The day after my run up to Alcomden Stones in a snowstorm I did another run! This time it was with my mate Steve for a recce of the Coiners fell race which takes place in May. I arrived at Mytholmroyd Community Centre just as it turned 11:00am and Steve was already there. The traffic is bad at the moment with the flood defences and there are queues of traffic most days. I ran to the toilet as usual, put my pack and set off. At this point I didn’t know we were doing a recce of the Coiners or where it started. I just knew we were heading up to Stoodley Pike and so I set off on the route I knew. Halfway across a muddy field Steve told me we were doing Coiners, so I let him lead and show me the route.
We weren’t off course, we’d just missed a field and soon we were climbing up a steep, muddy trail through some woods to Erringdon Moor. At the edge of the moor the climb flattened out and we were running through cold water and bog as is usual for me at this time of year. I was feeling strong and I wasn’t far behind Steve who is a much faster runner than me. We got onto the path that leads to Stoodley Pike and I still felt good. This surprised me as I’d had two tough runs and I thought this might be one run too any but at this point it wasn’t. Stoodley Pike was steadily looming ever closer a giant monolith that dominates the Calder Valley landscape.
We went through the final gate and I found some energy and sprinted up to Stoodley Pike against a headwind. This is a Strava segment and I had come close to getting my best time on it a couple of months ago and decided that today was the day I was going to beat it even if I had tired legs and was running into a headwind. I felt strong going up towards Stoodley and then just as it was within reach my legs went. I had nothing left but being so close I kept pushing harder and harder until finally I reached Stoodley Pike and could catch my breath. Steve had sensibly gone at his own pace and arrived 30 seconds or so after me. We did the customary selfie at the top and set off back to Mytholmroyd and it was very cold and windy at the top.
I had wrongly assumed that we would be going back the way we had come but I was very wrong. Steve went right over a stile and through some woods on a trail that was ankle deep in ice cold water and mud. And then my legs went. two days of hard running and the sprint up to Stoodley had taken everything out of me and I had nothing left in my legs. I had no choice but to carry on though. Across more cold, muddy fields until we hit a road where the Coiners cottages are and I thought ‘at last’, ‘downhill to Mytholmroyd’. Wrong again. Instead of going right towards the road Steve turned left towards more cold, muddy fields.
We followed a trail around the edge of Erringdon Moor on the opposite side to where we had come up and I was struggling more and more. I was slipping and making mistakes and getting slower and slower. Steve was flying now dancing over the mud and having to wait for me which is something I don’t like people to have to do. I kept going and soon we were on the final downhill. This was really tricky for me with loose rock and tree roots ready to trip me up, so I was extra careful as I didn’t want to fall and injury myself so close to the finish. At last we hit tarmac and I could run confidently again knowing my chances of falling were greatly reduced.
It had been a great run along a new route with stunning views across the Calder Valley and I had learnt to never assume you are going where you think you are because quite often you might not be. It was still worth it though for the experience and knowing that a couple of days rest would benefit my legs and I would come back stronger and better than before.