At this stage in my “rehabilitation” Jura was always going to be a run too far. Casting around elsewhere saw that there looked like a reasonably long, and runnable, race not too far off the M6 so in a minor attempt to re-dress the balance of bodies crossing the border this weekend, took in my first fell race as an individual.
Forecast was excellent, and so it proved with sunshine for the entire race, but moderated by a thin veil of high level cloud and a 5-10 mph “cooling” westerly – well nigh perfect conditions.
A bit slow in getting organised at the start and ended up last to leave the Threlkeld cricket ground, at the back of a 117 strong field. That however was fine in light of my current fitness for a 15 mile, 4,500 footer, and I was content to try and pick off runners as we eased our way up a track, then across a bog and up what was a fairly steep, but not too long ascent to the first checkpoint at the summit of Clough Head.
The race is an out and back, and once at the top of Clough Head you could see the turning point, the peak of Hellvellyn, in the distance. It looked a fair old hike away, but although there were several “Dodds” to zig zag over, or skirt just under, depending upon whether there was a checkpoint on them or not, it was all pretty runnable, with plenty of chances for chat along the way with fellow racers or the walkers and bikers using the well trodden trails and tracks for a holiday weekend outing (think Ben Lomond on a fine day). Felt compelled to express my admiration to bikers who were walking up the occasionally rocky scree final ascents with their machines upon their shoulders – put the exertions of me and my fellow racers in perspective – and had a pleasant exchange with Keith from Keswick AC who kindly shared a couple of skliffs of his orange with me. After he suggested that I press on I did so whilst promising to share my provisions with him later in the race. After the turn I noted that he was about 10 places or so behind. Having eaten half of my banana, and drunk half of my bottle of water I left them with a marshall at one of the checkpoints on the way back with instructions for onward transmission to Keith, and was pleased to learn at the finish that they had duly made their way to him, and been appreciated .
The last quarter was a bit of a struggle with the soles feeling like they were about to blister, and the thighs threatening to cramp, but thankfully stayed just on the right side of the divide in both areas, and finished very tired, but also content with the quality of my run. The winner was a local lad from Keswick in 2:09:07 and I ended up 40th in 3:01:38, and the sole Scot to boot.
As one might imagine of a cricket club the spread of sandwiches and cakes was excellent – the tiffen was almost up to the post Goat Fell standard!. The cask Cumberland Ale carbo re-loading also went well in the evening.
Not sure if I would like to try this race in cloud or mist, but on a clear day well worth a run, with great views all around.