Crossroads Inn, Wainstalls
A stunning road and trail run around the Luddenden valley near Halifax that took place on 10/07/21. The event was organised by Craggrunner, who put on a variety of different races over the course of the year, including the popular Aldermans Ascent. The Stocks Lane Stinger ran as a virtual event last year and this was its debut as an in person event. This first iteration of the in person event was slightly longer than the virtual event route.
Registration and the post race food and presentation took place at the Crossroads Inn in Wainstalls. The Landlord and Lady had been kind enough to accommodate the event, putting on chip butties for £2 a go after the race and allowing the beer garden to be used for the presentation. The registration process was smooth and directions to the start area were clear. This was not a closed road event.
A 10.7km course starting in Wainstalls at the top of the Stocks Lane ascent. The route heads down Wainstalls lane away from the village and off into the beautiful Luddenden valley. The route continues along this road all the way to the end of the valley where it then turns and becomes a track that takes you along the other side of the valley. The track turns into road again for a spell before the marshalls directed us down towards the trail that would take us along Luddenden Brook, into the village of Luddenden and to the beginning of the ascent up Stocks Lane.
Up to this point the race had covered just over 8km and is had been a net downhill course with some small ascents. From the bottom of Stocks Lane to the finish was roughly 2km and aside from the bit of track bringing us back into the finish all of that was uphill. Stocks Lane averages an 11% grade with the steepest section offering a gruelling 17% grade. Strava rates it as a category 3 climb. This was indeed as brutal as it sounded, particularly right at the end of the race.
A nice mix of road and trail with gorgeous scenery to accompany you the whole way. The net downhill of the first 8ishkm allows you to really take in the views, with the grotesque climb at the end offering up a fantastic challenge that will easily push most runners out of their comfort zone.
The race went well for me. I placed in the slower half of the field, coming 36/53 with a time of 01:00:54, but placings are not what I’m focusing on at present. I had a plan going in that I would try and stay as close to 5:00/km as I could for the first 8km, then I would just see what I had left in the tank for the hill, preferably aiming to run the whole hill.
I did pretty much stick to this plan, which I was very pleased with. I have a habit of going out way too fast at the start of races or even just training runs, so I was happy that I managed to check my ego, ignore the people overtaking me and just stick to my planned pace range. At the moment my goal is to get a feel for racing again, learn to control my ego and make sure that I don’t burn myself out too early on in any race effort.
Unfortunately, I did experience issues with a stitch around 4km in, which concerned me. I did worry that I might end up having to DNF as the stitch had appeared so early and they can be really painful. Thankfully the painful spell did not last long and I managed to run through it. It didn’t disappear completely but it did reduce to a dull ache, which meant I could get my pace back up. The short period of significant pain did mean that my pace slowed for 1km, which was a bit frustrating, but I stuck to my plan and just kept within my pace range once the pain had subsided. I didn’t try to make the time back. This was the right call for this particular effort.
I did put everything I had left in the tank into the hill and managed to run up most of it, switching to a power hike two or three times for short bursts. I did, somehow, manage to find some pace when the course levelled back out again for the finish but I did stagger across the finish line feeling very close to vomiting. Thankfully I bounced back quickly and felt amazing within about twenty minutes of finishing the race.
Amusingly, this race included my third fastest ever 10km segment, so I am now intrigued as to what my flat 10km race effort time would be.
Lots of takeaways from this race. I’m very happy with my current level of fitness and pleased with the base I’m building. With continued strength training and starting to introduce some structured speedwork I think I could make some significant improvements in my pace over shorter distances. I won’t focus too much on that for this year though as the Round Rotherham 50 miler is my primary goal.
A fabulous event, pretty keen to have this one in my calendar again for next year.