|Arriving at the Swart Beck checkpoint, pleased to see Stuart|
This year I learned from some of the mistakes and drove up the night before, staying on the floor in the event centre at Askham Village Hall.
I woke at six after a fairly fitful night's sleep and had a fairly leisurely preparation, chatting with Joe, Keith and Pauline, Nick Ham, Adrian Donnelly and Dale Colclough and his partner Den. The event format allows starts from seven until nine, but the first manned checkpoint, at Patterdale about 10 miles in, only opens at 9:30. I'd decided to start about quarter to eight so the checkpoint would be open and any rush of waiting runners would be gone before I got there.
|Lovely relaxing cup of tea, thank you Pauline!|
|Having a natter before the start...|
Onwards along the road into Boredale and I were nicely matched for pace and managed a good conversation until the top of the Hause where I let him run on as I felt I'd gone rather faster than I originally had intended. I dropped into the Patterdale checkpoint 50 minutes after leaving Martindale.
|Passing the SportSunday camera lady at Greenside|
|Closely followed by Adrian and Dale|
|Nice impressionist view of other competitors approaching Swart Beck|
The descent down to Stanah is marginally easier to the right and I followed a quicker runner who'd just passed me on the way down. I got to Stanah 43 minutes after leaving Swart Beck (3:23 total). At this point I'd decided to bail last year and hiked up the road to Swirls so I didn't know the rest of the route intimately.
From Stanah to Swirls the route uses the public right of way following the intake wall above the fields of Thirlspot. This is probably the most technical section of the route, mostly singletrack and with lots and lots of rocks embedded in the path. I took the opportunity to take on a bit of water and half a Go-Ahead bar, walking quite a bit of this section before dropping into Swirls car park to meet Den and a couple of other check point staff. 26 minutes from Stanah (3:49 total).
I dumped a sarnie which I guessed I wasn't going to eat with Den, took on a few bits of banana and set off on the forest road towards Dunmail. I was quickly passed by a couple of quicker guys and then made the first of two dodgy route decisions, choosing to go down the forest road and then climb up again to the end of the woods rather than use the permissive traversing path used by many of the other runners. I think this probably cost a minute or two - it gave Adrian the opportunity to catch and pass me just before the next checkpoint at Birkside Gill which I reached in 41 minutes from Swirls (4:30 total).
Immediately after the checkpoint there's a choice to either continue along the intake wall to Dunmail and then use the "gutter" path up to Grisedale Tarn, or to take a more direct line climbing up onto the brilliantly named Willie Wife Moor and contouring round into Raise Beck just below the col. I chose the latter option and it was very tough, on rough ground, and I was conscious I was moving quite slowly. Eventually I reached the beck, crossing it at the only point I could see which was safe (it was very full) and then using the path for the final couple of hundred yards up to the col. I made ehavy weather of the boggy section round the tarn and down towards Ruthwaite Lodge and finally realised something wasn't right with a lot of folk passing me. I was hungry so I ate - two more Go Aheads and a gel. This got me going again and by the flatter section of the valley I was running reasonably well again. After a minor road rage incident with (you guessed) a white van, I jogged into the Patterdale checkpoint 1:54 after leaving Birkside Gill, and 6:23 total time. The loop round Helvellyn took four and a half hours. This was easily my worst leg.
|Just after leaving Patterdale to climb to Boredale Hause|
Marie and three others with her went the high route from Martindale so I decided to try to grab a bit of ground back by using Dale's lower route again. I popped out on the path well ahead of them so stopped at a bench, drank some water and ate two thirds of a KitKat then got going again, alternately walking and running the fairly interminable section along the top of the fields above Ullswater. Eventually this starts to climb quite steeply and I hit the climb just after being passed by one of the more elite runners. He came straight back to me on the climb so I asked if he was ok and foisted the rest of my KitKat off on him. It must have worked because he got going again and passed me up by the stone circle. I was glad there were a lot of runners about as it was getting dark now and together we were able to set the right course across Moor Divock and hit the track spot on for the run in to Askham. I did most of this in company of another runner, and stayed in touch enough to find the quick way in to the finish, where Keith and Martin Stone were waiting with the final dibber and a results print out.
|Martin Stone and Keith Richards manning the finishing checkpoint with style!|
Overall I was pretty pleased with this, off very little distance work at all. My longest run since the CCC had been about 15 miles, and I've had no consistency with the long runs at all. It was a very enjoyable day out in the hills and a great learning experience as ever. Thanks to Joe and all his helpers at NAV4.
|Joe, a top event organiser, and Joe's soup, the best!|