What a race, what a route and what a lot of mud!
The Haworth Hobble is 32 miles of beautiful Bronte country and starts with a run up the cobbled high street past the parsonage. We soon also passed Top Withins, which is alleged to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. Despite its accumulated ascent of about 4,800’, the Hobble is very runnable and the first 15 or so miles were fast. There was an impressive field of runners with the British Athletics team using it as a trial race before the trail championships in June (the winner finished in an astonishing 3.54hrs!). Needless to say, I didn’t see any of them and just kept my head down and did my own thing, which was mainly to try to stay on my feet and not keep slipping over on the wet stones and in the bogs.
The route takes you along parts of the Pennine and Calderdale Ways taking in some gorgeous windswept moorland and numerous reservoirs. Curlews and lapwings were calling and it felt springlike despite being a bit damp and unbelievably muddy. Rachel Hill was running as a pair and passed me looking strong at about the 9 mile mark. About twenty miles in you get two major ascents and those felt tough. I was feeling sorry for myself on the climb to Mankinholes and then some friends passed me who had done the high peak marathon the weekend before. I knew they’d still be recovering and yet they were chatting away and didn’t appear to be suffering at all. It was nice to see them and it gave me a kick up the bum to try to crack on. The next cp was a bit of a godsend, there were two bottles of whisky on the table and as I arrived I was offered a glass so I necked it and it didn’t half give me a boost. I felt positively cheery and with a fire in my belly I headed for the ascent to monument at Stoodley Pike. Unfortunately the fire went out as I started the climb and it was a matter of just getting my head down and grinding it out.
I almost cheered at the top and with wobbly legs I made an effort to get running again. We went down a killer hill coming into Hebden Bridge followed by some demon stone steps out of it and then up to Heptonstall, my quads were really complaining now! That was followed by lovely woodland at Hardcastle Crags which helped to keep me distracted & around this point I struck up conversation with another runner and we ended up chatting for most of the rest of the race which really helped to keep me pushing on and stopped me thinking about the hole in my sock, my aching knees and my sore toes. We had another steep climb to tackle and more beautiful moorland before catching a glimpse of the last reservoir before the finish. By this time I was feeling quite happy and relieved to know we were nearly home. Coming back into Haworth was brilliant and people lined up along the route to cheer us on. I’d started the race thinking I’d be happy just to finish it and so I was really chuffed to find I’d done it in 6.13hrs. It’s the longest I’ve run since my reactive arthritis after the Lakeland 100 in 2015. It was great to see so many familiar faces in the hall. I met up with Brian again and was delighted to find that he’d had a great run finishing half an hour quicker than the previous year (when he’d been getting over his pericarditis). Let’s hope this is the stepping-stone to more long distance adventures and a year of good health and good running.
2017 Settle Harriers Results:
Rachel Hill (with Tony Wimbush) 5:53:53
Brian Stallwood 5:58:22 (2nd M60)
Hester Cox 6:13:09
David Alexander 6:42:50
Laurence Ormrod 6:44:57
NB Photos are courtesy of Dave Woodhead at woodentops.org.uk