Did this race last year and vowed I’d never do it again. Still coming to terms with the fact that I allowed Ed to bully me into signing up again.
We parked the camper in Cartmel (the finish) on Friday night and registered. Huge thanks to Dad for the lift back! We were home by 10.30pm and up 6am to get sorted and head to Caldbeck for the start at 8.00am.
We got underway and i was so full of cold I still felt half asleep, so the first few miles ticked by quite nicely. The weather truly was superb and remained perfect all day- a huge bonus for a race like this. We made good progress up High Pike (658m), dropped down past Lingy Hut and bounced down the heather to the river crossing.
People were wading through the water, much to the amusement of more hardy runners, I got a piggy back from Ed (what’s the point in us both getting wet feet!?)
We then began the ascent of Blencathra (868m), again I got into a rhythm and kept a good pace, there was probably around double the number of entrants this year so it was quite good craic chatting to the lads going at our pace.
After cresting the summit we made our way down Halls Fell Ridge, again the conditions made this much more palatable than it could have been. After 11 miles Threkeld is the first Feed Station. I had some crisps, coke and shortbread. We replenished bottles as there is a huge, extremely challenging section before the next checkpoint.
I knew what was coming up- in my opinion the most horrendous part of the race, Clough Head (726m). This ascent is BRUTAL. It was etched into my memory from last year, it wasn’t any easier this time round, at least I didn’t cry this time.
Once that is done there is a long stretch up on the high fells hitting Calfhow Pike, passing Great Dodd and Watson’s Dodd. Then onto Stybarrow Dodd (843m), Raise (883m), Whiteside (863m), Helvellyn (949m), and Nethermost Pike (891m).
The route then descends down Dollywagon Pike to Grisedale Tarn where there is another tough ascent up Fairfield (873m). From here the route undulates over rocky terrain and every time we end up having to lower ourselves down a rock face. Ed was behind sorting some kit and I’d carried on, got to the ledge and I always struggle to drop down off it as even if I dangle off it, my feet don’t touch the ground. Luckily there was a nice guy who’d made the drop and he lifted me down- thanks mate!
Ed caught up and we pushed on to Ambleside, well stocked feed station but no sausage rolls! I’d left mine sat in the fridge at home… So I made do with hot pizza instead. We changed our socks, refilled bottles and headed on to the next section towards Finsthwaite. This race really is a race of two halves, the final 22 miles are a mix of forest trails, footpaths and road, with a few brutal climbs thrown in. There was still a decent amount of daylight left so we tried to make the most of it. Ed and I differ in that I wait until it’s almost pitch black before I reach for the head torch- i like to let my eyes adjust and sort of come to terms with entering into night time and allowing myself to disconnect with the running and dream a bit. Ed is pull out the torch at the first sign of the sunset like a quick draw…
We made it to Finsthwaite pretty over it, I was spaced out but finally, sausage rolls….warm sausage rolls as well. We left quickly and just settled into the final 8 miles, getting to the finish at around 12.30am. Now there were a few shortcuts being taken by runners (we did it by the book thanks to GPS this year) so after time penalties are given out, I think the overall results will change. Still, second time around, last time around… I’m not planning on doing this one again, twice is enough.
In reality 52.5 miles, 4000m of ascent….ish.