A Traditional event in its 31st year, one that I found very inspiring (and hard on the old legs!!) Lots of ups and downs, good variety of terrain, navigation and route choice were straight forward if you kept to the main routes and the weather was great, steaming in the low lying villages and warm / breezy up higher.
I am beginning to learn that not having to carry much kit and plenty of organised food & water stops is a nice way to run an ultra. Definitely makes it easier to drink and eat 'proper food' along the way when there is variety and its 'on tap', much better than overdosing on high carb and protein food (which is a bit of a trait I have).
One thing though, it seems you cannot come to this area without someone wanting you to run up to (well OK - walk up!!) Stoodley Pike Monument - this time after 30 miles !!. A real sadistic twist, especially for a guy from the fens, at least it gives the legs a well earned rest and a chance to refuel on the move.
All the fastest guys were missing from this event, saving themselves for next weekends Highland Fling / Scottish Ultra Trail Championships which explains how I managed to come 4th.(outstanding for me) How could this be ? as I know there were more people in front of me at the start. I had forgotten that as well as a 36 mile race there is a 27 mile race starting at the same time and somewhere on the route our courses split - no idea where that happened !!
There is also an option just to walk the route in teams of four, they certainly had a good day for it, and definitely have a different approach to the event, much calmer, relaxed, always time to stop and admire the view, even let the runners 'push in' to get their checkpoint card stamped - makes me wonder if rushing past, head down, watching where I have to put my feet is the best way to appreciate such great scenery - leave that for another day !
Anyway back to the route, definitely a 'must do at least once event', good facilities at start and finish (cricket club) and even a 'proposed route map on show' which definitely helped some of the route choices (Long Causeway to Holme Chapel...). I could imagine that crossing Midgley Moor to Keighley Road could be quite tricky in the mist and rain,thankfully none of that rubbish on the day - blue skies and great visibility.
It is the hilliest course I have seen and to honest quite intimidating when you listen to locals talk about this climb and that hill ! Best advice I can give is copy the proposed route and just go for it! I think lots of planning is overated - I favour a 'just run and see 'approach, I like surprises along the way - keeps things interesting.
The refreshment stations and checkpoints along the route are armed as ever with good humoured helpful volunteers who offer words of encouragement as well as the occasional 'that way' directional commentary. Well worth a day out.