New Female Record set for 23 before Tea

Many congratulations to Angela Wilson who became the first female and the second fastest person to complete the 23 before tea challenge – a particularly notable achievement given that it was in winter and completed in the dark. Please see her own blog about the experience…………….

The challenge idea thought up by Adrian and the team at Elterwater Hostel, 23 Wainwright summits starting from and finishing at the Hostel. An opportunity for the route finders of the world to optimise the route to their liking. And if you beat the record, win a two night stay.

2022 was going to be my comeback year, and I set myself the challenge of running the Lakeland 50, unfortunately this was not to be as I caught a chest infection a couple of days before. I have a suppressed immune system following chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma approx. 10 years ago. Totally gutted I couldn’t set off, I had to recover and then aim for something else. I have put in the training so need to put it to good use.

Paul, (my husband) set up his own online coaching business “Summit Ultra Coaching” during the summer. I am one of his clients! Having never followed a training plan (and not always following this plan to the tee), I decided to give it a go and have really seen a difference in my performance.

So 7am on 2nd December, making it a winter round, Paul & I set off from the Hostel. Over to Little Langdale, Slaters Bridge, up Wetherlam, Swirl How, Grey Friar, Great Carrs, Cold Pike, Pike o’ Blisco, I thought my blog would be fairly short, as we ran in the mist for 3 hours, with not a lot to see! I had been hoping, after the cloud inversions of previous days, to have been running above the clouds, but this was not to be! We were however covering the ground well, despite the wet, greasy rock.

As we headed into Great Langdale the day improved, we ran out of the mist with a decision to make, which way up Loft Crag, traverse the wood or up the gulley. We decided on the traverse. The next 7 summits went in very quickly, over the Langdale Pikes, Thunacar Knott, High Raise, Sergeant Man. We were still covering the ground well, down to Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. Just over 7 hours in, things are looking good, and maybe, just maybe, we have a chance at the record. We started the long haul up Seat Sandal. Paul & I had done a recce of this section the previous Friday, and trotted up quite nicely. There was no trotting today! I did feel a little nauseous, but battled this and the demons in my head, telling me I could made it 20ish Before Tea, and run down the tongue back to Grasmere after Seat Sandal!

There was a lovely sunset to encourage me to the top, we were timing it perfectly for that at least. I managed to trot to the summit, pause for a photo, then straight down to Grisedale Tarn, for the final hard slog up Fairfield. The last substantial eat of the day on the climb, cheese savoury brioche roll, touched the top and “off you go, its all down hill from here”, from Paul. We had included Stone Arthur, which I had fancied doing the previous week on the recce, today I wasn’t too fussed and agreed with Lucy, Stone Arthur isn’t all that!! Paul insisted it was just a traverse to Heron Pike, in my opinion an uphill traverse! I took it steady down Nab Scar, the rocks were wet and I didn’t want an injury this far in. I am also looking for signs of support, with hints of a crew at Rydal. Eileen, Liz, Barry were at Rydal as promised. Comments on us laughing as we jogged down, my reply back, there hasn’t been much laughing for the last hour.

However we are still in with a chance of the record if we put it in. I was already of the opinion we wouldn’t beat it and I wasn’t disappointed. It was music to my ears that Paul wasn’t disappointed either. Sub 12 hours was good enough, he was proud of me. We had a magical mystery tour over Loughrigg, including a parting of company on the many trails, losing a good 3 minutes!! The promised its only 1 mile from the summit to Elterwater went in happily.

We had a welcome party back at Elterwater from Eileen, Liz and Tori. I can’t believe they gave me a congratulatory hug, I looked and smelt fairly horrific!! But what more would you expect after running 35miles, 14000+ feet of ascent, over 11hours 52mins.
A lovely sit down in front of a coal fire awaited us, with a celebratory and refreshing pint in the Britannia Inn, courtesy of Christine at the Hostel.

A massive thank you to Paul, Summit Ultra Coaching and Elterwater Hostel, for hosting my day; Liz, Barry, Eileen and Tori for making my day with support. Oh and Jodie for the good luck rainbow, which I was scared stiff of losing.

So to summarise I currently hold the ladies winter record, which I am proud to have. I have set the gauntlet for others to beat, which I am sure they will. I haven’t ruled out another attempt, some frosty, blue sky day, I may be back!