A confident arrival for us, kindly driven in Oscar’s fabled Phaeton, ploughing through the steep drifts, where many’s a ditched car attended being dug out by their Master.
Through beautiful, old, stony villages, climbing up to Haworth school. Already the walkers setting off, looking up excitedly at the hills, ‘ have you got your cheese sandwich Ann?’ – happy chatter.
Into the hall, 500 starters, so well organised by the brilliant race director, Gary Chapman, wonderful KCAC club and buzzy Haworth Primary School. A special thanks to Gary for providing us thorough and inspiring updates in advance, particularly when the snowy weather set in – he assured us how beautiful it would be, how much easier it would be now that the snow would fill in the rock crevices and how snow stone had been left unturned on taking care of our safety and brilliant nourishment throughout, via he and his brilliant team.
Our 2 cars full of excited and nervous Harriers gathered for almighty faffery on the school stage. Are you wearing your jacket? Shall I wear my fleece? What food have you got? In, out, shakings of various items, stuffing back in – once all set (after quite some time), off to get our bacon rolls – half an hour til the start? Excited school children happily pouring Nescafe, stirring the sugar purposefully.
A number of happy photos outside and then gathering at the start line – a real buzz of energy – will we get trampled standing here? Of course not?
The Alpine horn sounded
Off up the hill to a lot of cheering in the beautiful old town – straight up and into the blue sky, snow and hills. A long line of people, the sun shone down, temperature rose – Ski Sunday after your bath? Trying to keep up with the person in front, to not disrupt the flow of traffic – comforted to see the other harriers around.
Further up into the hill and the path opened out to a stunning view down to the reservoir. The first of many thin gunnels to follow – like moon craters on either side, all of us slaloming down in a line, breathing in the gorgeous, fresh, sunny air and admiring the view in snatches, in between reviewing the brain to foot connection.
Past a still, crystalline reservoir – through Checkpoint 1, the cheerful helpers had run in along the closed road – thank you! Onwards and up to a beautiful old coaching house – I wondered if this is where Jane Eyre may have traversed before being rescued by St John. God help her without trail shoes?
Further up through the snow and hitting a road climb with snowy firs on either side. Happy camaraderie here with everyman and their waist-pack battling their own struggle, but together?
Lovely encouragement from runners to walkers and vice versa through the woods and into stunning old Heptonstall. Whiskey and chip butties for all and sun dried.
Back up through slushy puddles and heavy drifts – are you as tired as I am but keeping going? I think you look like it too – phew? I will follow you for a while, then you, then you – thank you for your kind backs and stealthy steps – drifting in and out of a game of black and white drafts.
On to an out and back – impressed with all of those on the other side, happy smiles of camaraderie to each other – this is really tough but by God we’re doing it!
Arrival at a buzzy, steamy checkpoint – tinned frankfurters and boiled onions in wet rolls from happy, kind helpers. We got this now, of course we do? Only 4 miles to go!
Sloshing down a slushy descent – thank you red t-shirt man – great slaloming to follow.
Up a long road hill – but it was only 1.5 miles now – the gent in front confirmed it – we could definitely do it! People now starting to speed up in anticipation – we are doing it, we will do it! Everyone looked the same around – tired and pushing through it and now down into the town – half a mile to go, only 2 circuits of the track by Christ? Through the buzzy village – like a ski resort with people drinking steamy hot chocolates as we stumbled past – definitely everything in the hot dog can now – there is the school and there are clapping harriers?
So happy to run into the school and thrust the dibber into the final pot hole.
‘Would you like some pizza?’ – I’ll come back and see you in 2 mins love?
All of us back in, salty, raspy, happy – freezing feet – thank goodness it was reduced folks from 30miles to 20 we laughed – but then with a slight twinkle in our snow blinded eyes, we knew we would have pushed on to 30?
Relaxing in the busy pub after, we looked out at ‘Ye Old Sweet Shoppe’ with the snow now blowing around outside, I wondered if this is what Charlotte Bronte might have looked upon all of those years ago and if Mr Rochester’s horse that started the chain of events had slipped on cobbles like these ‘Do I not look hideous Jane?’ ‘No Sir, you look wonderful – come run with me in these beautiful hills for a while’?
6th Allen Bunyan
58th Andrew Sutton
92nd Kathleen O’Donnell
110th Barrie Thomason
119th Laura Telford
130th Ruth Gamwell
187th Oscar Trevena
219th Bernard McCarron
Author: Kathleen O’Donnell