Spine Race 2023 - Leg 3 (Hawes to Middleton)

I set off once again into the foray at around 3am, so only about half an hour down on last year despite arriving into Hawes 2 hours later.  I felt fresh and a damn sight better than the manner in which I had arrived.  Next up is a brute of a climb - Great Shunner Fell.  Its about 5 miles long and seems to be a long old drag with lots of false summits.  In an increasing trend as we trekked further North the snow on the ground was heavier and heavier, many icy patches and plenty of drifts.  However, generally there was a well trod path in the snow, although at times I would drift off and it would then take some time to reattach myself.  The downside of only using GPS navigation and not having a watch with turn by turn guidance and alerts when straying off route.

It was up Great Shunner that I started to have my first serious sleep monsters so for the first time I downed a caffeinated gel.  I don't know whether it was a placebo effect, but it soon knocked me back into a state of consciousness and on I went.  After the ascent my feet were now in a much better place to consider some running and in the soft snow it actually made progress much easier for me.  I arrived into Thwaite just before 7am, so I knew progress had been good and for the first time I was ahead of last year.  At Keld I decided to do the additional distance to visit the village hall which they have used as a tea room for Spiners as a way to raise funds.  I had a couple of pieces of cake and a cup of tea and although they suggested £1 per item, I popped a fiver in as it was so worth it.  As I was arriving a few others were leaving, so it was interesting that those even at my end of the course were making use of the facility.  I had 15mins or so of bliss in the warm hall to myself, it was great.

Back out into the icy cold and the next section is to the famous Tan Hill Inn.  I always enjoy this section and this year had the bonus of plenty of snow.  Again, no running here even if its possible, just a nice sustainable pace as its still a distance to Middleton.  Here I was starting to get another bout of Sleep Monsters, but as I did some work colleagues who follow the race popped out to say hello.  At Tan Hill there was quite a crowd for me who all by chance had arrived at the same location!  My mum, wife and 9 month son were all there, my two work colleagues, and another colleague - Roland Kelly who I have not seen for best part of a decade but is also a Spiner turned up.  I took 10 mins or so at Tan Hill and pressed on to the infamously boggy Sleightholme Moor, which this year was a total dream to cross as it had frozen over.  I would even go as far to say that my feet stayed dry and I ran quite a bit of it.

Arriving into Tan Hill

Start of Sleightholme Moor

The running soon came to an end just as I entered a well made track/road as the energy levels just weren't there which was a bit disappointing.  From then on in to Middleton I just didn't have the energy, except for the last couple of miles into Middleton to break out into a slow run.  I arrived into CP3 at 5.45pm, some 40 mins down on last year so I must have slowed down quite a bit during the day.  I otherwise felt good, my feet had not deteriorated further and I took a 2 hour sleep, before departing at or around 10pm.  I arrived into the checkpoint in 29th (lost 6 positions during the day) and departed in 28th (although a handful of seconds behind 3 others).

Leg 3 review.


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