll be getting an entry in again for next year’s adventure.
Official results aren’t out yet and I have no idea who came in first. Below are the results I’ve been given from those that picked up their certificates on the day
Richard Smith 3:04 9th
Rob Grant 3:07 13th
Tom Lynch 3:08 15th
Graham Lake 3:26 31st
Victoria Stainburn 3:53 83rd
Hannah L, Nicola Swann, Sarah F 5:43.
Report from Rob Grant:
I have previously quite fancied doing this race/walk/event but I hadn’t got around to getting a ticket, although I had recce’d the full route with Richard Smith a few weeks previously. I’m very grateful to Hannah for finding a friend with tickets going spare – one for me one for Sarah Fuller – as it really is an event that needs to be experienced.
There had been plenty of pre-race banter covering most aspects of the day including the weather, the route, how many maps to carry (waterproof or otherwise), kit choices, shoe choices, pie choices etc. and I have to be honest and say the pre-race nerves were starting to get the better of me as they often do before a big event. But the morning came and although it was windy (the weather could have been much worse), once I was at the start, kit and maps intact, the nerves had ebbed and I was actually quite looking forward to it.
The 22-mile route takes in Guiseley Woods, Baildon Moor, Ilkley Moor, Burley Woodhead, some of Menston’s finest snickets and the Chevin. I’m quite glad I had recce’d the course beforehand as I would’ve got at worst lost and at best over-awed at a number of points en route. There is every kind of terrain – mud, tarmac, grassy hills, bogs, limestone flags etc. and at one point I was up to my shorts in a bog. This is the first time that a race rival (or in fell running language, a fellow masochist) had actually laughed at me (in a friendly, knowing way) during a race. It was at this point that Richard overtook me and he also had a chuckle – he and I had had a few encounters with the same bog on our recce run and so with a knowing smile he went past. We ran together for a few miles but slowly his lead grew. This was mostly down to his superior card punching skills and knowing how to tie shoelaces properly of course, but I managed to stay within a couple of minutes of him until we hit the Chevin. It was actually really quite pleasant after 20 miles on the Moors to see the familiar North Face of the Chevin in front of me – the sense of familiarity and of being ‘home’ made me feel a bit more comfy, and I knew it was just a hop and a skip (ok – a vertical, muddy, slow ascent) over that well-trodden hill and then back onto the tarmac for the ‘sprint finish’ into Guiseley.
It was great to see some familiar faces out on course supporting us including Caron, Andrew and Antonio popping up at regular intervals, and Steve Davey snapping away at numerous spots too – thanks everyone.
This was another one of those races which was way outside of my comfort zone (terrain- and kit-wise at least) although I have to say they are getting a little bit more comfortable now. The mix of terrain and race distances and types seems to be making me a bit more resilient overall, and it’s also doing wonders for my wing-span (see photos – courtesy of Caron and Steve D).
Injury report: Hannah tweaked a groin, Mary H stopped at the Chevin due to fatigue (bad luck, Mary – I have massive respect for anybody who even stepped out of their front door on Saturday morning in that gale), Matt Podd collided with a wall and came in looking like something out of ‘Platoon’ and Steven B’s battery gave up on the Chevin (literally and metaphorically).
My unofficial records of OAC entrants is as below – apologies if I’ve missed anyone. Official results to follow if and when the scouts get around to publishing them:
Steven Boddy 4:03 ish; Matt Clegg 4:43 ish; Lee Gumbrell 4:52 ish.
Hannah Lupton, Sarah Fuller, Nicola Swan 5:43
Chris Brunold – were you out there somewhere?
Mary Hampshire – DNF
This was the first race I have ever done where the prize is a pie, and what a pie it was. It was washed down with about 10 cups of tea, rice pudding with tinned peaches, and a couple of pints and a curry later on.
All in all, a fantastic race. Well done to everybody who took part or spectated. And many thanks to the organisers (if they are reading this) for laying it on.
A few photos from Jack Robertshaw @ Burley Woodhead.