Mike B and me got up v.early on Sunday 7th July and travelled cross-country to the South Lakes to take part in the second running of the Hoad Hill Half Marathon.
We chose this race partly because we had never heard of it before, it was held in a part of the Lakes seldom visited by tourist hordes; the alternative ‘Cross Bay Challenge’ looked too flat (with a chance of drowning); and a relative living nearby could be visited; also the course profile; 6miles lumpy up and down, 6miles totally flat, followed by a killer climb and descent in the last mile seemed like a challenge too good to refuse; and my last official half-marathon race was the GNR in 1995!
Starting and finishing in Ford Park, Ulverston, a full marathon set off 30mins before the Half was led through town by guides to negotiate the central streets, a few back lanes, and some civil engineering works before being let loose on the Cumbrian Way; a nice gentle start as the track was too narrow to do anything but follow the runner in front, and then there was the kissing gate! one runner at a time certainly stretched the field out (next year oil the hinges please). After that came a series of lanes and fields interspersed with tracks across and around fields, gradually reaching out onto bracken and rock covered hillsides with glimpses over the estuary before the headland revealed the full glory and extensive views of Morecambe Bay at low tide.
No sign of the ‘Cross-Bayers’ today as it was so windy the sands had shifted and their start was relocated to Silverdale just out of sight behind the Cartmel penninsula. The strength of the wind also defeated the organisers of the Hoad Hill races who had to abandon plans for entertainment and refreshment marquees in the park.
Nice views over Bardsea village before we dropped down a steep rock-strewn lane to the coast, through the garden of someone’s Stately Home and turning north along the coastal path; sometimes on hard track; sometimes on soft sand; other-times large rounded pebbles; several miles of playing cat and mouse with other runner’s strengths and weaknesses; some like uphill; some like downhill; I was comprehensively thrashed by a lady from Dunstable (just visiting, she said) who clearly liked the flat terrain along the coast and then disappeared into the distance once we got to the canal just after the sponsor (GlaxoSmithKline)’s factory. The Canal; completely flat, completely straight; how can a distance just over 1 mile seem like it takes forever?
A few twists and turns on country lanes, crossing the main A590 road under Police guidance, and enter the park to climb the switchback path towards the Sir John Barrow monument on Hoad Hill. Pass by one casualty of exhaustion/dehydration/overexertion laid out beside the path but efficiently attended by concerned runners and marshalls, all in radio contact with Race Organisers/Emergency Services and reading details off the back of her race number (did we all fill that in before starting the race?). Onwards and upwards becomes a test of resolve to see who would break into a walk last of all; I give in early to temptation, but can walk as fast as most around me can run so no big deal there apart from young ‘Ben’ who has a fan-club waiting at the top of the hill and is compelled to overtake. Pass by another handful of runners laid out around the base of the monument with cramp, some in tears, some having their legs pulled (literally) by sympathetic marshalls; I catch up and get past Ben on the downhill stretch but the sprint (ha!) finish into the long funnel back into the park brings on cramp for me and Ben has it in the bag.
Not the cheapest run I’ve ever entered, but well organised, well marked, loads of bananas, and a nice introduction to places I would never otherwise have seen (campervan owners can contact me about an interesting wildcamping location spotted on this run).
Oh! and the T-shirt?; you’ll see me and Mike coming from a long, long, way away!
|4||Christina Wiejak||Barrow and Furness Striders AC||F||01:40:51|