Bradford Millennium Way – full circuit

13 September 2022

aka How to run for 9 & a half hours and miss an FKT by 1 minute

I’ve never been too bothered by records and Fastest Known Times (FKTs) before. Mainly because I’ve never been anywhere near them. And running’s meant to be about process not goals, right? It’s about enjoying the scenery, the exploring, the adventure….. if faster times come your way that’s just a bonus, surely.

Still, in planning a full round of the Bradford Millennium Way over the last few weeks, I thought it would be useful to get some idea of how long it might take. Was it already too late in the year? – I don’t fancy getting the headtorch out quite yet. So, a quick look at the FKT site…. turns out a lad from Ilkley called Matthew had done 9hrs 34mins a few weeks ago. OK, so an early-enough start would give me 13 hours daylight, sounds doable. Better get a wriggle on though before those days start drawing in….

This had me at the bottom of Shipley Glen at 6.40am on Tuesday. It was a little misty but not too cold, and the forecast was great, 19-20 degrees max later on. Perfect running conditions.

I’d decided to travel clockwise, to get the fiddly sections up to Penistone Hill out of the way first, rather than having to worry about map-reading and micro-nav at the end when I’d be knackered. This helped as I didn’t set off too fast…. saying that when I finally reached the more runnable sections it felt right to push things a bit, just to keep the legs moving.

To my surprise, reached the obvious half-way point, Eastburn Stores, at 11.30 feeling pretty good. Hadn’t touched any of the grub I’d packed so just bought juice and water at the shop (the only one directly on route) and pressed on.

Could have guessed this is where the bad patch would kick in. Slowed to a walk for several miles around Silsden, just concentrating on getting the food & water down while I could. Downhills for some reason seemed particularly difficult and it was actually a relief to start the climb from Addingham up onto the moor. Things were improving… and reached the top just after 2pm, 7 and a half hours in. Felt pretty upbeat, just that familiar skirting of Ilkley Moor to go. Made the mistake of thinking about the FKT for the first time….

Cue wheels fell off a bit. Should be a lovely descent down into Ilkley but just couldn’t get things going. Got to the stream at Keighley Road, shoes & socks came off & just sat in the water until feeling returned to the legs. Shuffled along Rocky Valley and realised I’d need another boost pdq, this time a slug of Coke from the Cow & Calf cafe, just off route. The sugar & caffeine kicked in straight away which got me back up Burley Moor….. then dissolved equally quickly, so it was back to walking to the shooting cabin. The one remaining snack went in there and again was able to pick it up down to Bingley Road before really hitting a wall at the tarmac. Just over a mile to go and you’re seriously wondering if you’re going to make it round at all! Eventually, out of the woods above Shipley Glen, just that nice wide path and back down to the Coach Road left. Finally, a genuine belief that you’re going to get round, everything relaxes and miraculously a sprint finish comes from nowhere.

Back to the car, stop watch. Collapse on grass. 4.15pm – 9hrs 35mins. A minute outside the FKT. Could I have found that extra minute from somewhere? Nope, I went as fast as I could and was just glad to keep going and finish. Did it matter? No, it really had been about another memorable day’s adventure after all.


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