I’m sitting on a train… terrified…
I’m on the way back to Elterwater; normally I’d be excited, impatient for a pint at the Britannia, a decent hike up and down a fell or two, a home cooked meal at the Hostel and maybe a short run over to Little Langdale and the caves there.
Instead, I’m preparing for the Langdale Horseshoe fell race, my head is swimming; have I brought the right kit (hopefully), am I fit enough (no), have we been stupid to sign up (probably, yes).
We took over Elterwater Hostel in November last year, and ever since then, I have been grabbing at any opportunity to escape the city and play around in the hills, almost always in the company of my friend Will.
Will and I have been friends since University, and have shared many crazy adventures together. This one started like so many of the others:
“We should try a longer run”, says one of us…“Yeah, like a fell race”, replies the other…
At this point, I think we both imagined the 21km’s in the hills tomorrow would be the culmination of this little running adventure we had in mind. However, as these things do, the idea grew, and we sent each other suggestions of longer and longer races, only ever half-joking.
Then, one particularly miserable Wednesday afternoon in the office, I was uploading events to the What’s On? page of our website, and came across the Ultimate Trails, 110km in a Day Challenge. I forwarded the page onto Will, the conversation went something like this:
“the 55km is full… 110km in 24 hours… too much?”
Almost immediately, the inevitable rebuke from Will:
“We’d have to average 3mphto do it… including the elevation and the dark orienteering”
I jump on that:
“Was that a yes?”
“Just shy of a year to train…. Are we seriously going to try?”
“I’m keen – what a good target to aim for, and what an excuse to go big in the lakes…. Would have to be a pact between us to not compete on the race – you and me vs the clock”
And with that, in a moment of rashness I will probably regret for a long, long time, I signed up, there and then… and sent my entry confirmation across to Will… who soon after sent over his confirmation email, accommpanied by the single line: “I hate you”.
And, here we are… tomorrow’s 21km now merely a warm up, fact finding, “little run” on the road to our big challenge in June next year.
I was all set to write a protest piece detailing my somewhat reserved response to yet another of Adrian’s schemes, but upon reading my emails back it seems I sounded regrettably positive about the whole idea. Must remember to use more expletives in future.
Still, Adrian made a convincing argument that there are worse ways to go than on a cold mountainside with just his Lycra-clad legs for company, so here we are.
Tomorrow’s modest 21km and 3 fells does indeed mark the start of our long road to peak fitness (read: insanity). To give ourselves a little credit, we are both fairly ‘keen’ runners – depending on pints consumed and deadlines met we probably both average up to 25km a week. Last Sunday I managed to pant through the Great Scottish run in a modest time, boosting my confidence that endurance running isn’t all that hard really, on tarmac, in daylight, with intravenous Lucozade and a deluge of terrifying, kilted supporters.
Visions of men with 0.5% body fat are disturbing my peaceful Trans-Pennine journey to the hostel this evening. I too share Adrian’s mild terror at being thoroughly outclassed tomorrow afternoon on the hills.
If you’re enjoying a peaceful Lakeland hike in the morning and spot a tall, damp blonde man pushing his friend into a tarn, carry on with your day – he undoubtedly deserves it.
260 days to go.