White Rose Ultra 2013

On Sunday November 3rd Gary Wane left Wigan at 5.45am in the drizzle to Huddersfield for the White Rose Ultra. In his own words:

I arrived at Race HQ i.e.. a shed in a field with a pub at the end to register. By 7.15am I was back in my car with the heaters in full adding base layers as the weather was bitterly cold. After the race briefing all 71 competitors walked the half mile to that start. it was here i met a lady who informed me she was running for charity. She also starting telling me about the onsey she was wearing and after she had muttered the phrase, “I’m mad me I am,” I started to distance myself from her with visions of seeing her at the bottom of my garden staring at my house at 3am in the morning. 

Everyone lined up on the start line, or kerb as I like to call it, and at 8am the hooter went and we were off. The start was straight into a steep cobbled hill which set the tone for the first 3 miles which continued to climb for nearly 700ft. I took it easy as people dashed up the cobbles, sorting my backpack straps, putting my gloves on and looking at my map. I was going to be out a while I thought and i was held up on the narrow paths anyway. Just before the summit I was in a group of 4 or 5 runners. One stated there were stepping stones and used them to dance over the bog. However, it was when he reached the 3rd “Stone” his yelps and swearing echoed through the field ahead of me. He had been using frozen cow pats to get over the bog. I opted for shin deep mud instead. I surged past him as he panicked and wiped his feet and legs on a pack of reeds. Then we reached our first downhill.

After around 55mins I was through the 5 mile checkpoint and enjoying the scenery. On my left the Colne Valley and rolling hills, my right, the M62. The field was now starting to thin out a bit and reports of people getting lost were filtering through the field as I passed other runners and others passed me. The rain was now closing in and clouds were covering the hill tops. Checkpoint 2 came and went and along came 2 short and sharp ascents as we headed towards Marsden. I passed the Sparth reservoir and at the top of Marsden hill met checkpoint 3 in just under 3 hours. With temperature plummeting and the rain driving down, I was happy with my 5mph pace. This was allayed by our first major downhill where I managed to pass a few more competitors. Here I saw a runner ahead of me sit at a bus stop. I’m not sure if he was adding layers, had given up or just decided to cheat? As I passed him and turned right I understood. It was the biggest climb so far of the route ahead of me. 1000ft in 4.25miles. Bugger. I set to it and realised that in my enthusiasm down Marsden hill, I was on my own. As I jogged slowly past Buterly, Blakeley and Weesden Reservoirs, and a constant incline which became steeper I caught glimpses of other competitors ahead of me. The hill was a constant of false tops. As I reached a summit, another would appear ahead with a runner on it. My moral was dropping and sue to the tiredness setting in, II was getting cold and the skies were darkening. I was though gradually pulling in a group of 3 runners ahead of me. This is what kept me going. As I finally saw a Marshall’s jacket ahead of me, I knew the checkpoint was close by and I pushed on to it. I had climbed almost 900 ft in 4 miles.

The cup of tea I got at the 4th checkpoint (20miles) was the nicest I’ve ever tasted. The clouds were rolling in now and I took 5-10 minutes to get myself together, rest and eat some food. As I perked up, I noticed the drizzle was turning to sleet and asked the marshals how much more uphill there was. “Its a mile and half nice downhill for you all now,” was the reply. I’m off I though and the group I had reeled in followed me. The cars passing on the road had their lights on as it was so grey, it was only midday! One of the group said we should stick together due to the bad weather. “No chance,” i thought. Actually it was more colourful than that and on that note I decided to kick. I left them behind. It was a race after all. I got to the bottom and turned into a farmers yard where 2 bulls stood looking at me. I tiptoed past them and then headed toward the brilliantly named Blackfootmoor and then through the final checkpoint near the reservoir there. I had reached the very bottom of the Colne Valley and was perking up as I has passed 3 or 4 more competitors and was only 5 miles home. I crossed a river and then passed 26.2miles. I was an Ultra Runner again. Less than 4 miles to go.

It was then i saw it. The hill. The steepest of the course and that was it. for 3 miles my legs were screaming and I passed 2 competitors in Wellhouse resting. I had reverted to the runners trick of counting to 10 over and over again. Every time I lifted my head, the hills were still there. I saw cyclists pushing bikes up sections and my legs were wobbling. Finally I reached the top and down below saw the finish. I looked at my Garmin, 1km to go.I struggled down the cobbled, muddy track and saw the 400m to go sign. It seemed like hours until I saw the 200m to go sign. My speed increased and finally I crossed the line arms aloft as if I’d won. I hadn’t, I was 21st, However, a Lancashire lad had tamed the best Yorkshire had to offer. My time was just over 6 hours (4mins on the official time (stopwatch held at the finish line) 2mins 33 on my Garmin). I’d made it. Fantastic I thought. I sat in the shed and was offered probably the best finish food ever. A bacon butty, Rice Krispe cake and cup of tea. Another Ultra done and probably my last Ultra for a while as Team Wane gets ready for member number 3.

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