Greenmantle Dash. 02/01/14
Michael G regards this as essential holiday running and if I have a lift to the race (he generously provided one) I am inclined to agree. It's a short sharp assault course and great fun. And although it lasted only about 20 minutes it's well worth the journey.
We arrived in plenty time to warm up. This is crucial as you have to jump a wall, a fence and cross a fast flowing burn. We jogged the length of the village and checked the obstacles. The wall is low on the ascent side and higher on the descent. I favoured the two hands on the top and leg over method. For the fence shortly afterwards similar – a two footed bounce and commit to a vault over the wire at one of the wooden posts. I have seen good runners make a pig's ear of this. It can be done cleanly but if you approach it in a panic with 100 people in stampede mode directly on your heels, it can spoil your concentration and next thing you are under the water in the stream being trampled.
There were a couple of lower bits of fence where some might aim for this year, but these would be highly subscribed by the first runners to get there. Good to have a solid Plan and stick to it. I checked the line across the burn and after yesterday's full dook under had no problem wading into the shin deep water. Best get that out the way. So right in and check the line – look out for a knee deep trench over to the right.
Then back to the car to drop off the extra layer and along to the start line at the Broughton Brewery. Brief talk from Dick Wall the organiser, then we were off. I had found myself on the front line as I wanted to get a decent crack at the wall before queues formed. This was the case and I was over almost before I was aware of it. I heard commotion behind and was glad to be off. Michael hadn't got as good a start and by the time he hit the wall there were folk either side of him and so he was unable to swing a leg over sideways had to go more vertically.
I vaulted cleanly over the fence at the chosen spot and sploshed about 4 steps through the fast flowing burn while again shouts went up as folk made heavy weather of it. Michael found himself going at the stream from a diagonal and finding the deep trench stepped deeper than anticipating and hit his head hard on something. I wondered if it was someone's shoe as it's difficult to image what was there other than the bank. Could have been that. Mary says since Michael is an Aries he will run into stuff head first to try it out. It's not the first time (there was a tree with a low branch and a near lobotomy, I seem to remember.)
Next up and a swamp. I knew it would be wet but I thought it would be easier than when you have to run through the ice. It wasn't. Although Iain Gilmore floated past like he was running over a grassy field. I seemed to be going up to my knees with every step. Was I really that much heavier? While he skipped away I lumbered through at nearly walking pace, my lungs suddenly greasy paper bags and yesterday's last mile vividly re-encountered. Then onto some blessed tarmac and a left turn into a field. Rather than sprint (as if I could) to the bottom of the steep hill and then expire I paced myself and hunkered down for the vertical climb. Michael went past. I well-doned him and watched him gain ground as we got into marching mode and everyone stomped up the steep grass hands-on-knees sweat pouring out my head. I had been reminded at Nebbit Hillrace that bare hands slip less on knees rather than gloved hands so had conceded my gloves. It wasn't that cold. In fact I was now VERY warm and felt the t-shirt was overkill, I should have worn a vest or gone bare chested, hell it was warm. Charlotte went past. This was entirely expected. Last year she ran 18.45 and skelped many men who quietly raised eyebrows and certainly didn't make sexist comments. I anticipated being among that number this year although recently a cough has been stopping consistent training. I heard the cough following across the swamp and into the hilly field like the ticking Crocodile in Peter Pan. Then Charlotte went past. However she didn't disappear and I was able to keep a few yards behind, and Michael stayed about 30 yards ahead. I wondered how far a lead MG would get before the top of the hill which you can't really see. (It just goes on forever.) It's just a case of head down and chug up the hill. It was very steep and very wet and everyone was slipping as they climbed. The rain came on as we approached the high point although it was of no consequence compared to the exquisite agonies we were already enjoying. Michael said his legs were trashed by the turn around. Mine felt in better shape than the twice I have done this race previously which I put down to Wintervals and the cruel Thursday evenings slogging up the crags and the rad road. I don't think I was much quicker going up but when I turned around I maybe had something more left in the tank.
Of course it is so steep and slippy you can't just take the brakes off. It didn't take long to catch Michael. I was almost at the bottom of the hill before overtaking Charlotte who slipped and fell just before I caught her. As the ground levels off I put some oomph into it knowing it was just a gallop along the flat to the finish. With all the obstacles out the way I got a lift (probably some Red Bull, the remainder of yesterday's fuelling strategy which I drank this morning, coursing through my viens,) and I charged at Allan who was taking photos. I closed the distance on the guy ahead but he was going at a pretty decent pace. As we got into the semi flooded finishing field he definitely took the foot off the throttle and began to coast towards the line. Making as little noise as possible I made a dash for it but he noticed and raised his game just in time to stay ahead although I reduced him to a kneeling heaving wreck. He took it with good humour, and we shook hands. That Red Bull is a competitive tipple.
Charlotte didn't drop any further places and she arrived shortly with Michael immediately behind. We all went for a warm down for probably as long as the race had taken. (I took 19.16 and was 13th or thereabouts.) The weather was changing dramatically and if I had known it was to be so pretty and sunny I would have taken a camera. Due to the assault course nature of the course I didn't carry a camera for the run.
There was excellent soup and free beer – both very welcome after all that fresh air.
The only disappointment about the day was the time it took to organise the results. In fact Dick came out after a long while (it's difficult to know just what exactly he was doing up until then) and asked the top runners to come forward and tell him their times and positions. Dick apologised but many folk couldn't hang around long enough to see the prize giving. I got first v50 and four bottles of beer. There was no shortage of beers for the winners, and lots of age group prizes. There was also a kids fun run and it was great to see everyone who took part get prizes (and a bottle of beer for their parents).
Dick announced his intention to retire from the organisation of this race. It would be great to see someone continue with the race next year – it would make sense if someone relatively local undertook the job – as it is a classic and a really great fun event bringing a bit of sunshine to this time of the year.
Many thanks to Allan Gebbie for the photos.
Full set here
Full set here