Stick with your plan says Mike. I shift painfully in my seat and concur. This was my first foray for a while and the signs were encouraging.
Comical, I say to myself as I fall onto the broken wall near Blake Rigg before the hazardous descent to Blea Tarn. Embarrassing even and hard to describe. Slipping on a loose stone I’ve somehow got myself into a supplicant’s position and am unable to get myself out of it. Head on the ground and backside in the air can be upsetting for spectators in the wrong circumstances. This is two thirds the way round the route and there are runners queuing behind patiently waiting for me to extricate myself. With my nose two inches from the ground I say Go round Me. Its alight Mate, we’ll wait; says one. It seems an age before I right myself with great effort; sorry, I mumble; no problem, you okay, says the Ambleside runner.
Launching into the descent I stumble on another loose rock and twist to keep my balance; my ribs grate against each other and leave me gasping in pain. Holding my left side I gingerly make my way to the bottom and think about sacking it before the Lingmoor climb.
But Leigh Warby is there so I can’t and I automatically follow him upwards; I find there’s less jiggling ascending so less pain.
I’d stalked Leigh since Wetherlam knowing he knows every blade on this course and sure enough he took some reet good lines; lines I can’t hope to repeat even now so shortly after the event. There’s a bit of low cloud but not enough to shake me off and of course the bright orange of his vest is a tiny giveaway; discuss. Past The Stone he realises I’m stalking him and allows me to pass and of course I immediately miss the left bearing so he shouts directions from behind to get me back on course. Okay Leigh, now listen, you’re not on; me getting lost and going a’wandering is like Laurel and Hardy or gin and tonic or sausage and marmalade; they just go together – right.
Anyway, back to the chase, my clubmate is some 150 yards ahead at the summit of Lingmoor and I need to keep him in sight, mainly because I’m in danger of going wrong here too. I carry my ribs and try to run in a smoother more controlled fashion, doing just enough to keep tabs on him. Sure enough, we go into the descent perfectly. A few overtake but, happily, I’m reeling Leigh in a smidge. By the time of the second kissing gate I’m right behind him, a look of surprise crosses his brow. Memories of past eyeballs out finishes between us flicker across my mind, and his. He lets me lead across the field; you’re a natural he yells before we hit the road finish, I turn around to look and he comes storming past to take the honours. Heh, heh, nice one Leigh, a finish with a certain karma.
What else happens; loads of people get lost at the danger points of Great Carrs, Blisco and Lingmoor in spite of the good weather. I see quite a few doing a Duncan E and ending up coming down the road from the wrong direction; Jules from Lonsdale being one.
Mark Chip just pips Mike J who just edges Mark I who has a belter. Chris B is not too far off that bunch either. Huw states he has the best round on this, his bogey race, that he’s ever had. Daz F’s good form is now a given and he outdoes all the Bowlanders. Mick Green of Horwich pulls out within 10 minutes due to some indefinable affliction, poor blighter.
The ever humble and all round top bloke Rhys Findlay-Robinson wins by a distance; well done Rhys.
And well done Selwyn, great as always – organised and compered with care and class.
Two pasties and two cups of tea, don’t tell Selwyn, and a hobble back to the car and a vibrant discussion with Mike on training by heart rate round off a return to the arena.
22nd August – 25th August 2014
I have been asked to write a report on my challenge to run along the traditional ‘Wainwright’ route, from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire. This is a part way marked route of 192 miles (309 Km) that is normally walked in 10 to 14 days. I decided that in order to run the route, in my target of 4 days, it would mean I had to achieve 4 consecutive Ultra Marathons of between 46 and 50 miles per day.
Why would I want to do this? I have done a number of challenges, in the past, including the ultimate for many fell runners, The Bob Graham Round (this is 42 named peaks in the Lake District in 24 hours). On completion of that challenge I was asked, “What next”? I had no idea at that time, but I knew that the next one I did would be for charity. I, therefore, decided to divide the sponsorship money between two local charities that I have previously supported – The North West Air Ambulance and the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team.
