Long Tour of Bradwell - Fail to prepare...

...and prepare to fail!

Unfortunately that's what I did at the LTB on saturday. I had hoped to recce the course, but just didn't have time, though having run it twice before I should have known my way! Anyway, at the start I wasn't sure how fit I was, with fairly haphazard training since the Alps, but I was looking forward to it!

Bradwell is only about 20 mins from home so I had the full support crew (Lorna and Dolly) with me at this race which was really nice. After I'd registered we wandered down to the start and caught up with Karen McDonald, as well as Dan Shrimpton and Ian Symington, who I hoped I'd be running with once we got going...
With helpful assistant before the start
We got cracking at 9ish in good weather, and I found myself at the front with Ian, Dan and a few others. It was nice to catch up with the guys and really good to be racing again! Off we went up out of the village, through the quarry (once we found the way through!) and out towards CP2 where we doubled back towards Castleton. About 4 or 5 of us had been together at the first checkpoint, but somewhere between there and the second check Ian and I had pushed on from the others, and after a while longer I got a bit ahead and ended up maybe 20m in front of Ian.

I went through CP3 in Castleton on my own and headed up out of the village on the road towards Hollins Cross feeling fantastic, I was running easily, without too much effort and almost couldn't believe I was "winning". I knew there was a long way to go though, and that I would have to concentrate around the Druid Stone to make sure I got the right line.

Off we go!
Ah, the Druid Stone, CP5. Here I basically made a MASSIVE cock-up, it was foggy and I knew I wouldn't be able to see the stone, so after passing below Ringing Roger I tried to stay on the upper path which would lead me almost to it. Unfortunately I missed it, and carried on past the stone... For a long way! I should've stopped and properly checked my map, but I panicked and frantically ran backwards and fowards along the ridgeline, getting as far as Jaggers Clough before I knew I had gone too far. Anyway, all this lost me 50 minutes on the 5:30 schedule I had been hitting up to that point, so I knew any sort of race for a position was over.

I got very angry and considered dropping out for a while, but decided to carry on and enjoyed catching up and having a quick chat to people throughout the rest of the race, including Karen and Nick Ham. Lorna and Dolly were having an epic walk and I saw them near Ladybower. After finishing I learnt (and smelled) that Dolly had spent most of the day rolling in cow pats! It was pretty hot and muggy by now, and as I crossed the bridge I saw a fellow runner lying in the river with a big grin on his face.

The climb from Bamford to Stanage Edge took a long time and I felt pretty grim as I tried to push on and run up the last climb to the edge. I had been trying to take 5 minutes out of the 50 minute defacit on each leg, and had managed this a couple of times, but this was hard on the long climb legs. By the top of Stanage I think I was 45 mins down on the schedule, still catching people but more slowly now. I did enjoy the run along the ridge though, the descent down to the checkpoint and the run along to CP13. I took the higher (left) path, which is a good runnable line and avoids the bogginess which I imagine exists in the valley.

Dog on edge
Somewhere after CP13 I caught up (to my surprise!) with Dan Shrimpton, who was also having a less than ideal day. He was off on holiday the next day so just seemed to be enjoying the running, and was running with a guy from the Royal Dragoon Guards. The three of us negotiated the tricky nav section near Upper Padley (thanks!), then I pushed on again a bit towards CP15 at Leadmill. From there the route was relatively simple to the end, with lots of runnable hills. I made sure I forced myself to run them, as now I just wanted to finish as soon as possible!

The last section of the route runs through the village of Abney, then along an edge before dropping off towards Bradwell, then through the village and to the Pavillion. Luckily I didn't have a sprint finish as I did with Kevin Perry last year and relaxed a bit on the final run in, although I was annoyed and a bit embarrassed to be 49 minutes slower than 2011!

Nevermind, it's a great route and I will be back to do it justice next year! For now though, I might have to find another race as my final qualifier for the Ultra series, but first there is the small matter of the New Balance Ultra Tour of the Peak District in a couple of weeks...

Ian won in 5:27, and Helen Skelton was the fastest lady in 6:17, congratulations to both!


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