Hell of a Hill 2015, 5 marathons in 5 days

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Day 1

The day started with me having to fulfil my fatherly duties and take my son, Lucas to school. It was a special day for him as he was going on a 3 day outward bound trip to Robin Wood near Todmorden. I could have done without taking him on this particular day as I knew it could make me late for my marathon but as his dad I wanted to take him and I needed to help him with his case.

Day 1 at the Pike

After seeing Lucas safely into school, I dashed back to my car to get to Hell of a Hill, I knew it was going to be tight for me to make the start on time. Unluckily for me there were road works on the A6 near Blackrod which delayed me by some 20 minutes. I was sat in the traffic looking up at the Pike thinking the runners would have already set off and be nearing the Pike’s folly at the summit and I was still a couple of miles away from the start line.

Finally I reached the start in a caravan park at the foot of Rivington Pike, got my race number and 34 minutes late started after the other runners. With the stress and the adrenaline from the car journey, I was all pumped up and chased after the other runners like I was racing a 10K. At half way (4 laps in) I had an impressive time of 2 hours 17 minutes, well impressive for this course! During laps 5 and 6 the reality of this extremely tough course started hitting home and my pace dropped. For the final 2 laps all thoughts of pace and time disappeared. I kept slowing down, my foolish start was taking its toll and all I could think of was simply finishing. My stop watch time was 4 hours 56 minutes 52 seconds. Official gun time was 5 hours 29 minutes 32 seconds and 18th place out of 43.

The weather forecast hadn’t been great for the day with the threat of rain. Fortunately we didn’t see any. It was windy on the top of the Pike but very mild at 14 degrees Celsius. I was amazed that I had ran the race in only a long sleeve t-shirt, shorts and no gloves in the middle of November.

Day 2

Unofficial time from my watch 5 hours 53 minutes 41 seconds – Second slowest time ever!
Official time (as I started late again due to dropping Abbey off at school) 6 hours 1 minutes 21 seconds.
What a punishing course! This had got to be my hardest day running a marathon ever. My legs were sore from yesterday and they steadily got worse and stiffer as the day’s run progressed. It was mostly the top of my thighs and my waist from all the twisting from the downhill running over awkward, rocky and muddy terrain. Also I seemed to have picked up an injury to the back of my right knee, I had felt this start on about lap 6 the previous day. I felt totally exhausted to a point I don’t ever recall experiencing before, at times during the run I struggled to keep walking never mind running. The way I felt in the evening made me wonder how much further I could take this challenge and whether all 5 days were achievable. It was down to a good night’s sleep and see how I felt in the morning.

Day 2 HOAH 2015

Day 3
I woke up to find both my legs seriously aching. Not a good position to be in but I have been there before. The real problem was the back of my right knee. It was very sore and stiff to move. I knew there was no way I could consider running 3 more extreme marathons over the next 3 days. If it was the final day then I would have given it a go. The only thing I could do, however much I disliked the idea, was throw in the towel. This event had got the better of me, I didn’t like it but I’ll have to accept it. For the next 3 days I’ll have to just be a spectator and admire the runners who are still battling through this ever so tough challenge.

hell-of-a-hill-medals-2015

I’m so disappointed to only get 2 segments of the circle, I really did want to earn a complete set.
Good luck to those still on the quest to complete 5 in 5. Thanks to race organiser Philip, Melissa, Steve, Jue, Julie and all the other helpers. It’s a lovely, friendly well organised event, albeit ridiculously tough!

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