I like to do my homework before a challenge, so back in January I bought the Harvey’s maps of the route (West – St Bees to Keld and East – Keld to Robin Hood’s Bay). I have also read a number of reports/blogs and photo diaries on the web, I read Matt Beardshall’s ‘Coast to Coast, A Life on the Run’, book and studied Julia Bradbury’s Coast to Coast DVD’s. During the week before my challenge I checked the Wainwright society website http://www.wainwright.org.uk/ where I learned that there were 2 diversions in place that that would add approx a mile each to my route (making it 194 miles or 312 Km).
The weather forecast was changeable during the week before and looked to remain the same for the following week!
Thursday 21st August – Gosforth
Today was simply a matter of getting to Cumbria without the car. Two trains and I was at Seascale railway station being picked up by friends, Ben and Amy, who then took me to their house in Gosforth. The plan was to eat with them and get a lift to the start in St Bees in the morning, but it turned out far better than that. Amy’s parents came over with family friends and we had a good old chat. Soon after they left we went to the local pub, The Lion and Lamb, for a few games of Pool and a couple of beers. I am not sure what the locals thought of me in my running gear (I had to travel in the kit I was going to run in the following day)! Then Danielle (Garstang Running Club) and Toby came over and joined us for more Pool and then back to Ben and Amy’s for a lovely meal. All too soon it was time to break up the party and settle down for the night and, surprisingly, I fell asleep easily!
Friday 22nd August – St Bees to Patterdale
After a quick breakfast, Ben and Amy drove me to the beach at St Bees for the start. There are 2 traditions associated with the C2C: one is to select a pebble and carry it to the sea in RHB and the other is dipping your toes in the sea before you begin. So, these done, we had a few photos and I set off at 08:10am (a few minutes later than planned but it didn’t really matter)! The odd thing about this West to East route is the fact that you start off by running further West around St Bees Head. This is a lovely part of the run and I was cheered along by seabirds and sheep (just me and nature, life doesn’t get better…..)! After the lighthouse the route turns inland and we say goodbye to the coast.
It wasn’t long before I was running into the village of Cleator (33 minutes ahead of my schedule) which is where I had to make the first diversion. (The normal route was out of action for some water pipe work). My route took a different bridge and re-joined the main route at ‘Black How’.
The first notable hill on the route is Dent; from here you can see Black Coombe and Sellafield to the south, the coast to the West and Scotland to the North. At the summit of Dent there was a cairn that had an England flag on it. I asked a couple of other runners if they would take my photo here (new Facebook profile pic)! The weather at this point was already starting to get a bit warm for me!
Now it was a fast run down to the hidden gem, ‘Nannycatch’, a small valley that takes you towards Ennerdale Bridge. This time I made no mistakes and quickly made it to the road, down to the village and onwards to Ennerdale Water itself. The shoreline is a mix of scrambles over rocky outcrops and tree roots that destroy any notion of fast and efficient movement. Heading down the shoreline deeper into Ennerdale you can nearly always see the vast shadow of Pillar looming (far left of the picture below).
The value of my reccie came into play as I reached the end of the lake and this time I got it right! I cut left on the track and crossed the river Liza just before the Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre. Then a long and boring section through the forest trail to the Black Sail hut, straight onto, what Julia Bradbury states on her DVD, “is arguably the steepest ¼ mile on the whole crossing”. As I looked up from near the bottom of the climb, I saw a silhouette of what could have been Ian France (Bowland Fellrunners), who was running in from the Honister Slate Mines with some food and drink supplies, but when I reached the top he was nowhere to be seen… I settled down to finish what drink I had, and wait to see if the person I had noticed returned. Sure enough, after a minute or two, Ian came back from the crag opposite, explaining that he had seen this figure below but dismissed it as a much younger man (cheeky) so went to see if he could see me coming down the valley. Apparently, he mistook my buff for a full head of dark hair, plus the fact that I was over an hour early (you’re forgiven Ian)! After taking on the new stock of fluid, and eating the pasta pot he had brought, we ran off under Grey Knotts to Honister and without stopping we continued through to Seatoller and Rosthwaite, where my wife (Sue) and kids (Harry and Jodie) were waiting at the Scafell Hotel. This was a proper refuel stop and an opportunity to get rid of surplus stuff. Sue had a brew ready and Harry refilled my bottles. Ian decided to run a bit further then return to his car later. Just beyond Stonethwaite Ian turned and made his way back to his car. I continued up Greenup Edge to Flour Gill and down Far Easedale Gill to meet Sue again in the layby on the A591 just north of Grasmere. Another quick drink and a couple of sandwiches, then I was away on the last leg for the day (I really enjoyed the reccie of this section a couple of months ago). This time though it was quite different! It is a bit of a slog up Tongue Gill to Grisedale Tarn but the run down the other side was both fast and technical (rough). I was also to be a little slower due to a massive downpour of rain just after the tarn around Ruthwaite Lodge and it lasted until just before the road at Patterdale where Sue was waiting for me in the car park.
