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Ladybower 50

Feed the Warrior’s Ladybower 50 race scores high on headbanging quality! Three races are on offer, consisting of laps of Ladybower (5 miles) and Ladybower plus Derwent & Howden Reservoirs (15 miles). So everyone starts with the 5 mile lap and then you can either do 1, 2 or 3 laps of the whole thing to add up to 20, 35 or 50 miles – ingenious!

There’s a gazebo at Registration where you can leave food and drink as you pass this point 3 times on the 50 mile race. But parking is en route very close by so I just used my car. I could run with a small bumbag but had coffee, wraps & cake at 20 & 35 miles!

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Pipeline bridge across the top of Ladybower. Photo courtesy of Jemma Ann

We started at 8am for the 50 miler, the 35 & 20 milers at 15 min intervals behind us. The route headed down to the Ashopton Viaduct on a nice undulating forest track and back up the E side of the reservoir on a minor road. Where the track forks, a marshal sends you back to the Start (blue arrow) and you repeat that lap but the 2nd time continue round the whole reservoir. This was quite nerve-wracking as you run 10 miles but feel you haven’t really started on the race proper!

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The 1st 5 miles took me 50 mins carrying no water and I did a quick bumbag swap at the car for my bumbag that holds a 500ml bottle right way up (but chafes!!). So round the bottom of the lake again but this time taking the right fork to go round Derwent Reservoir and Howden with its fearsome arms. It was great to finally start on this leg as I felt I was getting proper miles under my belt at last, even tho I’d already done 10 miles. It was also the prettier part of the route, especially the upper part by Slippery Stones – I promised myself a family picnic there next year!

The big bay on the top left looked enormous as I swang into it but it was cleared in 15 mins then it was mainly downhill to sustenance in the car….

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That 15 mile lap took just under 2 1/2 hours, so I was thinking 3 hours for the next one and 3 1/2 for the final one, maybe stopping to take some photos. In fact I did both laps in 3 hours, bringing my finish time to 9hrs 18. Got a bit of a boost on the 3rd lap from the thought that I wouldn’t have to run it again as it was beginning to feel like a very pretty version of purgatory!!!

There was a great cheer at the Finish, then – bliss – deckchairs, Red Bull and chips.

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I asked on the race’s Facebook page if anyone knew the amount of climb and Stephanie had run round with a GPS and got 4050 ft! This seems like a lot, so I’m hankering to do a 50 mile canal race (probably Glasgow-Edinburgh again in the spring) to see if a flat course gives a faster time. I must say it was a real pleasure doing a 50 miler without stiles, electric fences, stampeding cattle or navigation issues!! Add the benefits of great scenery, support & organisation … still not sure if I’ll do it again next year tho!

Result at: http://www.enduranceevents.co.uk/ladybower-50/

This is a friendly race in our home town so we do it most years. It’s 18 miles and 2116ft up, first, The Chevin and then Alport Heights, coming back thru Shining Cliff with a sting-in-the calves climb!

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This year it took me 2hr 59 but I’ve done it 12 mins faster a couple of times. There are 4 water stations with jelly babies and food for sale at the rugby Club afterwards. I’m not going to write anything more, just didn’t want to lose the map and altitude profile! (The course is run clockwise)

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Dovedale Dipper 2013

The ‘DDD’ is a 26.5 mile (3800ft of ascent) race for runners and walkers starting and finishing in Hartington in the White Peak. It’s organised – very well – by Matlock Rotary Club and has been going for many years although this is the first time Dave and I have done it.

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Route shown in red. Black line is part of the White Peak Marathon route. The DDD goes anticlockwise from Hartington – which is about half way up the eastern side of the red

We started at 10am, an hour after the walkers. There were about 100 runners and the climb out of town and onto the Tissington Trail wasn’t too bad. Got to the 1st checkpoint at Sparklow (5.1 miles) in 50 mins for squash and biscuits. There was a bit of a rain storm on the way to CP2 at Longnor (8.7 miles, 90 mins).

The route is signed in places but not everywhere so you do need a map – especially on the 2nd half where there aren’t so many walkers. After Longnor there was a nice flat bit along the upper Manifold, then into Staffordshire for CP3 at Revidge (12.6 miles, 2h 10 mins).

Revidge is the spike just after 2 hrs

Revidge is the spike just after 2 hrs

There was a welcome descent into Warslow before the steepest climb of the day up Ecton Hill. CP4 was at Wetton and CP5, the southern tip of the route, at Castern Hall (19.5 miles). From here there was a greasy descent down a limestone track into Milldale and CP6 in Dovedale (22.5 miles). Here I learnt that Dave was 20 mins ahead of me – it helps having an unusual surname!

I trotted up the dale, ticking of the meanders on my map and wondering if I could finish in under 5 hours. There was a climb up to Reynards Lane at the end, but a good finish running down the lane into Hartington where Dave was cheering me home. Yes, I made 4h 59 mins 🙂 The first man did 3hr 25 and the first woman 4hr 22!

