Sunday, 28 March 2010

Kipling Kaper

With my dodgy knee starting to feel less dodgy, it was time for the Kipling Kaper, a 31 mile event in the Peak District. For this event I had planned to just going for it, to just run as fast as my legs will take me (but without getting too out of breath). The event was closer to home than most so I got to get up at a later time of 6am for a change. Everything was going good until I reversed my car (still on the drive) into my neighbour’s car. I felt like such a tosser. After a quick letter through his letter box apologising, I set off in a really shitty mood. The weather did not help when I was met with rain and thick fog.

I arrived at the start with plenty of time to register, get ready and dwell on the morning’s incident. The start was more memorable than most events I have participated in recently with a mass start and I had just drove into my neighbour's car. I can now recognise a lot of the regular runners in the local events and felt sorry for Nick Ham who had to recount on his injuries over and over to everyone he talked to, although all the concern shows that he is a much liked member of this community. As we all grouped together in the car park, the sun came out and off we went.

We all set off in a big group which I positioned myself hear the front. The first hill came quickly and the group began to spread out although not by much. Everyone seemed to want to run the first hill, so I just got my head down and ran with them. We reached the top of Gun hill trig point where I could see about 6 runners in front of me and a long line behind. All the aches and pains of injuries were staying a bay so far but there was a section of downhill to tackle next. I thought I kept at a slower pace to make sure my knee did not flare up, but on reviewing the data from my watch I found I was going 5 minute miles at times which is 12 mph. A few runners when flying past me on the grassy banks and I cannot imagine what speed they were doing. At around the 3 mile mark I thought I could feel a blister on the back of my right foot which started hurting so bar I had to stop. I noticed that there was no blister there but a big purple patch. Already feeling down after redesigning my neighbours car, I was so deflated that I thought about quitting right there and walking back. On the other hand, in light of the damage I had done to the car I was going to make this run count for something and any suffering may take my mind off it. I ran on and found the pain started decreasing as the mile ticked by. We passed Abbey Green and headed due west. Before the first check point at 8.5 miles there was a long straight stretch along a disused railway line. I found myself with two other runners who were running at the same speed. We sped along the flat section and with the pain on my heel not hindering me anymore, I fell into a meditative pace dwelling on damaged cars.

After 2 miles running alongside Rudyard Reservoir, I arrival at check point 1, grabbed a couple of biscuits, and set off quickly along with the two other runners I was with previously. A new member joined the group before we left the disused railway track and headed toward Rushton Spencer. We continued onto the Dane Valley Way and along a canal feeder. Here another runner joined the group which would continue to lose a few in front and behind only to rejoin again at the next style or gate. The group passed through Danebridge before heading off through farm fields, passed Hammerton Farm, then passing a pub called the Wild Boar. This event allows for a number of different route combinations to allow for a varied distances. It was my intention to do the whole hog and coming up next was an out and back climb up a hill called Shutlingsloe, which is only 506 feet in elevation but a ‘crawling on hands and knees’ accent to get to the summit. I could see it in the distance and it looked big and steep. A number of our group asked me if I was going to do it and although I was still feeling relatively fresh, I was having concerns about pains in my knee and my right leg. As we approached the start of the 2 mile extra sightseeing tour up the hill, I had almost decided not to do it but as everyone else was heading up the hill I followed. For the next 2 miles I was regretting every extra step I had to take. It was not the extra distance but my legs were telling me that I have not done many hilly runs recently and were turning to concrete. We reached the top and nearly got blown away in strong winds before descending back to the bottom. The very last section of the detour was a steep road and right at the bottom I felt sharp stabbing pains in my abs. I could walk fine but running sent stabbing pain with every step. I was having a nightmare of a time. I damaged my neighbour’s car, got a new injury on my heel, trashed my legs going up some hill and now I am doubled over in pain. The next check point was within spitting distance and I walked it in catching the group in the hall, all on a feeding frenzy.

I decided to make it a quick stop so I could get back out and try and walk off the new pain in my abs. I shoved a load of cakes and scones in my mouth and grabbed a couple of sausage rolls to eat on the hoof. I left the group still feeding knowing they will soon catch me and leave me for dead. I walked at first and slowly started to do a run/walk until I could tolerate the pain. I was feeling so low that I just focused on forward momentum. I started along Cumberland Brook before two of the team caught me up and we ascended up to Danebower Hollow, walking the whole way. At reaching the top I was all but finished. I started running again, but at a much slower pace trying to suck my abs in to reduce the pain. The other two runners were ahead and I slowly lost sight of them. The only people I would see for the remainder of the event was three more runners who I would crawl past in the later stages. There was a bit of a downhill section next and I could see the route would take me through a valley. I managed to pick my mood up a bit and found a bit more speed, keeping to a run. I spent this time thinking about my version of 'pimp my ride' to my neighbour's car. I was getting cold and decided to put my fleece on, hoping the extra heat would reduce the pain. There was a bit of navigational error which resulted in me running randomly across fields to find the correct track, which I eventually found. On the map I could see how close the next check point was and this, along with a surface that was easier to run on, gave me enough of a boost to push on. Finally I could see the check point.

The third and last check point was in a car park and there was ample food and refreshments and a warm atmosphere. I didn’t stop long and made my way towards The Roaches. I have been rock climbing here a number of times in the past and was looking forward to running through it. Unfortunately the approach involved a big accent up through Gradback Wood, up to Roach End and up to the top of The Roaches. I walked the entire length with short jogs on any flat sections. I was starting to have a big low again and though the climb would never end. I just wanted to run and get this over with. At the top of The Roaches, it levelled off and I started to run again. It was just before the decent down from the ridge that I caught up with three other runners and after passing two, I continued along with the third. We ran through the maze of paths down to the road and I could see that it was mostly downhill to the finish. I pushed ahead in the hope that it was all going to end quicker and after a quick navigation error involving climbing up a steep hill I had just ran down, I swore my way along wet muddy fields. This was the final push and I was doing everything to keep running. The pain in my abs was becoming unbearable and my face was completely contorted as a hissed my way through endless number of gates and stiles. I was so close and the last few hundred yards I was reduced to a walk as I could not take the pain any more. I ripped my shoes off at the entrance of the finish hall and after handing in my card, made my way to the food and started shovelling it down (and what a feast there was). I could not be bothered to put my shoes back on as the effort seemed too much, so I finally walked back to the car in my socks. Only one thing left to do... go home and talk to my neighbour.

My neighbour was extremely understanding and said that everything was fine, but I still feel angry at myself. This whole experience has shown me one thing. When undertaking an endurance event, a positive outlook from the start will get you a long way after your body fails, and a negative outlook will only get you as far as your body will take you. I have physically recovered well the day after the event and now have to mentally focus on the Compton Challenge 40 mile run I have next weekend. Then there will be only 3 weeks until the Highland Fling Race which is my first none training run of the year.

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