I stopped the clock at 19:28 having completed day one in 11 hours 18 mins (19 mins inside my estimate for the day).
The first night was spent at the excellent Greenbank Farm B&B, Patterdale (Tel 01768 482292).
Just as we reached the B&B, friends Gabby and Mark were just arriving, they would be my extra support through day 2 and half of day 3. After a shower and some stretching I emerged ready for tea which was at the White Lion just down the road in Patterdale.
Saturday 23rd August – Patterdale to Keld
At breakfast, I was asked was asked about my run by the couple on the next table. They were also doing the Wainwright Coast to Coast at a much more reasonable pace (11 days). After discussing my run and reasons for it, they very kindly gave me a £10 donation. Sue dropped me back off where I finished the night before, in the car park at the Patterdale Hotel. The start this morning was bang on schedule 08.00.
This section is a great one. After the initial climb you are rewarded with stunning views across Angle Tarn. Continuing along the path past Satura Crag (and the herd of Red Deer), past The Knott onto the highest point of the C2C, Kidsty Pike (below).
Again, the weather was being kind. I now had a hot and sticky run down to the shore of Haweswater and onwards to Burnbanks. I stopped for a quick Coke at Tim’s honesty box at Naddle Bridge. Before very long I was running along the main road in Shap to meet up with Sue, the Kids, Gabby, Mark, Paul from work, and his wife Kirsty. A fairly quick pit stop and top up then on to Orton. This was reccied as part of the recent “3 Rings of Shap” race (62 mile LDWA event held a few weeks earlier) so navigation was very easy. I was 40 minutes up at the next refuel stop on the car park and caught the support crew unawares. Next stop was Kirkby Stephen, via Smardale Bridge. Here we had a very short but hard hail storm and a bit later I made a small navigational error, coming off the fell into the small hamlet of Smardale. I had two choices here, either return to the path and take the correct route back off the fell or detour a bit round the road. I decided the road would be better as if the path was easy to see, I would have already seen it! I was soon on track (or rather under it) as the path goes under the railway on its way to Kirkby Stephen. On arrival, I was met by the parrots making a right racket on the main street! I made it to the car park just ahead of schedule. Again, the same old routine was followed eat, drink, bottles filled and then on my way. This next section was to be the longest of the day taking me over Nine Standards Rigg and on to Keld (the halfway point).
Looking at the map there are a number of seasonal variations to the route across from the Nine Standards to Keld (this is to minimise erosion of the peat bog and ground nesting birds). The next couple of hours were pure hell. You would have thought training on the Bowland fells would have prepared me for this, but no, there was deep black bog, thigh deep sphagnum moss and ankle breaking tussock grass. Somewhere in there, I also managed to get bitten three times on the right leg, just above the ankle (more of that later)! Eventually, after running, wading and struggling for what seemed like eternity I reached the North – South valley of Whitsundale Beck. I thought it would be a short hop and I would be at the road, but I must have been further north than I thought so I pressed on because it would be dark soon. Eventually the path got better and I arrived at the Ravenseat café. Time was ticking by so I picked up speed when I hit the road to Keld and I arrived at the campsite bang on schedule at 20:22 (12 hours 22 mins). Sue and Gabby were waiting with a bit of a surprise for me here as, despite me booking in to the campsite months ago, my support team had moved me to the Rukin’s Campsite further down the road (the first site was full but The Rukin’s site could accommodate the camper and better still, the owners had given me permission to camp for free due to the charitable nature of my visit). Sue and the kids returned home after I had had my shower and left me to dine on Pasta alla Gabby and beers provided by Mark. Cheers guys!
