Fran Enjoys A day On The Tops

“Well, all the whinging and grumbling and months of training have been leading to this, my big marathon début.It was a nice morning, but promised to be misty on the tops.
Everyone started together, walkers and runners for all three distances left the village hall at 9 o’clock and began the long climb.My plan was to run where I could, walk any gradients and just get round in one piece. I’d decided I would finish it, even if it meant crawling!Unfortunately the route seemed to be mostly ‘up’ but everyone else was walking too so I wasn’t too concerned. I ran with the same people for the first 7 miles or so, through trees and along country lanes.Had a nice cup of squash at Scugdale.
At the second manned check point, the route splits and everyone seemed to be going the other way! I got confused for a moment and nearly followed them before realising my mistake and trotting back in the right direction!
Now the field was strung out and for most of the moor top crossing, Cringle Moor, Cold Moor etc, the runners in front were just dark shapes in the mist.
I felt better when we reached Clay Bank top and the sun came out. I was hungry so took a rice crispie cake at the check point, but it made me feel sick and I couldn’t get it down. I felt guilty dropping it in the grass.  
It seemed an awfully long gradual pull up hill to the self clip point at Botton Head, but as someone else remarked, we were turning towards the finish. Oh, only another 13 miles to go? Great!
The running/walking was on good track and the people who been shapes in the mist were now specks in the distance as they pulled away.
It was an uncomfortable descent into Seave Green, through the village to the checkpoint at Chop Gate car park. I asked the marshall how far in we were, she said 17 miles.
As I left the checkpoint, it started to rain. It didn’t last long and I was far too hot to even consider putting my waterproof jacket on. A stiff climb took us out onto the moor once again and I gradually caught up with a group of lads walking. I’d pretty much given up on running now, everything was hurting, but I managed to pick up speed as I passed them, til I nearly went headlong tripping on a stone!! I was tired and getting clumsy. Back to walking.
After crossing a really wet bit above some enclosures, we were back on good track. I jogged on and off but I don’t think I was any faster jogging than I was walking. It was a shame I was so tired and sore as I could have otherwise made up some time. But hey ho. I was still moving, and it was a brisk walk.
Through a farm and we dropped down into Wheat Beck. I must admit I was feeling a bit sleepy tired now. I faffed about longer than necessary but avoided the lure of the chair. I got my phone out of my bag ready to ring Paul (my partner) with an estimated finish time so he could come pick me up and was horrified to see the time!
Anyway, I spurred on by the thoughts it was only another 4-5 miles back to Osmotherly! Here the route splits again, with the 33mile route adding an extra loop. My 26 mile route squelched across very wet ground for about a mile then onto track and out onto the moor top road above Square Corner. I must have been travelling a lot slower than I thought as walkers over took me, other runners who were coming down off the 33 mile route joined my route and ran on like it was nothing. I realised it was going to be 4 o’clock before I finished and that really bugged me. It was too long, I was too slow. I got cross and mardy and stamped my way down to the reservoirs in Oak Dale.
Soon though, I was on familiar territory, with just a mile to go!
The last self clip point was on the footbridge crossing the Cod Beck. I climbed the steps with another chap and he said ‘Come on, you have to jog the last bit!’ I figured he was right and started jogging, a lady runner was behind me and she spurred me on to go quite fast. We came out onto the road and around the corner to a cheering crowd and I entered the finish funnel at a good lick!

I made use of the ‘shower facilities’ and had a nice drink before collecting my certificate and badge and heading home.

I would definitely recommend this race for anyone who likes a good challenge and I will probably be back next year, after all my time will be easy to beat…”

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