The Commondale Clart, very aptly named this year!! I have done it in winter and summer previously but was still apprehensive given the monsoon rains lately. No surprise then that the run was dominated by long stretches of mud, bog and freezing cold puddles/plunge pools which froze the feet from the moment we stepped off the road onto the moor. Fortunately above ground it was remarkably pleasant, sunny, still and even warm at times so overall a good place to be for a Sunday morning run and no regrets about driving so far for a relatively short race.
For the uninitiated the course itself is a circuit starting and finishing in Commondale, next to the pub, long, steep climb on road out of Commondale to start, followed by a long drag up and across the moors, before a fantastic gradual descent on tracks, sharp left turn on a little wooden bridge and then across and down through heather to a stream, then back to road into Commondale for a short, steep downhill finish.
Me, Mike Bennett, Mike Hughes and Jan Young had travelled together and met Shaun at signing in, regrouped in the pub afterwards where the preoccupation was over which route people had followed. Several of us hadn’t swerved far enough left after the trig point, as advised to do by the race organiser at the start, resulting in a tiring trek across heather and bog rather than following a muddy trail. For me it was a dilemma, thought it was a wrong/different route to the one I could recall – seemed much further too!! But surely the twelve or so folk I could see heading up the fell in front of me must know where they are going, so I better follow them. Wrong call entirely. Jan had had the sense to cut across the right way and made good progress as a result.
Shaun came across some grouse shooting butts somewhere, which he hadn’t passed on previous runs, so don’t know where he got to [Made the same mistake as most of the field, it seems, at the trig point. Doh! Ed.], but that’s one of the features of the Esk Valley series, some markings occasionally, no marshalls, a recognisable route for most of the time, but every now and then you get to a point where you are just not sure, if there is no one close, or in my case you can’t see where everyone has sped off to, then you press on and hope your directional senses will win out!! Give them a try if you have never done them, excellent value and EOD.
Prizes went to Mike B and Jan for winning their age group, so well done to them.