Sunday 24th August – Keld to Osmotherley
After breakfast I walked back to where I had finished the night before with Mark and Tully the dog. We started the clock at 08.04 then walked all the way back to the overnight campsite and I said farewell until Reeth. Soon I was running along the River Swale and climbing into the disused Lead mines that this area is famous for; then past Crackpot Hall into Swinner Gill (a spectacular gully carved out by a small tributary to the Swale and of course the mining industry). Several relics of this bygone age are scattered around, bits of old tractor and winch machinery as well as the smelting mills. The climb out of Swinner Gill takes you to a plateau and across to an easy to miss path down to High Gorton. I crossed the river and climbed the other side behind the ruins to a signpost that pointed up a narrow gully call Bunton Hush. This short section was like climbing a sand dune, my new trail shoes struggling to find any grip.
After reaching the top I had a quick confidence check on the compass and then found the track taking me all the way across this desolate lunar landscape to Surrender Bridge. After crossing the road at the bridge there was a marked change in the landscape; now we had grass – ah bliss! Before long, I was dropping off the hillside into Reeth. It was about here that I started noticing pain in my right shin area – it was inflamed and swollen. I couldn’t recall hurting it, so got Gabby to have a quick look. There were three small bite marks and I thought maybe I had picked up some sort of infection in the bog the night before. On the upside, however, Gabby and Mark gave me another donation of £20 from the campers in the van next to them at Keld!
Next stop would be the largest town on the Coast to Coast, Richmond, but before then there was Marrick, with its Priory, Marske with its Hall and miles of the River Swale to enjoy. With the sun out again it would be a great day to take it easy and enjoy the area. It was too hot for me though! Richmond would be the last food stop for Gabby and Mark and time for the baton (food bag and camping gear) to be passed to my Dad and his partner, Carole. I didn’t spend long here, just time to fill the bottles and down a few egg sandwiches. Thanks Gabby! Keen to get cracking, I thanked the crew and disappeared out of the car park the way I had come in. Down to the river and away towards Catterick Bridge and the second formal detour. My route was to take me over the A1 re-joining the path by the Swale just next to the racecourse. This was the last time I would see the Swale as from here we were into farms and roads, loads of them….
At Bolton on Swale (no, you can’t see the river), I could see another figure with my Dad. I was surprised to see that Mick Cottam (Garstang Running Club’s ‘long distance specialist’) was joining me already. Mick had run from the campsite at Osmotherley, about 18 miles away, only to turn around and then run back with me. He could have gone further but decided that as there were a number of possible route choices he would stay put! It was just another short stop as my clock was ticking. Farm, fields filled with wheat and corn and roads were to make up pretty much the rest of the day except for another short stop in Danby Wiske (2 minutes up on schedule).
After this quick stop, where despite my best efforts, I could not eat the pasta pot, we had to endure more roads and even more field edges. I just wanted the day to end, I wasn’t tired, just bored! Eventually we had a bit of potential excitement as we had to cross the infamous A19 at Ingleby Arncliffe and then into Ingleby Cross. After crossing another main road, the A172, we climbed through the woods to join the Cleveland Way. We stopped the clock at 19:40 (11 hours 36 mins) (39 mins inside the day’s schedule).
From there we walked to the Cote Ghyll campsite. My Dad had booked us in and advised us that the Youth Hostel café would be closing soon so I had better get a very quick shower. Then off to get some much needed food, a big plate of Lasagne and chips (although it was a step too far with the chips)! There then followed a really poor night’s sleep due to the sound of the river just outside the tent and my ankle was really painful as the swelling appeared to be restricting movement now.
