Some six Harriers took part in the Pendle race last Saturday. I saw Mark W and Tony T at the start (and certainly, not thereafter), whilst I did not see Adrian W, Mark R or David A apart from sighting a distant Harriers vest at one point.
On the way over, I thought that we’d be relegated to the bad weather course as happened last year, since it was raining hard and also cold. The idea of “two laps round a muddy field near Barley” was a gloomy one, so I was delighted to find that the organisers decided to go ahead. It was colder over in Lancashire (the weather not the people) and snow was on the ground even in Barley.
Once away, we climbed quickly into quite deep (though not crisp and even) snow. By the time we got to the top (for the first time of many), it was about 20cm deep and it was snowing quite hard with a cold wind blowing. Some runners seemed to get by happily with shorts and vests, whereas I was more in the overcoat and muffler camp up there. As my wife kindly pointed out when I mentioned this later on, “that’s because they were going fast, dear”. How the leaders of the race broke trail I cannot imagine. On the occasions when I stepped out the muddy rut in the snow along which everyone followed, it was hard work just for a few meters to pass someone. I see the first three were within half a minute of each other so maybe they shared the trail breaking then had a sprint finish…well done guys.
I am sure most of you know this race. I had done it before but had mis-remembered how many times you drop to intake wall level before trudging back up to the top. So just when I was congratulating myself on being on the last ascent, I realised to my chagrin that the final and steepest one lay ahead. Doh! Oh well, I drew on my resources of motivation and managed to haul myself up. Over on that side of the hill and on top, the track was now just hard packed snow with no sign of mud, so it must have been getting colder. I managed to pass a few runners who were having problems with grip and practically on all fours to pull themselves up, and I arrived on the top for last time with no-one else in sight ahead and in mist. I took a bearing and counted paces here since the last thing I wanted to do was follow the wrong set of tracks back down the far side of Pendle. Happily, it soon looked like the M6 again, and then back to the finish.
Mark W was first Harrier in a cool 3h 9m, and Tony was just over 3h 30m. I managed 4h 9m which was a fair bit slower than I thought I’d done before. However, that feeling is one of “deja vu all over again” these days, although in fairness to all runners, the conditions must have made a rather slow race. The Harriers acquitted themselves well with everyone finishing in the tough conditions.