Report and photos from Andy Russell:
Tour of Pendle: Saturday 23rd November 2013
Having been off the fells for a month or two I decided it was time to get back out for a good leg stretch. I decided to register for the Tour of Pendle in Lancashire, a 27km/16.8 mile AL race across Pendle Hill and its surrounding moors. Despite Pendle Hill being a modest 558m in elevation the ‘tour’ takes in an impressive 1473m / 4833ft of climb arranged in five progressively sharper climbs separated by easier gradient boggy tracks. Checking through the list of pre-entries it seems that I was only NFR in this race this year.
The weather on the day at the race start in Barley was ‘crisp’ and sunny, with little or no wind. The overnight sub-zero temperatures were certainly welcome in freezing-up sections of otherwise very clarty terrain. The strategy for this race seems to be to take it easy for the first half and keep something in reserve for the final three sharp hills. Mindful of this I set off in my usual starting position at the back of the field. After a couple of km running past the Ogden Reservoirs we headed north to begin a steady ascent of Pendle Hill ‘Big End’ after which a fast route took us in a south westerly direction for about 5km to the Nick of Pendle.
From here the race contours before a moderate climb onto Spence Moor followed by the descent of the legendary ‘Geronimo’ hill into Ogden Clough (think of cheese rolling competitions). I made the Ogden Clough 2hr cut-off with a 25 minute margin and was feeling in good form. The next few km involved a bit of steady ascent to Badger Wells Hill followed by a satisfying long fast descent across Apronfull Hill to check point 5.
From here the route involved a series of steep ascents and descents, albeit with great views of the surrounding landscape, until the final gruelling climb up Pendle Hill from the north. Once I got my legs working again on the top of Pendle Hill I enjoyed a steady canter down the track across Barley Moor and Boar Clough to the last checkpoint back in Ogden Clough. The last couple of km on the road down past the reservoirs to the finish line in Barley seemed to go on a bit but I managed to trundle on, completing the race in 4:06:23, outside last years’ time of 4:05:00 but well within my 2011 time when the wheels came off my wagon so to speak due to the scourge of double leg cramp! Many thanks go to Kieran Carr and his army of marshalls and helpers for a superbly organised race and for including a Tour of Pendle running top within the £7 registration fee.
more photos of the race