So first off – an apology – it’s taken us too long to get around to writing this. We had planned to write a piece and post in the evening after the race itself. however sore legs and tired minds prevented anything more than a pint and dinner before an early night!
Overall – a success. Albiet a slow one.
Following a swift kit-check and the first of many chocolate flapjacks, we assembled along with the rest of the runners at the foot of the Old Dungeon Ghyll, peering up at the ominously thick clouds…
We made our way to the very back of the pack and that was pretty much where we stayed for the duration, doggedly sticking to the tail-end of the race and making sure we didn’t get dropped at any elimination checkpoints. Visibility was generally poor and we soon realised that losing the pack meant losing the course, consequentially as the cloud thickened we spent most of the race thinking we were slipping further off the pace.
We plodded up to Stickle tarn as a ‘gentle’ warm up, and picked up to running pace until the business end of Pavey Ark got a little steep. A gloriously open stretch from Thunacar Knott saw us overtake a few people and find ourselves in a comfortable pace group, who informed us they were worried we were running short on time to make the upcoming checkpoint! Sharing a look of pained determination, we pushed hard to the clipboard clad officials on a high ridge (who all were in fantastic spirits across the course and deserve a huge pat on the back). Having been informed we were close to elimination, we decided we had taken the first sector too slowly and tried to keep up our new-found higher pace, despite a few very rocky sections.
At the top of Bowfell the cloud lifted just long enough to see a string of groups across Crinkle Crags and it was a huge boost to see we were still in touch with much of the field, despite feeling very sore, and there were still a few pockets of runners behind us.
After the best part of the 300 strong pack before us, the downhill’s were slick and treacherous; particularly for my inadequate trainers. We began to regret not filming the race, as an outtakes video of my slapstick falls might have gone viral. Adrian’s prowess at technical descending was no match for me, but my dogged uphills saw us at a very well matched pace, both pushing each other through when one of us flagged a little.
Touching the road after summiting Pike of Blisco, Adrian expletively decided that he couldn’t manage another uphill, which was fortunate as I couldn’t have managed another down!
We crossed the finish line covered in mud and on a sugar high, as the last flapjack had a delayed onset. A free pasty and a slap on the back from Anthony, who had downright thrashed us by 40 minutes plus soon brought the smiles back and after the pain subsided we decided it had been the perfect first training race for the ultra.
Much was learnt, particularly about the inadequacies of our kit and our respective shortfalls in fitness or technical ability. Rumours of a few injuries on the race were confirmed shortly after, all the best to anyone involved in an incident and thanks again to the race marshalls.
We finished the 21.1km (1450m) in a by-no-means-competitive time of 4:17:24, having not gotten lost, injured or stopped for more than a backpack adjustment. Satisfied we had achieved our goals for a first time fell race, the beers tasted a little sweeter in the Brittania that evening.
The official race results can be seen here (hint… we’re very near the bottom!)