Monday 25th August – Osmotherley to Robin Hood’s Bay
Just 47 miles left to go! No serious injuries and no dramas so far, but, no adventure is complete unless there is a drama! Oh, wait a minute, where are my running shoes? DRAMA! I had quickly put them in the back of my Dad’s car while I ran off to the shower the previous evening. I had got no signal at the tent so had to climb up the hill towards the main road. Eventually there was a signal, I made the call, no answer, and so I left a text. Then it felt like a long and agonising wait (although only actually about 2 or 3 minutes) before he responded. Brilliant, we were back on! Time to get breakfast sorted and the tents stowed in Mick’s car for picking up later. Dad arrived at 7.20am so we had an extra few minutes to make sure that any kit needed for the end of the journey was packed with him. This left us a few minutes more to get back to the day’s start point. We arrived at 07.45 so set off early. This first section was 9 miles and followed the Cleveland Way, the majority of which was purple heather covered ridge running. Again the sun was out but it was a bit breezy on the tops. After one short sharp descent to Lord Stones Mick and I could smell bacon! That was it, a few minutes were spent here downing a bacon barm and a cup of tea which gave us a boost! It wasn’t far now to Clay Bank and the first planned stop of the day (a couple of minutes down on the schedule). Again, Dad and Carole sorted the provisions and we were soon on our way. Another climb away from the road and up onto the moors. This section was the longest one on the whole route at 18 miles. Most of the route is good gravel and looks like a disused railway line sitting about 15 feet above the moorland. The path contours around numerous gullies carved out by streams and eventually there is a short narrow path that takes you to the Lion Inn (often used by Coast to Coasters for accommodation); we just grabbed a glass of lemonade and carried on round Rosedale Head onto Glaisedale Moor and into Glaisedale itself. My Dad and Carole had been for a brew at the Glaisedale Tea Garden and, on saying what they were doing; the owners then gave them a donation of £5.00. Next was quite a short section to Grosmont (famous for the steam engines and railway station used in ‘Heartbeat’). As we ran along the road we could hear a steam engine and wondered if we would be held up. Just around the corner we got the answer as the level crossing barrier was down.
Just through the crossing we came to another steep road climb and the last pit stop. Bottles filled etc. we set off for the last leg of 15 miles. Again, it was a steady climb up the road and the wind was blowing against us. I thought I felt a few spots of rain but it didn’t amount to anything. I really had the desire to complete the run inside 48 hours but felt sure that the pace needed picking up to be certain. I had been running a bit then walking a bit for ages and felt sure I wouldn’t make it. Mick kept telling me not to worry about the time as it was an achievement to complete it in 4 days. After an age on roads and frequent sightings of the sea and Whitby Abbey, it now started to feel close. Then Mr Wainwright decided he hadn’t had enough and we turned South at Littlebeck and headed down to the Falling Foss Waterfalls and other off-the-beaten track beauty spots. More farm land and moorland and then we approached Hawkser. At this point Whitby stops being the centre of attention and we head straight for the coast down past the caravan sites to the coastal path. 3 Miles to go and soon we can see the inlet of Robin Hood’s Bay. I put the map away at this point as all we had to do now was keep the sea on our left. If you have ever been to Robin Hood’s Bay you will know that it lies at the bottom of a very narrow and STEEP road. This hurts… a lot! Anyway, Mick backs off a bit and allows me to run straight into the sea which is the 1st tradition at the end of a C2C! Dad and Carole and few total strangers cheered and applauded me in. I am sure a few folk wondered why this guy had just run straight into the sea and didn’t want to get out! It felt sooo good, my feet loved it….. !!
The clock was stopped at 19:34 (11 minutes up on schedule; but because I started 15 minutes early the net result was 4 minutes down).
I still had the 2nd tradition to take care of so I dug the small pebble from St Bees out of my pocket and threw it into the surf.
My Dad then went and got the car to save us from the climb back out of the village and took us straight to the pub on the edge of town where I had a pint of ….’Wainwright’ (what else)?
After collating all my times for the 4 days, I had completed the 194 mile crossing in 47 hours and 5 minutes (including the 2 miles of diversions). I am happy with that!!
Clearly with any adventure or challenge there are many people that need to be thanked:
- Ben Seed and Amy Fisher
- Ian France
- Sue, Harry and Jodie
- Gabby, Mark and Tully
- Dad and Carole
- Mick Cottam
- Paul and Kirsty Yates for coming out to support
- Ahmed Rawat and Neil Dutton (Sponsorship coordinators)
- Greenbank Farm B&B (Patterdale)
- The couple at breakfast at B&B (Donation)
- Rukin’s Campsite in Keld (Free camping)
- The campers in the next van on the Rukin’s site (Donation)
- Cote Ghyll Campsite (Osmotherley)
- The owners of Glaisedale Tea Gardens (Donation)
- All my friends, family and colleagues that have sponsored me
A few Bowlanders have taken an interest in the English champs races this year. 2 of them have taken place in the last month, Kentmere and Sedbergh Hills.
