April’s #run2017 Challenge: Yorkshire Warrior (and Calderdale Hike, Cakeathon)

May 1, 2017

It’s safe to say that April’s #run2017 challenge didn’t go to plan. Originally I had intended to run the Three Peaks Fell Race, but my application was rejected due to not having significant enough fell running experience. My backup race, the Drop 50 was cancelled only a week or two before the event. The month was also plagued with random injuries that stopped me not just running, but from being able to exercise all together. It was all just a bit of a mess…

Calderdale Hike

April Fool’s, a day for celebrating hoaxes and practical jokes, also the day for my first race of the month, the 37 mile Calderdale Hike, the bigger, uglier sister of the Haworth Hobble.

It’s Wednesday, 10:25pm and I’m just about to go to bed when I happen to look over a list of races I planned to enter this year. 5 minutes later and with just 30 minutes to go before the registration cut off and I’ve entered my second fell race in just 3 weeks.

The race would be no laughing matter, even if it felt like me entering it with a significant lack of preparation was a practical joke I had played on myself. The first clue should have been the presence of a ‘Survival Bag’ on the required kit list. If that didn’t ring any alarm bells then the lack of an official route, only a ‘suggested’ one, should have.

I wasn’t quite as concerned about this race as I should have been. Sure at this point I had 50 marathons worth of experience under my belt, but road and even trail running is a different beast to fell running. The race would rely on me to completely self-navigate from checkpoint to checkpoint, me, someone who managed to get lost on an race along a canal.

Within the first mile I’d already fallen over,and dropped both my waterproofs and had very much set the tone for the rest of the day. My inexperience in this type of events showed, I was solely reliant on the GPS route I had downloaded, but only after getting lost a couple of times I realised that it didn’t follow paths and went point to point in a number of places, something I wished I realised before I wandered into a foggy quarry.

There were a couple of cut-off times for later checkpoints that we were informed of at the start, but mis-placed confidence meant that I didn’t take too much notice of them. When I approached the first of these, 31 miles in at Lumbutts Church I was completely ignorant but was a couple of minutes past the cut-off time. It was only the good nature of the organiser at the checkpoint that allowed me to continue as I was seen running in and not walking.

When I finally made it back to Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club, the scene of both the start and finish of the race, I did so by the skin of my teeth. Thirty-one minutes before the cut off time for the entire race I stumbled into the hall and finished 11 hours and 39 miles of running.

For a race that only provides a ‘suggested’ route it’s no surprise I got lost 4 times. The face that I fell over 7 times, including whilst trying to cross a stream, wasn’t really a surprise to me either. It was a race that chewed me up and spat me out. Yet, I can already see myself lining back up next year.

Watch the video

Northampton Cakeathon

The next race in April was a bit more back in my comfort zone. I had been wanting to so an SVN event for a number of years now after first seeing their epic aid stations and even better medals. When I heard that due to popular demand they were bringing one of their famous events up from the South Coast and north of the M25 they had my attention. To learn it was their Cakeathon race and would take place the day before my birthday meant I signed up straight away.

Like many of their races it was a lapped affair, where you had 6 hours to run as many 3.75 mile laps as you wanted. As I was aiming to run a marathon I would have to complete 7 laps. Naturally as it was my birthday I chose to indulge and enjoy a slice of cake on completion of each lap, after a couple of laps this proved to be a mistake as I felt like most of the time I was running I was doing so trying to not throw up.

At some point in between this race and the Calderdale Hike I seemed to have injured both my thumb and my back. Initially I put it down to sleeping funny as waking up with a bad back isn’t too uncommon, but the thumb was a mystery. It felt like I had sprained it, but unless I get up to some unusual things in my sleep I didn’t see how. It meant that any training had been put on hold whilst I recovered from these two injuries.

Full of cake and without training would have made running a marathon difficult anyway, add to that running with a suspected sprained thumb and trapped nerve in my back meant for a steady, if somewhat uncomfortable run. It sure as hell wasn’t pretty, but in all honesty I was there for the cake, running a marathon was an added bonus.

A month of injuries

A week on from the Northampton Cakeathon and the two aforementioned injuries were really starting to plague me. Each morning I would wake up in agony, barely able to get myself out of bed. Washing, eating and dressing myself were all having to be done one handed. My back and my thumb weren’t just not getting better, it felt like they were getting worse.

I went to a masseuse initially in the hope that they would be able to pinpoint where the lower back issues were coming from. 45 minutes of elbowing my glute later and the pain seemed to have been pinpointed to around my coccyx. Next up was a visit to the osteopath, who diagnosed the pain as my sacroiliac joint, gave me some exercises to do and the runner’s kiss of death, being told to rest.

A few days later and I woke up feeling like someone had smashed my thumb with a hammer, something was definitely wrong. After an out of hours visit to the walk-in doctors and I was told I had tendonitis in my thumb, given a support and once again told to rest. Two injuries that looked to derail the #run2017 challenge and two injuries that frustratingly don’t even seem to have been caused by running.

Yorkshire Warrior

Despite all this and the fact I was adamantly told not to run, I wasn’t so quick to give up on April. I had been eying up the Scimitar Lightning 12hr race for a number of days until common sense prevailed and I figured it would probably be too much too soon for my back.

I was then offered a place in the Yorkshire Warrior, a 15km obstacle race at Ripley Castle, just north of Harrogate. It was a race I had run last year, thoroughly enjoyed and for the most part found fairly easy. So I figured why not, there was the option of a 10K route if things started to hurt too much and most of the obstacles could be bypassed if I needed to.

On the day some confusion/failure on behalf of the registration meant that I wasn’t able to start at the 9am wave like intended, instead I joined the 10am one like I had mistakenly been placed in. This wasn’t too much of an issue as it allowed me more time to get ready, join the queue for the toilet and film some bits for my upcoming video.

Completing the course whilst only being able to grip with one hand and paying close attention to my back was easier than I was expecting. The only obstacle I had to avoid was the monkey bars, as there was no way that was going to happen with just one hand.

There were a number of new water obstacles this year, the plastic pontoon crossing in particular was a lot less stable than I anticipated. Any confidence I had heading up to it vanished as soon as I placed my first foot on there and begun moving as assertively as an old woman on her way to the shops on the first snow day of the year.

But, for the most part, my thumb and my back survived. In fact it wasn’t until the final obstacle when some impatience meant I slipped between two hay bales and stubbed my thumb whilst trying to get past a couple of people in front of me, that either caused me any grief. When I crossed the line I did so several minutes faster than last year, on a much tougher course and whilst only being able to use one hand for most of it.

Whilst it had its ups, all in all April was a bit of a failure. Only managing three runs, battling two injuries and having two races cancelled is the month in summary. Next month will have to get back on track, and get back on track fast for my target of running 2017 miles this year to be achieved. Thankfully May is looking to be a big, big month.

More on that later…

#run2017 – April

Total miles: 74.1
Total runs: 3
Total time: 17 hours 58 minutes
Avg. miles per day: 2.47

Miles left: 1,624

If you want to keep up to date with my #run2017 challenge and wish to sponsor me, please visit my JustGiving page.

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