Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tigger Torr Fell Race

Big scary brother of the Tiger's todger, the Tigger Torr race is mooted as the first fell race of the season.  Whilst I don't really have a fell running "season" it's nice to do a race at the start of the year when my hopes for the year ahead are running high.

This year it's been snowy so the course was changed to a shorter less aggressive course.  It doesn't matter to me.  I don't remember where I've been anyway.

My warm up consisted of a lie-in, deciding whether to run or not considering how tired I was and then packing my car, hunting for my special insoles (not found) and driving quite fast around Sheffield to park a long way from the course and running up with a sweaty fist of money hoping registration was still open.

It worked although I still felt a bit sluggish from the get-go seeing a lot of people pass me along the first road section.  Once the bog hit I improved, running with bad technique lady and Gunnie.

I spent most of the race with my head down unfortunately, watching where my feet were going.  You had to get behind the right person if you wanted to draft someone out of the wind.  Pick the wrong guy and you were likely to trip over him as he fell down in front.  Eventually I settled on someone with a good eye for bog hopping and was occasionally able to look up at the snowy edges set out before us.  It was smashing under a bright blue sky.

We plunged down to the brook and the lady in front of me stepped into the stream up to her thighs.  She hauled herself out the other side.  I thought I'd clear it with my long legs but as I went to leap over her first step, I ended up standing right where she had been.  Another step to the opposite bank then a huge step out.  The marshalls were wrapping up the first victim of the day.

We ran over Higger Torr - the peaks that everyone will see jutting out of the moorland on my wedding breakfast pictures.  For a moment I thought I'd lost everyone as we plunged on to the next tor and down to the bridge at Burbage Moor.

(c) Paul Foot
The next part reigned hell down on my already cold feet.  For 12 minutes we ran along the footpath which runs along the bottom of Burbage Edge.  We splashed and sploshed and I suddenly got slower and slower as my legs started to get tired from the constant battering and the fact that after 6 hard miles of slush, mud and snow I'd now reached the limit of my running performance.  Of course, running on the flat I didn't actually get slower, just slower compared to everyone else.

When we set off back over to Whirlow, above Fox house I felt like something was going chronically wrong.  Having read Jill in Alaska too often, I knew what this was - Frostbite.  It wasn't just that I couldn't feel my feet, they had actually, genuinely disapeared.  I progressed through the horrible itchy pain that comes with very very cold feet that feel like slabs of steak on the end of my legs to feeling that they were just fine and completely non-existent.  Must be OK because they don't hurt anymore.  As I tried to continue to run on the stumps left at the end of my legs I realised it was dangerous.  I could no longer lift my feet to set them down.  They slithered left and right and my body lunged fore and aft trying to redress the balance.  My frost bite had chosen to kick in when I was most vulnerable - in the iciest spot on the course.

The chap next to me fell on his ass and slid.  I got out of the way, deciding that if there was a time to stop and put on a wind proof, this was it.  I didn't need it on my body but it might just tip my core temperature enough to send blood to my toes.  I desperately needed to increase my heart rate too.  I had to ignore everything that my body was telling me about pain and make it hurt more.

As I put my coat on I shouted up the hill to the oncomers, "take it easy it's really icy".  Obviously a lot of people thought I was just being a bit paranoid as one after the other they stacked it.  A few looked up as if to say, "you could've warned me how bad it was".  It's how I would've felt.

I asked the marshalls to go to the top of the slope to stop anyone getting hurt.

Off the hell slide, I finally reached the path to the finishline and hammered it.  I was so pleased to see Lynn and Darrell cheering me on full of enthusiasm.  I took enough time to say, "Either my feet have thawed or I've got... (damn couldn't think of the word) frostbite!" I yelled as I raced off down the trail.

Splat!  The man in front of me went down and yeowelled in pain, putting his hand up like a footballer waiting for the stretcher.  I waved back at the marshal who had seen me steadying him, telling him not to get up. "I've dislocated my knee cap" he said.  I was really glad he was wearing baggy leggings as I couldn't quite make it out but he did seem to be wiggling his patella around inside his clothes.

Then CLUNK! he was OK again.  Clicked back in.  Me and the guy next to us set off on our way, leaving the marshal to help the guy hobble to his feet.  We went hell for leather, determined not to be passed by a man running on only one good kneecap.

Then there it was, the mushy field we'd run through earlier.  The last painful 400m of road.  The finish line.  Feet positively burning I crossed the line grinning and headed back to the car to give away some old running shoes.

Good news, 8.8 miles done all without my proper insoles and whilst my legs are tired, not a glimmer of long-lasting pain anywhere.  FTW.

1 comment:

Jill Homer said...

Harrowing tale! Glad you made it through with all of your toes in tact. I'm also a bit envious of your fell running opportunities. Such events are not commonplace in the states.