At the village hall we had coffee, baked potato with chilli and tinned peaches – amazingly refreshing! I’d recommend this as a v friendly and well organised race and great value at £13. There are plenty of checkpoints which meant that I didn’t need to carry water. Dave finished in 4hrs 45 and we were both pleased with our times.

Dig Deep Races offer 4 different races out into the Peak, all starting from Whirlow Hall Farm on the western edge of Sheffield. I upgraded from the 30 mile ‘Intro Ultra’ to the 60 miler (different course) 3 weeks before the race, not knowing we’d get a heatwave!

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1st half of the UTPD – the 2nd half is Win Hill, Kinder and Hollins Cross, then back to the Start via Bradwell and Bamford

I quit at 31 miles but thought I’d write it up anyway as it’s a good challenge!

I drove up a few days before the race with Dave’s family to suss out where the farm was, as the race briefing was at 7:30 on the Sat morning, with the Start at 8. I had a 14 hour schedule – to get back just as it’s going dark!

They supply a 1:40000 map of the route which you can collect from Outside in Hathersage, and I’d also done 1:25000 sheets from Anquet. I registered and dropped off my 3 food parcels for 15 & 25 miles (Moscar – Parcel 1), Yorkshire Bridge (Parcel 2) and Bradwell Sports Club (Parcel 3 – unclaimed – they are welcome to my boiled egg, crisps and Red Bull).

At the briefing they told us they had 700 litres of water out on the course as it was one of the hottest days of the year! We set off at 8am at quite a pace. The route was marked to Checkpoint 1 at Fiddler’s Elbow (11km) where there was water. A short path section was marked after this but not to the road so I lost 5 mins and nearly went up Higger Tor!

After that was a loop round Redmires and Rivelin Reservoirs and back west to Checkpoint 5 (and 8) at Moscar. I got there at 11:30, about 15 mins behind schedule and very sweaty! Dave met me there for the lasso bit around Lost Lad, which was 15km with quite a bit of climb – predicted and actual time 2h 30.

This was a lovely loop with checkpoints on Lost Lad and Ladybower, then a big climb up back to Derwent Edge (see dip at 5hrs on altitude graph!).

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At Back Tor

Got back to feed box at Moscar at 1:45 and considered quitting then as I felt quite sick in the heat but I sat in a marshall’s chair and took on some food and decided to carry on until Yorkshire Bridge and then decide. Anyone planning to do this race should schedule in proper rest time as well as running time – I was there for 15 mins.

I set out with Dave over Stanage – another tip is to take a Buff to dunk in streams from time to time – I had to run with Dave’s T shirt under my headband!!

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Dave turned round to get the car and I continued to Yorkshire Bridge on the road below Bamford Moor. I was still running but the sight of Win Hill looming above me and the fact that I was 2hrs behind schedule (= midnight finish) made me decide to stop here.

ImageGrabbed a coffee from the flask and drove back to retrieve my car and report in as ‘Retired’ in Whirlow, where there was a welcome bowl of stew and a nice bench. Finishers in the 30 mile race were being clapped in in the next field but we were too gutted to go and watch. A marshall told me that the winning time for this was 1hr 30 slower than last year due to the heat.

I would recommend these races for the friendly atmosphere, great courses and helpful marshalls. The 60 miler is quite bitty with loops that make it more difficult to visualise progress than in a circular or A to B race. Reccying would definitely be helpful, as would a realistic schedule allowing rest time. As Dave says, unfinished business…

I did this 50-mile race in 2012 in 11 hours with quite a bit of reccying (see June 2012 post) and further reccying this year – so this post is mainly photos and stuff from my new ViewRanger tracking app on my i-phone.

ImageThe Start is at Breaston (far right, under black trace) and the route goes clockwise beginning with 15 miles on the canal tow-path. It’s so long that on the laminated safety card you get at the Start, there’s numbers for A&E in 3 different cities!!

It’s a very friendly race and you choose your own start time between 6 and 8am, with relay runners starting at 9am. CP1 (10.5 miles) is the dog-leg upto Chellaston and I got there in 1hr 34 for jelly babies and water. The canal is lovely at that time of morning and I saw 2 herons and other birds. Unfortunately I forgot you needed to cross to the north bank a-bridge-before leaving the canal as the final bridge is railway-only so I needed to back-track 300m! End of the flat….

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Despite the gentle start, there are 2916 ft of ascent on this run – the dreaded steps of Duffield are the vertical line at about 7 hours

Coming into Findern I was met by a man on a bike in a fluorescent jacket who was showing us how to get through a housing estate into a concealed jitty leading into the fields. From here to CP2 at Littleover is tough to navigate and to run as the grass is knee high and there are no paths.

Got to CP (18.5 miles) in just over 3 hours and texted home that I was ahead of schedule as I had a rendez-vous with my flask and family at CP3!

Leg 3 is the worse to navigate but there were written instructions available at each CP and I made sure I picked up a set in Littleover as there were some new directions about avoiding an electric fence in Dalbury. I’d reccy’d this section again in May and took a photo of the oil-seed rape – which by race day was head high!!

