My third time running the Haworth Hobble fell race wearing the Sadleworth Runners vest, and I can safely say the worse weather I’ve known or imagined. Bravo to all my fellow runners who managed to finish in what were tough conditions.
It was an early start at 5am, and a 6am pick up of Simon Jump and Stu Hutchison to then get to Haworth ready to register, get your running number, for a start at 8am. We met fellow runners from the club and all other entrants in the Haworth Primary School. The weather overcast and 5 degrees C, but no rain. At ten to eight we headed for the start on Main Street and it was raining, cold damp rain, with the wind beginning to howl. People sheltered where they could, especially under the eves of shop fronts. It was grim indeed and people mused and faffed about over kit.
The Haworth Hobble is a 32 mile ultra fell race forming a loop starting and finishing from the scenic Haworth of Bronte fame. An FRA race, popular, hard in normal weather, and to be frank a swine in bad weather.
We set off at 8am and the heavens opened horizontally with people drenched by the time we got to the Bronte Bridge along the Bronte Way, only three miles into the 32… I myself had chosen an Inov-8 shell and rued this choice when wet and cold.
It was hard running, very much so in a full head on wind that held everyone back and sapped energy for the first 16 miles of the race. By the time I reached Widdop Reservoir I had/needed to change into my more substantial OMM waterproof and was very pleased to do so. I really ran the risk of getting very cold.
The wind did not abate as Richard Mackey, Simon Jump, and I loosely ran together closely followed by Bridget Lancashire and Chris Roberts, who acted as proverbial Fell Running Rozzers in hot pursuit.
The wind brought you to a virtual standstill, rain was freezing, and loads and loads of hail. At times it was painful on the skin. My time was slower than in 2017 when running as a pair with Simon Jump and that gives a good indication as to the weather.
We pushed on and I more than once dropped back from Return of the Mack, and Jumpin Jack Flash who were both on a mission. Big thanks is due to Simon Jump for leading all the way and dragging people along. Even bigger high fives to Bridget and Chris doing their first ultra and hanging onto the older dudes.
By the time of the climb up to Heptonstall the weather changed and improved and waterproofs were ditched. In the second 16 miles of the race with the tough climbs up Stoodley Pike, Heptonstall, and Hardcastle Crags the wind had started to die down and when blowing blew us from behind in a vicious manner pushing you along in semi uncontrolled fashion. But by then we were thankful for the sun to make an appearance.
At Hardcastle Crags people were clearly knackered, it was pleasant with the sun out, but a slog and a half to the last check point up the seemingly never ending climb. Doughnut City (they always have doughnuts at the last checkpoint) was driving the Cobley on by this point.
Full PICTURES can be found in Flickr.
As we left Dought City the Rozzers caught up with us and it then became a slog fest for the last four miles climbing out of Grain Water Bridge to run up the Calder/Aire Link aiming for the Leeshaw Reservoir and Penistone Hill Country Park for the dash back to the Bronte Church and the finish. It was a good race to the finish with people digging deep and really pushing especially Bridget and Chris. The finish was achieved with no real time between myself, Richard Mackey, Simon Jump, Chris Roberts, and Bridget Lancashire; all of us glad to finish.
After a change of clothes it was grub and hot drinks to revitalise ourselves with nice friendly chat. Much wanted, much needed, much deserved.
Also out in the field of fray today were Sandrine Fraisse, Paul Taylor, and Nicky Torr; battling the elements and the course. All three made it back. Paul Taylor on arrival proceeded to try and single handedly demolish the free food, Nicky as usual was beaming and cheerful, and Sandrine was still out on the course as we left.