A rarity, a race locally that I haven’t already ran. I didn’t even know it existed and I’ll tell you straight up, I’ve been missing out! It’s ace.
A race that’s a part of the Penistone club championship this year, a race that really when I looked didn’t really tickle my fancy, it was one of those. I looked at it, looked some more and thought go on then, why not. Went into it, completely blind. Not knowing previous results, how far it was, how much it cost, or what type of race it was. In reality, I knew everything I came to find out already. It’s run up to and in and around Wharncliffe Woods, those familiar with leg 6 of the boundary. Should know it, a little bit. The paths, even though they’re different, should feel familiar. Ish.
So off I went, quick 25 minute drive over to Oughtibridge. Got there, took my £4, cheap as chips! Registered at the tent; in the middle of a proper old school village gala, a sports gala in fact. With stalls, shows, and races. Races for the kids, reluctant parents, eager parents and topped off with the chase at 7.30. A gala to raise money for the local area, to bring the community together and have a bit of fun. An old school gala. Makes you wanna move to the area, just for that! A bit of community spirit and pride! Celebrated through the form of sport. Paid my £4. Then went for the first part of my 10 mile sandwich, my warm up. Jogging out and back on Langsett road. Lovely. Back to the car, t shirt off and down to my Penistone vest. Ready to go, back to the field. Talking to the many Penistone vests in attendance and spotting Joe Sweetnam-Powell. A part time Penistone runner and Steel City Strider. A class runner. Straight up, he said, have you checked any of the past results… I hadn’t. He said he’d won it 4 years in a row up until the start of this year’s race. So he was feeling the pressure with me being there, we ran the 5000m on the track together on Sunday. Me finishing around 15-20 seconds in front of him. He was feeling the pressure to put on a performance and keep his title again. Understandable, we wouldn’t be runners if not. I wasn’t planning on racing it as such, more of a just another run, but in a race. Got some quick intel about the course from Shaun Dimelow earlier in the day, and a text from him saying the woods are bone dry, wear road shoes. That I did. I only own fell or road shoes at the minute anyway!
Now onto the line, a lap around the field and then out onto the climb. Toeing the invisible line, ready to go and we was off. A quick lap, settling into dream pace as we left the gate, only to be shunted by the climb. Hugh Mackie on my shoulder as we lead the charge, class ‘junior’ with big things to come, if he keeps it up. Feeling comfortable, but on my toes on the climb. Pace would be way off my desired, ‘marathon pace’ everywhere. It’ll either be too slow or too fast here tonight. Up, up and up. Cote de Oughtibridge, I think that’s what the french call it! Then a turn left, a small descent into the woods, down a nice concrete path. Then we hit the only mud on the course, as we began to climb again. Dropping Hugh Mackie as his race was going a different way, couldn’t hear anyone behind me. 1st Mile was comfortable, I felt steady and controlled. Roughly another mile of climbing to go, Coach Shaun, mentor, motivator, scout, inspiration and the groups general Dad; was stood at the top of the climb. Using him as a marker for when the pain and suffering would be over. Jokes, I love a climb really! Road shoes definitely the better choice, went for my Boston Boosts. A bit more supple than the adizero adios boost. A bit sharper for the off-road stuff, especially when there is loose rocks or prominent sticky out bits! The path fell down slightly, fooling you back into an ascent. Legs recovered in time for the 2nd half of the climb. Feeling good and pretty alright, despite in my first bit of the sandwich feeling pretty lethargic and generally knackered!
A glance down at my watch, then looking up to see Shaun at the side of the path. 300 yards he says, then you’re at the top. Wow, that was over quick. I was happy with that. Ready for the downhill, stretched my legs out as soon as it came. Knowing that recovering from the climb is the most important bit to attack the downhill. It rolled, got steep and then got steeper some more. Got a bit looser and then I heard Joe making his charge on me, flying as usual down the hill. A particular strength of his. He glided past me as we returned to the only muddy bit on the course, we hit the concrete and I thought, I’m not having that, as I went ahead of him. Onto the steep downhill towards the finish. I took the road to avoid the juniors who were finishing their race, thinking just in case they don’t move. Joe took the path and the juniors moved, typical. Quickly entering into the field, I took a bit of a wide berth. Nearly rugby tackling Joe on entry. A bit of a mad dash began. Joe kicking and pulling away from me, he has a pretty impressive kick! I just ran comfortable in behind, his breathing began to increase and became pretty audible. As he slowed and I went on by, about 100 metres out from the line. We turned the corner and turned again, kicking towards the line. Me finishing around 3 seconds in front of him. Unsure where the line actually was, we just entered the finishing funnel and presumed it was there. Turning and shaking hands, just how sportsman should do.
I managed to grab the trophy to take away Joe’s 4 year streak, apologies. But knowing him he’ll make sure he works even harder to get it back at some point in the future! Class act. I stopped my watch at the end of the funnel, so I’ve got it at 21:52. But that’ll probably be wrong! It’s about 0.1 mile shorter than the Spencer’s Dash, but a whole world different, with the terrain and amount of ascent thrown in. Around 600ft over the distance and the fact that it is all over the first 2 mile.
Did I enjoy it? Too right.
Would I do it again? Too right.
A fantastic race, one that I wish that I’d have known about sooner. It has challenges, it has familiar bits, it’s a race. Get yourself down next year to the Tom Holmes Oughtibridge Gala Chase.
Went for a cool down with Joe on his stomping ground afterwards, seen as he lives pretty much around the corner. On a pretty nice trail/river path, that I didn’t know was there. That would have been better for the first bit of my 10 mile sandwich. Which ended up being 10.5, every little helps! A decent run out. Went back for the presentation.
Back to the car, another race ticked off and 63.5 miles for the week so far. Not bad. My legs are shot and heavy, but it’s all building towards the bigger targets and goals. Eventually I’ll get there.
As my calendar, on my wall, says at the minute..
‘Don’t stop when you’re tired… stop when you’re done’
Just Keep Running…