What can be better than running long distances? Running long distances with other like minded people.
We started our ascent up to The Cheviot in our little group of runners. I set off at about a 6 minute mile pace for the first mile up the steep slopes, but I soon realised that the other runners were still all near the bottom and suffering badly, especially Bruce and Karl. But of course that is a load sh#t. I started the day not feeling on the best of form and had to drag my ass out of bed. There was talk of snow on the top of Cheviot but there was no way I thought it was true until we arrived at the car park along Harthope Burn. I was praying that everyone wasn’t going to go out hard on the ascent up Cheviot and was so glad when someone said they planned on taking it easy. We climbed up towards the summit of The Cheviot, into the snow and through the icy mist. It was a great feeling to be out in the hills again with the added excitement of snow. It was a long 3 miles to the summit and with the cold conditions I was not eager to hang around too long and needed to keep moving and keep warm. The air was bitter cold and with all the wrong gear and no idea, I was freezing cold. We reached a juncture and Adam departed the group to follow his course.
The frozen ground was to prove an advantage as we followed the Pennine Way past King’s Seat and along to Windy Gyle at just over 8 miles. As we got to the lower elevation and the ice disappeared, the waist deep bog became apparent. It was hard going on the cobble stones as they was icy and it was even harder trying to pull your feel out of mud with each step, but it was all great fun and the sort of terrain I enjoy the most. Along the Pennine Way, over Beefstand Hill, Lamb Hill and past the Mountain Refuge Hut. As members of the group fell over into the bog it was the age old game of ‘try and wait until you are sure they are ok before you laugh’. We skirted around Wedder Hill on the approach to the Roman Camps and at this point we all agreed that the terrain was taking its toll on us. I was feeling a lot more drained that I would normally feel at 16 miles and every mile seemed to take forever to complete. The plan was to meet our support at around 11:15 but that time was here already and we had a further 5 miles left. In the distance amongst the military firing range, which was very active, we could see two silver cars driving along like target practice. We figured we had bought ourselves a bit more time and continued on towards Byrness. After some discussion with the support crew, we all met up on the A68 where everyone started a feeding frenzy. If there is one thing we should all learn from this, it is to bring more food to eat on the hoof next time.
There was mixed feelings about the next section but I think we all were in agreements that it was lacking in something. The scenery was great but the long forestry track that we followed for 12 miles first became a drag and then became just painful. We were all showing signs of tiring and the cold was getting to us. I had one goal... this was Karl’s run, the furthest he has ran so far (although the shortest he will soon consider running in the future) and I was going to run it with him to the end. The last couple of bends in the track because a guessing game of ‘are we bloody there yet’ and ‘where is that bloody castle’, but the tell-tale signs of civilisation appeared and two shining silver cars were on the horizon. To prove it is all a mental game, Karl pushed for his trademark sprint finish and provided the evidence that he had lots left in him and could have easily finished a 50 miler that day.
After a lot of shivering I retreated into the car and we started our return journey back to Wooler. I was slightly ashamed at getting car sick and kept quiet for the return journey, just concentrating on deep breaths, that is until the rest of the occupants had to listen to me hurling out the car door (it was too cold to get out the car). I arrived back in Wooler without further incident where my family was waiting to drive smelly daddy back home for a much needed shower. A big thank you to all the runners and especially the support crew.