Well, the clue’s in the name. Like many races produced by Dave Parry Productions, this one was bordering on the barking. Those unfamiliar with his production values might have been slightly bewildered by the seemingly random nature of the plot but for regular Parry buffs it was all re-assuringly familiar. We knew he was only half-joking when at the Start he asked the faster runners to wait at the Finish if they got there before Dave did. Seeing as how the Finish was, bafflingly, a long way from the Start. It was, for that matter, a long way from anywhere.
At the Start I bumped into Mike Bennett, who thankfully had a reserve of safety pins to compensate for my paltry collection of none. We chatted about this latest addition to the Dave Parry franchise and wondered how it would unfold. When we got underway I began to see the familiar trademarks, such as the marker tapes that appeared at random points along the clearly defined trackways, but disappeared whenever you got somewhere where they might have actually been useful, such as a corner, or junction, or checkpoint. Presently we got the to the hook, the Incline. A long straight no nonsense climb. It was one of those climbs where you’re never quite sure the optimum point to stop running and start walking. During my running bit up the early phase of the climb I thought of Alan Purvis’s report for the (not flat) Kielder Marathon, where he “ran every step of the way” and I decided I would try to do the same here. I got about half-way up the incline before I got to the point where my running was slower than other runners’ walking, so I walked. I managed to convince myself that it was simply more efficient and faster to walk than run, rather than I just couldn’t run.
Over the top of the incline to Checkpoint 3, which like Checkpoints 1 and 2 were marked with invisible tape, and I kept the folk in front in sight and assumed that someone was following someone else who was following someone else who knew where they were going. Heading back along the Cleveland Way we were treated with occasional panoramic views that give North York Moors fell races their special magic on summer evenings. A detour via checkpoint 4 at Round Hill trig point, back onto the Cleveland Way, and finally a sharp right-hander down to the finish which, unsurprisingly, was at a gate, next to a bit of heather, next to nothing of consequence, in the middle of nowhere in particular.
Despite it being a sunny calm evening I knew I would cool down quickly, so rather than wait at the finish I walk/jogged the mile or two back to the Start, but which time it was dark and cold despite putting on the contents of my bum bag. I run hot, and get cold quickly. Normally I would hang around for the presentation but it was cold, dark and getting late and I wanted my tea, so I headed home.
This is a race for trail-runners – good surfaces, clear tracks, with a long straightforward slog up the incline. The remoteness of the Finish didn’t suit me and I’d rather have finished back at the Start, but I’m guessing that the idea is to make it a 10K race. Fans of the Lakeland Trail Races should give this one a go.