Saturday, 22 February 2014

Nighttime fell race

There are some people who run of the fells through the winter in the evenings with headtorches. I don't.

But my club (Pennine) included a head-torch nighttime fell race in their club championships this year, so I thought I'd give it a go. It was called Mr Sparkles Dark Un and was 5 miles long.

I've been focusing on my fitness and leg strength over the winter, but haven't done any training in the dark. I was discussing it the other day, and was told that it takes a bit of getting used to, and I should practice. But I didn't get round to it.

So... the day of the race arrived - last night, and I drove up to Tockholes in Lancashire after work. It was pretty cold and predictably dark. I did a bit of running up and down the track with my head-torch on to see how weird it felt. And it did feel a bit strange.

I figured it wouldn't be too hard to run uphill in the dark, as I'd be going slowly. So my race plan was to blast it for the first two-thirds of the race, which is largely uphill, then hope to cling on to my position for the final descent.

I knew Dave, my club teammate, would be doing his best to claim the club champs 100 points for being first Pennine finisher, so that added a bit of extra incentive.

The race went to plan - I set off quickly, and after 50 yards, thought "this is OK, I could be in with a shout here". It was quickly clear that the first two were a class apart from me, but I was in third for about half of the race.

I was being followed closely by another runner who must have been Dave. His torch was bright and was helping me see where I was going, so it was both disappointing and not so disappointing when he passed me and he wasn't Dave.

As he passed he said something like "better get a shift on or they'll catch up". I glanced back to see a necklace of lights streaming towards me up the hill. I replied bravely "Yep, I'm with you", as he quickly disappeared into the distance. I tried to dig deep, but was realising I'd gone off too fast (hang on - wasn't that the race plan?) and was getting that cramping stomach feeling when I'm running too tense. 

I was spurred on by another light behind me. This must be Dave this time, so I did my best to be brave and learn how to descend stony tracks by torchlight. If I can sum up my learning in one sentence, it's this: run as fast as you can, because the rocks that are big enough to stop you are big enough to see. I was almost feeling confident until Dave breezed past me. Thankfully, as I glanced up, I realised that this wasn't Dave either.

I was still blowing, so was very pleased to be told "a few hundred metres to go". I crossed the finish line and before I had time to draw breath, Dave was there too shaking my hand. 

100 club champs points in the bag (just), and my first head-torch run - and race. I'd thoroughly recommend it.

No comments:

Post a Comment