I've not done a Lake District AL for a few years now - Duddon Long back in 2008 I think was the last time where I came 52nd in 3h44. Diary clashes / shift work for Teresa and injuries have put paid to me getting to one last year or so far this year, but made me more determined to fit one in as these Classic Long Lakes fell races really are what fell shoes were invented for. Running across high fells & windswept ridges at speed really is an invigorating feeling. And one that I'd really missed.
|Descending the Corridor Route, Wasdale over to the left|
Chris was also keen to enter and I knew how serious these AL's can get so warned him away from entering and emphasising why the FRA require previous similar race experience. To compensate, I promised him a great run on the fells, probably pushing him further than he'd been before and suggesting a route to him that would ensure he bit off a fair old chunk of lake district experience.
We both headed up Friday and kipped in the car ready for the off at 11am from Rosthwaite the next morning. After a couple of strong coffees in Costa, Keswick we headed down Borrowdale in the partial gloom parking in the fields with around 1 hour to go. Just enough time to sign on, see some of the big names hanging around and get just a little bit nervous !! The rain was only just about keeping off but after a reccie of the line up Bessy Boot - it soon started coming down again just in time for the start by Andy Schofield.
|Yes, we all ran around in a circle without|
having a bloody clue!
|Blue Race Route, with my Black gps trace showing a wobble around Combe Head!|
The route from Esk Hause to Scafell was thick in mist all the way and littered with the boulders I remembered - proving to slow everyone down substantially. I soon recognised the big col before Scafell pike summit from our recent Bob Graham exploits, so as soon as I got there I kept a look out for runners descending to my right - picking out the scree descent top. And sure enough after 50-100m, I saw the first runners heading down. A quick dib at the summit and head back down to where I saw them go and sure enough - peering over the lip looking NW I could see the infamous scree descent taking us down to the Corridor Route below.
|The Scafell scree run descent (on another, far more pleasant day!)|
From Styhead I cruised past 22 runners to move from 136th to 114th by the summit (full splits here) - but then again 8 of those had overtook me on the descent it seems ! I was apprehensive of the section from Wasdale summit to Windy gap as I remember some very tricky terrain from both mine and Saul's BGR's. Thankfully, I followed a brilliant line which I think was almost E from the summit, then NE, then N to the gap. The section to Honister was again fantastic. Clag, rain and trods - virtually all runnable. It seems I took 9 runners here, only stopping to top up water at the stream just before the slate mine. Legs felt great, so straight through and up Dale Head. After taking another 7 runners and stopping for a quick pee it was onto another section I'd not been looking forward too (ok, that's EVERY descent I'd probably not looked forward too!). From Dale Head summit it was a descent first to the tarn and then through some rocky mine workings to the finish.
Crossing the finish line in 4h16 I had had a fantastic outing in the Lake District Fells. Whats more - so had Chris - he'd loved the challenging conditions on the ridge and the long solitary descent out via Langstrath so it was win, win for us both. Wish we could have hung around but we had to get back really.
Target for next year - Sub 4 hours, Top 75 !!!
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