This was my first hill race in some time. The race started in the limestone clad village of Ingleborough, Yorkshire, and climbed the well trodden footpath to the summit of Ingleborough, one of the Yorkshire three peaks, returning via the same route. A field of around 190 runners started from the field in which the village fete was taking place.
With sunny skies above, the steep climb out of the village and on to the stony footpath was slow and sweaty. I was determined not to walk and, having started toward the back, managed to pick my way past a good proportion of the field over the first half of the 5.5 km climb. As the path steepened and the first runners flew back down the smooth grassy slopes either side of the track, my pace slowed and I began to feel the bite.
It was only after a greying woman in cotton t-shirt stomped past me that I decided to react and sling-shot my way around the summit cairn and down the almost vertical grass bank leading back down the hill. Managing to stay upright as others bum-slid down or picked their way over the tussocks, I made some ground and opted to rejoin the stony path now unfurnished by runners. This required some concentration but no navigation or risk of colliding.
As the path plateaued, a female runner with local knowledge appeared from the smooth grass beside the path and I hung on to her back wheel believing that I could probably outrun her later on. I began to doubt this as we climbed a couple of times and I realised my legs were completely empty. However, I was in a determined frame-of-mind, and pipped past her and another female attacker, and once the road leading through the village was in sight, I stepped off the path to chase down a group of four men ahead. Not sure if I managed to catch them but successfully held the women off which felt like the most important thing at the time! Quite exhilarated by the descent and content with completing a hill race again.