It was still July when I got up this morning so there was time to shoe-horn in a third race into the month and for that matter, the week. I'm not a 3-a-week sort of runner but I've fancied this one for a while and had considered it to be a wee bitty easier in gradient than Coniston. So, armed with 2 ginger nuts and the Sunday Post it was off down to Wensleydale.
Arriving in good time it was already chocka and the car park pretty full. The race HQ was in a field at the finish behind the imposing mass of greyness that is Castle Bolton. It somehow added an air of tradition and permanency to the proceedings. There were perhaps 200 at the start, some from Teesdale, Swaledale and many from other clubs but not ending in 'dale'. I decided to go with a pair of old road trainers rather than fell shoes, but it seemed many were sticking with the studs.
We started past the castle and through the village and then up a gravely track and onto the moors. The ground was firm and the gradient steady, rising for around 3km before levelling off across the heather moor ridge. After a couple of snaps (one of some interested cows), I found myself being shepherded by two Knavesmires with a lad from Otley just ahead. I passed all three between 4 and 6k and was then passed by a runner from Loftus (or a club with a maroon vest). He was running well with a long stride on the few downhill sections and he soon caught two others perhaps 30 seconds ahead.
As we began the start of the second climb up the loose gravel at around 8km, I fancied joining this select group in front but couldn't make any inroads into the gap and soon afterwards Otley runner came past having obviously had a second wind. I stuck with him for a short time but he still managed to pull out a good 15 or 20 seconds soon afterwards. The last 2 or 3 kms are on grass and it was nice to run on the sheep cropped surface instead of the gravel track.