My fingers rest in the metal grooves of the trig point, palm upon the cool concrete, my heart hammers a staccato rhythm in my chest as I watch the town far below awaken.
I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that lighter mornings go hand in hand with an increase in the numbers of people who will be milling around. Desperately grateful dogs are finally taken out after the long darkness of winter, I swear you can hear them smiling. I’m just used to having this time as my time, I have been longing for the light for so many weeks that I’d forgotten that I’d have to share it.
So I came up with an inspired avoidance tactic, I’d run hills, more specifically I’d run the hill that overlooks the town with its trig point atop acting as a goal and turn around point. Taking the direct route, straight through the park and onto the climb out on cinder paths through a wooded section, emerging into a brutal climb through moorland fields before the flatter top section.
As I start the climb, the plan has worked and I am alone in the pre-dawn light, cinder path crunching under short strides I start to visualise the route ahead, it’s one I have walked/run many times but never managed to run the entire way. I make a mental target to get to x point before stopping to walk. I’m onto that point sooner than I thought, a spark of hope fires through my resolve could I really make it this time, my feet keep moving, everything screams as the path kicks upward even more for the final fifty odd meters to the gate, I crash short of the gate and resort to walking. So damn close.
I recover as I run onto a short road section before climbing again steeply past the train station then back onto mud trails skirting the A30 to the footbridge. Even the footbridge climbs up towards the sky, and the moorland fields beyond, but my legs although slow still move, I concentrate on the spark, that glimmer. I visualise the feel of the trig point as the gradient starts to really bite into my shredded legs, nearly at the top gate, just the last cruel kick to go. I fall short and walk to the gate, stretch my legs out as I lean into the gatepost and look towards the top of the rise, so close now.
I get moving and find a more comfortable rhythm as the gradient flattens a little, a flash of high vis bursts over the brow of the hill and tears past, greetings exchanged, and onwards only to realise a short time later that I know who the runner was, that would explain the cheerful hello which I mistook as being cheerful due to them descending rather than climbing. Almost there, just a spark, but it’s enough.
I rest my hand on the trig and watch the sky, then look to the town far below and my house tiny and distant, I am at peace, the wind batters me as I stand quietly for a moment of reflection. The run down is breakneck and in places my thighs feel as though they will never slow me enough to make a turn as the route twists back to the town and plunges to the river.
My plan worked, four point something kilometers total distance and a brutal 185m climb, if I run that for the next few weeks then I will be ready for the 5 Tors race, and only one other person in the town is mad enough to run my new training route, that gives me a few more weeks to accept that soon everyone will be out for a morning run, many may take my lonely winter routes through the woods, some may make the climb up to the view over the town, I hope all find a spark of hope inside as they do.
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around,
it keeps glowing.