I was pleased to overcome a tendonitis problem in time for Kentmere. It had came on acutely at the end of the LAMM in June, and I was also relieved to get an entry having not entered back in February. At least substitutions were allowed on the sport ident website. Even with this allowance, out of 600 entries only 364 ran on the day.
The race itself was one of extreme contrasts. I have rarely been so hot and sweaty climbing at the start of a race alongside so many others. Once up high temperatures eased a little. Coming off Kentmere, the final checkpoint the rain started and continued such that by the finish I was actually quite cold. I would not have believed that as I ascended early in the race. Post race conviviality was severely curtailed as everyone realised an urgent need to get their car off the parking field or risk needing a tow.
Results for Bowland included Chris Reade 85th and 9th MV50, Nick Hewitt 8th MV60, John Taylor 5th MV65 and myself 5th LV50. In all 8 Bowlanders turned out.
As for Sedbergh, Chris R had not entered so will not manage a long race this season. Nick was ill but he ran at Ennerdale which will count for him. Again 8 Bowlanders made it to the start line. Conditions were in marked contrast to last year with many opting to start wearing cags while others set off in just a vest. Wet and windy sums up the day. I found conditions particularly slippy on contouring sections and the steep descents. Indeed I struggled all the way round. Not so for Dan Clark though who came in 50th in a time of 2h 32. Graham was not far behind in 2h 35. Well done to them. Other notable results were Sarah Massey 3h 13 and John Taylor again 5th MV65. Well done to all who finished.
Great to have support from Saira and Jo. I think I would rather be racing than hanging around on a day like that so grateful thinks to them.
After several months of training we finally got to go and do the Lakeland 50 last weekend. Our only plan was to go steady and finish, whatever happens.
Soon as I had finished work on Friday, the van was rammed full of our gear and we set off to Coniston. We made decent time to the school, so managed to pitch the tent and get a couple of beers before the 100 runners headed out. Watching them head off through Coniston for their first of 2 nights running, made us realise that our goal for the last year was here at last. It was truly inspirational watching them start their journey.
Once they had all gone through and our beer was finished, we headed off to get weighed, our kit checked and complete our registration. This was a super smooth operation and went without hitch. From here we went to the chippy for our tea and then settled ourselves at the tent for an evening of relaxation and anticipation.
I can honestly say at no point was I nervous, my total belief that Angela and I had prepared well, made me totally resolute to the fact we would finish without problem. If I was doing the hundred, I would probably have been shitting myself!
Morning arrived with very little sleep had and a long wait in the breakfast line to look forward too! Before we had time to blink we had scoffed our bacon butties, done the mandatory toilet visits and had got our seats on the coach that was taking us to Dalemain. The drive went by in a flash as well and before we knew it, we where stood on the fields at Dalemain, getting excited for the off.
The hundred runners slowly passed through as we waited to dib in the start pen, the applause they got really got the atmosphere buzzing. I couldn’t wait to get running now. Like demented sheep we dibbed in on our way toward the start line, shortly after, our journey really began.
The first 4 miles are a section of rolling fields through the estate before you cross the road and head down to the River Eamont. This flat cool section brought us to Pooley Bridge, we could here crowds cheering long before we ran through the car park and over the bridge.
Easy running through Pooley Bridge brought us uphill to get on the trail to Howtown, this was our first planned walk area. The last bit of road and first part of the track are a bit steep for running on a 50 miler, for us at least! Before long we had trotted along and could enjoy the views of Ullswater, as we slowly plodded our way to Howtown.
The sun was absolutely scorching and I think I had sweat out more fluids than I was carrying! At the checkpoint we both had plenty to drink, topped up bottles and I had a bit of food. No need to stay very long here as we had only covered 11 miles or so. We headed back up the road we had just come from and then took a trail through the boiling cauldron that is Fusedale.
