Sunday 18 November 2012

The Wrekin Wrecker - a bit of spontaneous fun in the sun

This week, I've mostly not felt like running.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I listen to my body and get in a bit of extra rest.  The benefit of occasionally taking a break is having the energy to get out and throw in an extra race as a reward!  So, with friends Mitch, Roy, and Chris, I headed out to run all 'round The Wrekin.  I had missed out on the race last year, due to injury at Abingdon, so was happy to have a chance to try it out this year.

This race is a category A fell race, which means it's steep (average 50m/km of climb).  It also means there will be plenty of top class competitors there to make sure I don't get lost as I follow their footprints.  The route was very well marked, well marshalled, but could have done with a few more slow runners to pad my ego when I look at the results.

We started in the middle of a wood with temperatures hovering around 4C and quickly headed along a narrow, undulating track before the first ascent of The Wrekin.  It wasn't particularly difficult, just a case of getting up by alternating between a run and a fastish hike.  By the time I hit the top, I was warm, but wasn't about to take off my gloves or headwear - I wanted a little extra protection in case I took a tumble on the rather steep scree slope that was just around the corner.  On top of the hill, the sun was shining bright and I briefly considered the decision to keep my shades on my head to have been correct.  Then, we were back into the woods and they started to bounce along as the route headed down the hill.

It's been a few months since I've raced hard in the hills, and it showed.  My feet weren't moving as quickly as I would have liked when I got to the scree slope, but I managed the first half quite happily.  The sliding, jumping over roots, and general high-concentration, high-turnover descent was a lot of fun.  I did cop out at about half way and steady myself against a tree, trying to clear my eyes that were watering from a mixture of cold air and adrenaline.  Unfortunately, shortly after I resumed my run/shuffle/ski/jump down the hill, I found myself facing up the hill, sliding feet-first towards the bottom, somehow having pitched forward, landed on my side, rolled onto my back, and then onto my front as I tried to stop the slide and get back to my feet.  I expect it looked spectacular, but it also left my shades a few yards up the hill and I had to trudge back up to get them.  Mitch looked up when he got to the bottom in time to see me stand up, arms aloft, as though I had just completed a fantastic dismount from the pommel horse.  It wasn't the most serious fall, but apparently it had style!

The next couple of miles, gently climbing, were pretty unpleasant.  I'd winded myself a bit in the fall, and found it a struggle to run much faster than a gentle jog.  When we reached the 1:3 clamber back up the hill, I was feeling pretty beaten up by the course.  Still, by 4.5 miles, we had 2 of the 3 ascents complete and it was due to be plain sailing, surely.

Once again, we headed down the hill and into the woods.  The track was a little less steep than the previous ascent, but full of roots, rocks, leaves, and other obstacles to keep the mind sharp.  The final climb was steep and steady, but by then I was starting to feel OK again and just worked along with the group of runners that had been catching me since my fall.  The final descent was incredibly challenging and full of trip hazards, and I would have loved to watch some of the more experienced fell runners as they passed me.  I caught glimpses of very fast-moving legs, but mostly tried to focus on where my slightly plodding feet were going to land.

Finally, with a mile or so to go, we were back onto normal, undulating trail, and I was able to pick up the pace and try to pull a bit of time back and finish 71st, around 1/3 down the field.  I enjoyed the mini buffet at the end while cleaning my wounds and waiting for the results.  All told, a bit of fun, a bit of sun, and a race I may just go back and try to finish without hitting the deck.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review......that descent is hair raising....Well Done...See you at the Cardington....?? She