Ok Ive already wrote the majority of this race report before, then the laptop crashed! so you can guess what happened :0( Yes it got lost, reminds me of certain Ultra's.
Ultra no. 6 was the Rombalds Stride, a 23 mile 3000 ft ldwa/Scout Challenge walk (or to quite a few of us, a run) The Rombalds Stride is a circular route, starting and finishing at the St Oswalds Junior School in Guiseley West Yorkshire. The route leaves Guiseley and heads over Airedale Valley before climbing up to Rombalds Moor to Ilkley and over the 'Otley Chevin' before arriving back at Guiseley.
I set off nice and early, and for once I only had just over 20 miles to drive to the race start. My plan was to arrive there an hour before the race would commence so I could put in at least 3 of the extra miles I would need to round the run off to being an Ultra. Last year when I had run the event for the first time I had clocked the route with my Garmin as being 22 not 23 miles, so I wasnt taking any chances, 3 miles before, 2 after.
I arrived at the school bang on 0800 went to register, a 2 minute job, the next minute I was chatting to David Jelley,after a 10 minute chat I registered and headed over to the other side of the hall to put my bag down, sort some of my kit out and prepare to start running within the next 5 mins. I heard my name, I looked up it was Henry Morris, so we had a good catch up and along came Nick Ham then Mark Dalton eventually Sarah Booth and Andy Norman joined us and that was the end of the extra 3 miles before the race start, saying that I wouldn't of missed chatting to such a great bunch of people for the world!!
Considering I had got to the race early, when the bell was rung to start everyone off, I wasn't ready, still messing around with my watch and chatting to a 'now I cant see him for dust' Henry. I joined in and everyone seemed to be running at a pace I would of reserved for a 10k, I hung in for awhile but couldn't quite control my breathing. Within 10 or so minutes sweat was pouring from my forehead and it must of been minus one!! I think I remember passing the Woolpack pub?? and we all came to a standstill while we cued for the stile, I just had time to sort my breathing out. I stalked Nick Ham for a while and caught up with him on the summit of?? (Its all a bit of a blur) and asked him to take a picture of me for the blog (Thanks Nick)
We ran and chatted for a couple of minutes until we came to a downhill section, I took the opportunity to make some lost time up and flew past a couple of runners who were cautiously descending. Followed by another climb back up onto the moor and a trek along some flagstones, I could see why they had been placed there, not so much for erosion but to stop you drowning in a quagmire! one false step and you would be up to your knees in mud and icy water. The Flagstones made fast work of this section.
Ahead of me I could see Henry, I caught him up and said 'Hi' (I'm a pretty unsociable creature when I run, I exchange pleasantries and that is all, I like to either switch off or take in the surroundings, I don't like the pressure of conversation. plus I have trouble multi-tasking, running while breathing and talking I'm a man for pity's sake!! ;0) ) I kept a strong pace up in case he had decided to go after me and eventually a decent descent came up, I let loose believing he would be closing up on me any second, I had put some space between us (ok I'm a bit competitive, I have set goals before the race in my head, finish time, who to hunt down and pass etc etc, just happened to be Nick and Henry :0) sorry guys, let the cat out of the bag now, they will be hunting ME down in future!!) The next section was fairly flat for a mile or so. In 2011, I had flown down this bit with pretty fresh legs, my legs where far from fresh now, and couldn't match anything like the same speed. Eventually the next ascent arrived, the 'Cow and Calf' Crags, I was several metres away from a french guy in front of me, he seemed to let me pass and then followed me (whatever you do,if you are ever behind me, don't rely on my navigating skills :0) ) Everything was going well, and now there was 3 of us running together and of course we missed the right path and took the lower path which resulted with us losing higher ground and having to then climb back up to the correct path, losing valuable time and tiring out the old quads. Back on track I took a sneaky look back and saw Henry coming up pretty close, so I put a bit of a spurt on and relished the next descent.
After a while of 'on a wing and a prayer' route finding through farmers fields and streets of Menston I took the long road descent down to the foot of the 'Chevin' A pretty steep 600ft climb up to the next checkpoint. Last year I had overtaken quite a few runners on this climb (strange really as must people overtake me on climbs, but I guess they had probably gone out too fast at the start and their quads where trashed at this point?) I caught a couple of runners up on the climb but didn't pass them this year. On reaching the summit and the checkpoint it had started to snow and on the descent back to the finish with the snow blowing straight into my face started to cause visibility problems. I could of flown down much faster then I did to the finish but lack of visibility and knowing I had an extra 5 more miles to run after the Rombalds Stride made me hold back. I entered the finish in 3hrs 47mins (LDWA time) 3hrs 44mins (Garmin's time) 1 minute quicker than in 2011 (LDWA time)
In hindsight, 2011 I was half a stone lighter and running on fresher legs, this year the ground under foot was frozen and much quicker to cover then the mud of 2011, so swings and roundabouts!!
The Rombalds Stride is a great run, good checkpoints, beautiful scenery and possibly 90% off road, with just the right amount of climb. Next year when I'm not trying to run myself into the ground Ill come back and give this course the justice it deserves 3hrs 30?
As for the extra 5 miles? They were hell, I started by walking up the road with Henry back to his car, he went off in his nice warm vehicle (Henry finished the Rombalds a couple of minutes after me) I carried on by running round and round and round Guiseley (Wasn't going back up the Chevin !!!) as the snow came down thicker and thicker........ Later back in the School I overheard a conversation, it went something in the way of
"How did you do?"
"Okay but I was struggling, my legs where heavy, I did a 30 miler a fortnight ago, and its still in my legs"
"Good greif! are you mad? doing a 30 miler a couple of weeks before this? Im surprised you got round"
Next Ultra WADI BIH http://www.wadibih.com/ Oman (From minus figures to plus 30 figures)