Penistone Hill Country Park, Sunday, 14 January, 2018.
Northowram Puma Robert Shirlaw enjoys fell running, and so once again he made the trip to Penistone Hill Country Park, near Haworth, for the thirty-fifth staging of the Stanbury Splash. This event in the past, I believe, has been hosted by the recently retired Woodheads, so it was Wharfedale Harriers who staged the event for the first time.
The race starts in the quarry at the bottom of Penistone Hill and circuits the upper reaches of Ponden Clough and Stanbury Moor. The Wharfedale Harriers website describes the route as follows: ‘Starting from the quarry bottom on Penistone, turn right onto the road and then left onto the Bronte Way track. Just past the ruins of Middle Intake Farm it turns right through a gate and down through the fields to cross Sladen Beck, the first of many times for wet feet. It’s then an inevitably muddy climb, back up the other side to reach the track continuing from Back Lane. Turn left, uphill, on a good track, to Upper Heights Farm where the route branches right on a narrow footpath to circuit Ponden Clough and passing by Ponden Kirk. On a clear day there are magnificent views down the Clough, but on a misty day it can be quite bleak. After circuiting the Clough, with several more beck crossings and even more wet feet, you will meet back with the outgoing course, when you will retake the route back towards the start. Careful as you descend back to cross Sladen Beck as it can be hard to stay upright, then climb back through the fields. Just after you pass Middle Intake farm, bear right off the track and onto the path to take the shortest way back to the finish line on the cricket pitch.’
Set for an 11.30am start, the morning wasn’t a particularly warm one, but at least the runners didn’t have to contend with snow as they did two years. The challenging course of seven and a half miles, rising 400 metres, didn’t faze Robert, as he loves this kind of thing, and he finished in 108th in 62:22. The winner was Jack Wood of Ilkley in 45:44. 309 runners et off, though four failed to finish the course.