We have done this section a couple of times on recce runs, so had a plan of attack and stuck to it, seems everyone else had the same plan! Run the flat, semi-flat and then walk uphill. This worked a treat and we had got to High Kop with no issues other than sweating gallons. We enjoyed the grassy running over to Low Kop and started to keep alert for the disused mine and a little cairn that signalled our descent on a grassy trod down to Haweswater.
Happily tootling along behind lots of other people, I noticed the cairn out of the corner of my eye, so we tracked back to the path and started the nice descent, followed now by lots of people who realised we knew the route. I think most of these followed us from there to the finish, ha!
Rocky and undulating is a good description for the path round Haweswater, also absolutely boiling as there wasn’t a breath of wind. It felt forever until we reached the checkpoint at Mardale Head and by this point I had again drained both my bottles and was absolutely gasping for a drink.
Bottles filled, lots of drinks had and some butties from the checkpoint and we headed up the long rocky drag that is Gatesgarth Pass. I was feeling a lot frustrated by this point. I couldn’t get used to sharing the trails with hundreds of people, some would go past and then go slower than I was travelling. It got annoying when you are on miles of single track trail at a time.
The pass gave us a wide trail so we managed to get in a little gap and I relaxed again, for a while. I do tend to get easily stressed! The heat was slowly beginning to calm a little as it approached evening, so running became a lot more comfortable as we really got a nice pace going through Longsleddale. I really quite enjoyed this section, it was nicely broken up and Angela and I ran it just as we had planned in training. So far, we really did run exactly as we had planned, apart from sections of single track, where the person in front of you dictated the pace.
Once we reached Sadgill, the temperature felt great and we had stopped consuming quite as much fluid. The climb over to Kentmere soon came and went and the long awaited pasta meal was in my greedy possession. It was bloody lovely and went down a treat, so did the smoothy, coke and more butties. I am so greedy!
Angela always struggles to eat on a run but was trying hard to get nutrition down. She had managed butties ok earlier but couldn’t manage much of the pasta. A sign of things to come! Fortunately she is used to running marathons on a couple of jelly babies, so I was pretty confident she would keep going ok.
I had not been looking forward to climbing up the rocky Garburn Pass and neither of us particularly enjoyed it. It was a long, slow trudge up there and a good few people strolled passed us. We again just kept steady as we had agreed and soon had
levelled out and started to scoot down the Garburn Road to Troutbeck.
We had a great section from Troutbeck, I think both of us hit a really good spell where the running became pretty effortless, for a short time. After the walk up and out of the village we enjoyed the run through Skelghyll Woods and down the leafy lanes. When the road levelled out and we started to head into Ambleside, Angela set off like a rocket! We both agreed that if we felt good, we may as well use it while it lasts!
The cheers of support in Ambleside really gave us a big boost and reminded us of what an achievement running 50 miles actually is. With talking so often to people who run Ultras regularly, it has become a normal part of conversations to talk about large mileage runs. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I think we forget quite what an effort goes into it and what an achievement it is for a couple of 43 year olds! All these people applauding our efforts kind of brought it home to me, we do something a miniscule percentage of the population do.
We rushed into the checkpoint pretty giddy and I once again got stuck into butties and coke, while my bottles got filled again! Angela in her excitement gulped down a couple of large cups of coke, these immediately did not settle well.
As we headed over the shoulder of Loughrigg, Angela’s stomach felt pretty grotty and she began to feel sick. It also started to go dark rather quickly, as a band of rain quickly headed in. It was lovely refreshing drizzle as we headed down to Skelwith Bridge but as we neared Elterwater it became heavy so coats had to go on. Our shirts where wet but as it had been warm all day, we didn’t worry too much about our body temperatures.
The run to the Chapel Stile was a little slower than usual, you would have thought we had about 40 miles in our legs or something! At the checkpoint we had a sit down in the hope that Angela’s stomach might improve with a little rest. I wolfed down some lovely hot stew and more coke while Angela managed to force a mouthful of hot tea down. We got our head torches on and set off into the now dark, damp night.
