A couple of days ago I wrote about how my recent injury was getting on (read about it here), and how this Friday I was planning on a longer run. I have entered the Oldham Way Ultra, 40 miles of hills, in seven weeks time, so today was going to be a do or die run. Survive and I’ll be more confident about the ultra, hobble home and I’ll call it off.
My planned route was to park at the top of Littledale, run down the hill and then up the shooters track, join the Clougha Pike to Wards Stone footpath, and then drop down into Roeburndale, finishing off past the Littledale Free Church with the last climb back to the car. I’ve run up or down the main shooters track a few times, but the other parts of the run would combine the recent Littledale run I did with Helen and Nelly (read about it here) with a run over Wards Stone from last year (read about it here). There would only be a short section of a mile or two which I’d never run before, so even if the visibility wasn’t too good, I should be OK.
I wasn’t OK.
Setting off up the shooters track was all fine, a little rain and wind but that was all, apart from having to walk much of it because it’s so steep. However, it soon turned to snow, with ice on the track, and the wind getting stronger and stronger, with visibility not very much. The photo below is where the shooters track crosses the footpath.
The last time I was here I could see the footpath, even if I couldn’t see the top of the hill. This time the path was snow covered. I opted to head towards Clougha Pike in the other direction, a route that I had done many times, although not for a few years. The path was fairly visible, with some footprints visible in the snow from a day or two ago. A moments distraction and suddenly I found myself off the path, in a blizzard, very little visibility and no clue where I should go. I stopped to think, before following my footprints back for what felt like an eternity but was only a couple of minutes, finding the wide and very obvious path once again. A bit annoyed with myself I carried on.
It wasn’t too long before I reached the top of Clougha and started the descent, which was very slow due to the icy rocks, but soon I could see the whole valley once again. Towards the bottom the path was a mud fest as I traced my way back to the car. Cold and wet I headed home.
I had managed 15km in horrible conditions, with 600m of climbing. Not as far as I had planned, but I didn’t feel anything from my injury, which is good. I also realised that as the Oldham Way Ultra has a 13 hour cut-off, even at the pace that I ran/walked today I could still finish in under ten hours. On top of the run I also took Nelly out for two 40 minute walks, and walked into Lancaster to meet my amazing wife for coffee and cake. I’m feeling a lot more optimistic for the ultra, which was what today was all about.