I left my legs on Winter Hill...

So that was it, the last medal for 2013, the last t-shirt, the last finish line...

It was hard, partly because of the rubbish taper I'd had, partly because it wasn't the best of weather and partly because it was never, ever going to be easy.

The first half was the hilly half, up and along and up passed Rivington Pike and then up towards Winter Hill, the TV tower looming surrounded by radio towers.  Already the terrain had been a mix of cobbles, leaf strewn cobbles, bog and tarmac... And then the first three of the 10k runners went past me, hell and high water these guys were fast - 40min 10ks on this terrain well, well beyond anything I'm ever going to consider but a joy to see. At this point a "motivational" text from a mate turned up - You're going to die in this weather. The gods hate you.  Nice, and it worked, I wasn't feeling at my best and the little prod of defiance the text provoked was all I needed. Apart from anything else I'm a stubborn SOB...  

Past the remains of the crashed plane, and the memorial to those who lost their lives, and then at last a down hill bit... and the hail started, driven by the wind into my left ear... A plod/jog down towards the first of the reservoirs of the day, then across a river and up a horrendous set of steps to the welcome site of the first fuel station.  A natter and a bag of crisps later and the plodding started again. As ever after dropping down the backside of Winter Hill, I had to go back up, across deep bogs - my new waterproof socks, gaiters and waterproof trousers combo worked a treat with only a cold feeling, but not a cold damp feeling. With the amount of time I'm on my feet that was a huge benefit!

However, as the hail cleared the vies were good...



Darwen Tower is an odd, rocket like, jubilee monument sitting proudly on the edge of a hill, turning around that and then along the escarpment and the joy of knowing that the main hills were over.  The second checkpoint and restocking the salt and sugar levels and then the solid route march through to the finish.

By this point I was switching and swopping last place with Kate & Emmet - my excuses pale, given she'd run a couple of marathons the day before as she is chasing down a record for the number of marathons in a year.  The back of the pack, well the very long tail off the back of the pack has plenty of interesting people doing things for good reasons.

Darkness descends and finally I'm on paths I would normally run along, but with legs that were hurting, aching to their core.  The head torch on the last three miles included a final pitstop and then the last trot... I managed a jog across the line.  My target had been 8h, and I was under that at 42km,,, at 44km it was 8:11...

An excellent goodie bag, hot stew and coffee and then a lift off a mate got me home.

For my last formal event of the year it was everything I could've wanted - tough, rough, challenging and enjoyable.  The organisers and marshals were all great, which given the weather was as impressive as getting around.
 
 
I even smiled at some point - and apart from my atrocious gait, look to be moving at more than an amble..

So what next, I've 2 months to go... Well, I've an informal event to organise, nice and local.. a gentle 35 miler (more details to follow, but it will be a fun way to spend the longest night), I've legs to let recover and next year to plan.  Something makes me think there may be the odd run in the mix as well... After all, I still have challenge 25 to complete...

Ignore the heart rate, I got lube on the strap... but the rest is about right (OS makes it 4000ft).



TTFN

Paul

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