With a quiet period in the club race calendar Sunday gave me the opportunity for a little road trip back to my roots in East Lancashire to run in the Worsthorne moor race. Although listed on the FRA website as a BM fell race this seems to be classed locally as a trail race and having now run it I would definitely consider it the later. The race itself is 6.8 miles and forms part of the Burnley & Pendle grandprix which is now in its 30th year.
After an early night without alcohol I set off over to Burnley in plenty of time, the weather forecast was decent and I have been back in training for the last few weeks so fancied having a good attempt at this as a little test of the legs and fitness ahead of the Pendle 3 peaks race in a fortnights time. I registered quickly as the queues were still small and then went off for a mile on the road to warm up before the usual high knees, heel flicks etc. Registration was at the crooked billet pub which I have had many a swift pint in before after muddy mountain bike rides in the area. I know the village of Worsthorne quite well and having rode my bike down the old Gorple ‘road’ many times I knew what was coming in the first couple of miles of the race.
I bumped into Graham who was also running and with that we had doubled the red rose participation in the race. As we made our way to the start line it was obvious that this was going to be a quick start. With it being the B&P grandprix the field was packed with Clayton, Trawden & Barlick runners who do like their fells and trails. A quick 3-2-1 and we were off hurtling up a grassy farm field towards the gate which hadn’t been opened so the fight to scramble over it began. This delayed me slightly but I was soon over it and onto the rocky bridleway track which is known as Gorple road for a couple of steady miles of climbing out into the open moor land heading towards Gorple stones.
This first section seemed to drag on and on, it quickly had the field strung out but I was happy with how I had paced my start as I started to make my way past a few people who were struggling after the first mile. We eventually left this track and hit a lovely stretch of moorland single-track that was boggy and technical. This was the first real opportunity to open up the legs and usually levels the playing field a bit. The beauty of this type of race is there is something for everyone and it allows you to play to your strengths, I rolled my ankle a couple of times here so found myself just backing off slightly but still passed a couple of nervous looking runners who were struggling with some of the technical stuff. The track eventually brought us to Cant Clough reservoir and we hit the tarmac for a while (way too much for my liking) and here a few runners came past me on the downhill road section but I somehow kept them in my sights.
As we hit Hurstwood there was a surprise & welcome drinks station and a quick gulp and rinse & spit was needed before the next climb out towards Hurstwood reservoir. Here I found myself feeling strong as I started to reel in those runners who had gone past me on the downhill. Again this section felt a bit too much like tarmac but it eventually gave way to a bridleway and the more familiar type of rocky trail I was expecting. I steadily made my way up this climb back onto Gorple road picking off a few other runners I had kept my eye on, there was just the one Clayton vest I was struggling to keep hold of but the Trawden lad in front of me was always there for the taking as I caught up and just sat in behind him to catch my breath.
The last mile was mostly downhill back to where we started on Gorple road. I have ridden this section on my bike a lot, it changes every year due to erosion and although not the most technical it is a rocky double track trail with multiple line choices none of which are perfect. I had hung on to the Trawden vest and we had managed to tag onto the clayton lad who also happened to be called Gareth and we found ourselves in a 3-way battle towards the finish. I overdid it at first and found myself out of breath and had to back off a little, Clayton Gareth was clearly going to get the better of me but the Trawden lad wasn’t. As we hit the farm field we were pushing each other hard to the line and both managed to get passed 2 other runners in the final stretch. This was however my little race to be won and he wasn’t beating me. I love this type of terrain, the grass was a little overgrown but not too long, slightly soft underfoot with a little bounce. I relax more running on soft grass and can really let myself go with my eyes fixed firmly on the finish line. Not only did I beat that Trawden vest but I put in 7 seconds on him in the end.