Within 50 yards I suddenly felt very cold and started to shiver so violently that I couldn’t run in a straight line. Not waiting to slip into a hypothermic state, we stripped off our wet tops and popped on our lovely dry extra layers. We got running immediately to try and warm up, this worked a trick and before long, the rain had stopped and our hoods had been pulled back down.
The zig zag path around the back of the National Trust campasite in Great Langdale was soon put to bed and we trotted round Blea Tarn. It was slow and slippy going, picking the path around the high ground above Blea Moss in the bracken and gloom. It wasn’t helped by someone behind keep going on about a boulder we should have seen by now, we had passed it a couple of hundred yards ago! I bit my lip and just cracked on to the unmanned dibber on the Wrynose Pass road.
We jogged down to the little bridge and headed on the track toward Tilberthwaite, our last checkpoint of the day. Once the rocky up and over was done, we had a quick pit stop and then rallied ourselves for the last climb.
The steps out of Tilberthwaite are not welcomed by many, so it was a nice touch to see them lit up by lanterns. it took my mind of their severe steepness. We ambled up and over the fell, keeping the beck on our right. The final descent was seriously hard work on tired legs in the dark. Steady as we go again here, it really wouldn’t be the place to fall and DNF!
After what seemed like a lifetime we hit the old miners track and ran down into the village, feeling very elated at the fact that Team Colby had managed the Lakeland 50 and without even having an argument! Ha!
We dibbed in at the school gates to a round of applause and then we where announced into the school hall to a fantastic ovation. It really was moving and made the experience even more enriching. These people who sat clapping us actually knew what it felt like to do this, all of us had become kindred spirits through this experience.
We got our t-shirts, medals and an immediate print out of our times, then stood about in a bit of a euphoric daze before we decided to head to the tent for cider. we couldn’t face the meal provided and really just wanted to get off our feet.
3 cans of cider each later, we got a bit of sleep! Next morning was breakfast, tent down and home, back to reality, sadly!
It was great to see some friendly faces on route, they really did uplift us. Support can mean so much when you are feeling knackered. The checkpoints also gave you great assistance in a wonderful calm manner.
Thinking of the event afterwards I would say my word of choice would have been “frustrated”. I am not used to sharing the route with so many people, it had been just Angela and I for the previous 9 months! That is of course just a very selfish response.
The word I would use now is “awesome”. It is the most amazingly organised race I have ever done, the checkpoints are like big banquets with fantastic helpful people at them. The whole organisation form start to finish was as smooth as silk. Parking, camping and checking in all went by smoothly, there was absolutely nothing I could say against this wonderful event.
Our training definitely worked well, we both got round fine and have felt good post event. Our only injuries are a blister each. We expected to get round between 12 and 15 hours and did it in 14.19, so are perfectly happy with that.
Hopefully we will manage to get entered again next year, just the 50 again for now!
Next up for us is a holiday to Rhodes to help us relax a little, before we do the St Begas Ultra 35 at the end of August. Gluttons for punishment us Colby’s!
News is filtering through from the Celtic fringe that Bowland’s very own
Steve Sweeney (V50) was outright winner of the Sprint ( 50km aggregate )
distance at the Gaelforce North adventure race in Co. Donegal, in a time
of 2:26:19, beating the 2nd placed competitor (a V40) by over 4 minutes.
There are not many pure mountain races in the NW corner of the Emerald
Isle but plenty of composite events that usually include a couple of
running legs, a cycling leg and a kayaking leg.
This event was pretty much on Steve’s home turf and included an ascent /
descent of his local hill, Mt. Errigal.
Saturday June 19th 2014 – a humid, wet day for Ingleborough Fell Race. 5 intrepid Bowlanders launched themselves at the cakes on offer in ‘Frumenty and Fluffin’ as part of their pre-race carb loading.
Shaun’s efforts clearly paid off – finishing 1st out of the 5 runners, closely followed by Rachel. However, being towards the end of the pack Ann, Ruth and Emma spotted the more sprightly Bowland figures of Mark Chippendale, Sam Harrison and Ian Charters descending at speed whilst they were still toiling onwards and upward towards the rain-shrouded summit of Ingleborough. Sadly, no pictures of the post-race tea and cake in Ingleton Community Centre – too busy scoffing!
Photo’s here … Ingleton Cakes