Haworth Hobble – 10 March 2018 (By Mark George)
The Haworth Hobble or Wuthering Hike as it used to be known is a 32 mile fell run from Haworth over the moors to Todmorden, up Stoodley Pike, returning back to Haworth by way of Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.
Those of you who know me, know that I am currently deep into marathon training for this years London Marathon. You also probably know that I have been a bit obsessed with following a training plan come what may. Well, said training plan had scheduled an 18 mile weekend Long Slow Run so taking on a 32 Mile Fell run seemed a bit excessive, especially when you consider I’ve never run that far, let alone over the fells. The worry was that taking part in this event would ruin my legs and I’d need to take the next week or so to recover, thus missing an important week of marathon training.
In the end, I decided as long as I took things really slow, I should be okay and if needed could sacrifice a couple of the shorter, slower runs the almighty training plan had scheduled for the following week.
Martyn and Simon (who I’d run Rombalds Stride with a few weeks earlier) had also entered the race as a pair and agreed I could tag along. For someone as navigationally challenged as me, that was quite a relief. Plus, I managed to blag a lift from Martyn 🙂
Saturday morning dawned, well actually it hadn’t really, it was 05:15 and still pitch dark outside and my alarm was just about to go off. Dragging myself out of bed with the usual curses about why on earth would I choose to put myself through this, it was into my kit (laid out the night before) and downstairs for a bit of breakfast and a coffee before Martyn arrived just before 6am.
The weather, which I’d been keeping an eye on all week (as you do) was forecast to be in a word, wet. It’s fair to say that at that point the forecasters had got it right. There was a constant drizzle, but luckily temperatures weren’t so bad and the wind was only light. I’d take this all day long over the freezing snow we’d had the week before.
Martyn arrived bang on time and we are soon on our way to Haworth. Registration is at the school between 06:30 and 07:30. We arrive at around 07:25 and the queue snakes all the way from the school hall to the entrance doors. The queue for the toilets was even longer. Luckily the queues keep moving and in a few minutes I have my number pinned on and am ready to go. Maybe just one more toilet stop first.
Everyone files out of the school and to the top of the main cobbled street in Haworth. We then begin to walk down the rather steep hill, but quite a few people (Martyn and Simon included) seem loath to go too far down. It turns out once you get to the bottom, you turn around and run back up the hill. That’s just cruel! Grudgingly we all make our way to the bottom of the hill and no sooner have we turned around to face back up it, we are off.
The first 4 miles went by in pretty much a wet blur. The terrain was for the most part reasonable trail (albeit very muddy) which made up a little for the fact that so far it was all up hill. The rain continued to come down steadily. After 4 miles there is a bit of respite from ascending when we head down hill towards Walshaw Dean Reservoir. The next 4 miles are probably the most “runable” on the course. We follow tarmac paths and roads to the first Check Point at Widdop Reservoir. It’s 8 miles in and I’m still feeling quite strong. This Check Point has water and biscuits on offer. I help myself to a couple of biscuits and we are off again.
A steep climb follows for the next mile or so and presents an opportunity for a bit of a walk.
At this point, things begin to get a bit hazy. When you are on your feet for so long muddy, boggy, wet, uphill, and downhill (repeat what feels like indefinitely) in rolling countryside things begin to blur. Did I sink waist deep in a “puddle” before the next checkpoint or after? I’m not entirely sure.
So, the remaining 20 or so miles contained lots of steep uphill (calf busting) and downhill (quad busting) sections, pretty much all in the countryside on trails. The recent snow either still in evidence on the highest points or melting and running down hillsides in streams or just sat in huge puddles of freezing mud. Sometimes the views were stunning, at others covered in a thick mist. I do remember someone commenting on the phallic properties of Stoodley Pike as it broke through the top of the mist.
Other things of note, were the checkpoints with refreshments. One including hot dogs with mustard to suit any taste, jam doughnuts and pork pies. If I thought it couldn’t get any better than that I was mistaken. The checkpoint just before the climb upto Stoodley Pike had a choice of 3 malt whiskeys! oh and more jam doughnuts and cheese and onion pasties.
I also remember the last mile. Well you would when you can almost smell the end of a run taking in excess of 6 hours wouldn’t you? It was through a park above Haworth, I decided to see what was left in the tank. Surprisingly quite a bit it seemed as I flew past other runners gaining important places. Only kidding! well the bit about important places. You see these types of events (unless you are at the pointy end going for the win) seem to be much more about taking part, having fun, getting more than a little muddy and just enjoying being out in the fresh air, off the beaten track. They are also very friendly and you find yourself chatting to loads of people along the way.
I arrive once more back into Haworth (thankfully already at the top of the cobbles), to find quite a few supporters cheering you in over the final stretch. I had to stop here and wait for a runner I had passed a minute earlier as I had no idea which way to go. Once I had direction, it was only a minute until I was back at the school where we had registered what seemed an age earlier.
As is the norm with these events, there was yet more food available in the form of a hot meal and cup of coffee. Great way to finish a great day. Even if the pasta was probably cooked for about an hour 😉
And that was it, amazing value at £13. Martyn provided the lift home and I got to soak in a hot bath and embark on operation recovery.