What with trekking across the Alps and various parental duties, this was my first attempt at running or racing in just over 6 weeks.
I’d run this race once before, way back in 2003 when I managed 1:45:02 for 10th place. I didn’t have much idea what to expect this time, so set off pretty slowly and steadily. The route follows a clockwise loop of Kentmere, with 3 checkpoints at Ill Bell, High Street and Kentmere Pike, and contains plenty of good running after the initial climb, or should do if it wasn’t so windy you could barely stand up.
Once on the ridge towards Ill Bell it was pretty windy and grey, and just before Thornwaite Crag we entered thick mist and I lost sight of the runners ahead, or at least I thought I saw them disappearing off in the wrong direction. I hesitated for a moment which was enough for Ross Litherland to catch me, who I’d last see in Nepal nearly 3 years ago on the hike out to Jiri. Anyhow, Ross seemed confident of the route so we more or less ran together to High Street.
Once descending to Nan Bield Pass it started getting ridiculously windy, making it difficult to balance and remain upright. Somehow Ross and Richard Snowden of Totley suddenly made a gap on me, and I was struggling to keep them in my sights. I tried to track them along to Kentmere Pike, but once I reached the final summit they were gone, and I had nobody to chase.
I had no firm recollection of the final descent; only a vague idea you had to branch off rightwards, however I branched far too soon when I should have been running along the obvious path beside the wall. However I still reached the stile at the fell wall before anyone caught me, despite faffing around and looking over my shoulder. Shortly afterwards the track became horribly rocky, and groups of runners came swarming past, including Dave Armstrong and Chris Reade who must have got lost in the mist, since they’d been in front earlier.
Anyhow, I somehow seemed to entirely run out of strength and coordination on the final bit of descent, and managed to lose 10 places in the space of about a minute which was slightly annoying, but I couldn’t make my feet move any faster. The only place I regained was passing Chris Reade again in the final few metres just before dropping back into the finishing field.
I ended up 25th in 1:53:18. Mark Roberts of Borrowdale, now a V50, won the race in 1:39:00 which was pretty impressive given it was almost certainly the windiest race I’ve ever done.