Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Winter Hill Weekend – 13/14 February

Six out of every seven years the Anglezark Amble takes place the day before the Winter Hill fell race. The “Amble” is a LDWA event organised by the West Lancs. Group and although not a race is, like almost all LDWA events, highly competitive attracting a significant number of runners. The long route is almost 24 and a half miles long with about 3000 feet of climbing as it crosses Winter Hill before going on to traverse Turton, Darwen and Anglezark Moors and finally returning to Rivington where it starts and finishes. The Winter Hill fell race route wanders around and across Winter Hill for a total of 11 and a bit miles and almost 3000 feet of climbing over both paths and pathless moorland.

The Amble is almost always our first LDWA event of the year and is often the first chance to see old friends for the first time since the previous autumn. Taking place the day before the Winter Hill race means the “keen front” of the field is usually less competitive as most local runners save themselves for the Sunday. The Winter Hill race is, for many, the first race of the year and for almost everyone the first tough race of the year and it is also a chance to meet people last seen before the short days of winter. Many use it as a measure of the success, or otherwise, of winter training and it marks a watershed, ending the grind of mid-winter training and start of longer days on the hills.

Away at around eight o’clock on a cold Saturday morning I was just clinging on to the leading group of 7 descending the far side of Winter Hill. Turton Moor wasn’t frozen and some of the going was pretty slow. Leaving the CP at Entwhistle the seven of us were clear of the rest of the field and getting strung out crossing Turton Moor for the second time. By Darwen Moor there were only four in front of me but they seemed well away but I started to chase them in the hope I might drop Karen Nash who was just behind me. Approaching Darwen Tower I was surprised to see, at least, two other runners standing talking to the marshals. Leaving them there with only two in front I settled down for the long drag to Great Hill only to be surprised by two runners catching up quite quickly – having taken another wrong turn Dave Ward & Duncan were racing back to the front of the field – me! In and out of the next CP quickly but they dropped me on Great Hill and after White Coppice I couldn’t stay ahead of Karen who had never been far behind. Fourth place in 04:06:16 less than 6 minutes slower than last year’s PB.

 

Winter Hill Fell Race (1 of 6) Horwich club mates Rob (93), Mark (100) and Doug – all of whom helped on my Bob Graham Round in 2006

Winter Hill Fell Race (2 of 6) Queuing at the stile below the Pike on her first Winter Hill race

Winter Hill Fell Race (3 of 6) Stewart (?) dragging me up the the CP at The Knoll

Winter Hill Fell Race (5 of 6) Approaching the Trig Point with the worst of the climbing done

Winter Hill Fell Race (6 of 6) After almost 36 miles racing over two days – ready for a pint of Holt’s bitter

In 2006 I ran both the Amble and Winter Hill but that was my Bob Graham year and I had been training hard for months before the middle of February and so easing my creaking legs out of bed on Sunday morning I wondered what I had let myself in for. The ground on Saturday had thawed quite quickly as the sun rose but it had frozen hard overnight and didn’t thaw so readily on Sunday but in many places it couldn’t be trusted to take your weight – none of which stopped Rob Hope from breaking his own course record. The results are here. My own pace was somewhat more sedate towards the back of the field. After almost 5 miles my legs started to loosen a bit and I began to think it might be possible to reach the finish, before dark. The second half went much better and I finished in 02:18:34, fourth of eight V55 and 126 of 196 finishers. I have only ever run faster than 02:18:34 twice and one of those was less than 1 minute faster so I am pretty pleased with the time after being slightly disappointed in not getting close to 4 hours on Saturday.

2006      Amble: 04:03:01      Winter Hill: 02:29:56     combined: 06:31:57

2010      Amble: 04:06:16      Winter Hill: 02:18:34     combined: 06:24:51

Conditions were probably better in 2010 but I think I can be happy with the results of my winter’s training.

4 comments:

  1. well done ian and friends. congrats. cheers, scott cameron - guelph, ontario, canada ... see you soon at ben nevis race 2010

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  2. yup, you should be pleased with those numbers. sounds like a great weekend!

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  3. That was a good weekend's effort. Your Anglezarke time was good!

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