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Got to CP4 (28.5 miles) Bluebell Inn at Kirk Langley at 11:35 and was met by Dave and Zoe, with coffee but sadly lunch was still in the fridge at home. Dave was dispatched into the pub to buy crisps and peanuts and the man on the bike from Findern gave me a gel. (There was plenty of food at each CP but my milk and yeast intolerance excludes most of it.)

By now I was 30 mins ahead of my 10h 45 schedule and was beginning to think it would be good to come in under 10. There were 21 miles to go, and 4h 30 to do them in so it seemed possible. There were some heavy showers on the way to CP4 at Duffield and I got there at about 1:30. Those that wanted to left a box at the Start to be taken to this CP so I got mine, with food, water and the final stage map.

I met Dave at Morley so there are a lot of photos of the last 10 miles….

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Dave says this video approaching Dale Abbey shows determination – which is another way of saying I look knackered!

Here’s another one but, beware of horizon shift…

Our stop at CP4 Carpenter’s Arms in Dale Abbey was quite short as I needed to do the last leg (5.25 miles) in under an hour to get a time of less than 10 hours. It’s a nice last leg though, and the route finding isn’t too taxing.

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Got a bit of a second wind with Dave setting the pace and soon arrived at the Finish in the car park opposite the Navigation Inn. Was met with a great welcome and camping chair and presented with a mug and the plaque for 1st lady.

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You also get a soup voucher for the Navigation Inn so it was nice to chat to other runners and I’m sure beer is a great isotonic fluid replacement!

Morecambe Bay Walk

Although this wasn’t a race, I thought I’d write it up as walking across quicksand for 9 miles still has a definite head-banging quality to it! We registered to do the walk as part of a sponsored event with the Queen’s Appointed Guide to the Sands, Mr Cedric Robinson MBE, to be sure of survival!

It’s not a circular walk so you need to arrange transport to get you back to your car at the end. The train, with the 1857 viaduct across the estuary, is a popular option (see photo), but we lined my dad up to give us a lift.

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We arrived at Arnside at noon to find it swamped with walkers, mainly queueing to use what toilet facilities the small village had to offer! We chose a nice bakery with coffee-to-go. I registered us and gave in our cheque to Galloway’s Society for the Blind and then, at 12:30, we were off.

lunch at Blackstone Point

There were over 200 of us and the pace was quite slow as we did the first couple of miles down the coast and through a wood. We had a quick lunch stop on the beach at Blackstone Point (photo above), then headed out across the sands proper. Here the pace quickened as we no longer had to follow the people immediately in front.

 

You could see the 2 rectangular blocks of the 1983 Heysham nuclear power station on the horizon shimmering in the (?!)heat haze (photo above). Although it was a sunny day with not much wind, I needed my waterproof top all the way, especially as I was wearing shorts. Some people took their shoes off for the sandy part of the walk and this was just about OK as sometimes it was hard sand and sometimes muddy. In some places we were wading in water well above the knees so that was another consideration!

We could see a large vehicle in the middle distance and the Galloway’s Guides seemed to be taking us towards it. This was where Cedric was meeting us to see us safely across the Kent Channel (outlet of the Rivers Kent and Gilpin). We’d had to check the Galloway’s facebook page on Friday to see the latest info for the crossing and were relieved to find that it had been safely marked! This was by laurel branches pushed into the sand that were visible for quite a distance and stayed put for about 3 weeks.

At about 3pm we got to the edge of the Kent Channel and the guides lined us up along one side so we could all cross together rather than in sequence. This was the highlight of the walk for the girls as it looked quite deep and fast!! The whistle blew and we were off. There were  screams as there were a few branches being swept down in the water – sharks!! –  and were where careful that everyone’s mobile was in the highest and driest pocket possible!Image

On the other side we met the huge tractor and grouped up for a photo (you can see us on the right)…

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After that we continued south for at least a mile before turning right and back towards the finish at Kents Bank Railway Station. So the Kent Channel on the GPS map is now actually further to the east and is where the GPS trace (red) intercepts the line of pink dots.

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We crossed a few other smaller channels before getting to the salt-marshy area next to Humphrey Head. This was grassy and pretty but quite smelly due to the sheep and we put our shoes back on here!!

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The last part of the walk had been quite long and tough after the excitement of crossing the Kent Channel and we were glad to get to the railway station and comfort of the car! We finished at 4:45 exactly as predicted, which is amazing with that many people. It had been a really good day and one of the strangest walks I’ve due to the fact that most of it was below sea level…

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The White Peak Marathon goes from Thorpe (near Ashbourne in Derbyshire) to Cromford along two former mining railways converted to cycle paths. You are taken by bus to Thorpe and start on the Tissington Trail, then at 11 miles after 160m of gentle climb you U-turn onto the High Peak Trail with a descent of 250m, mainly down the three ‘inclines’ after 22 miles. The ‘Altitude profile’ on ViewRanger on my i-phone shows this rather well!Image

I did the 2012 race in 3:56 and the only split I can remember is 21 miles at 3 hours. That the last 5.2 miles took 56 mins shows a dramatic slowing (from 8.57 minute miles to 10 minute miles) and I do remember walking 3 or 4 stretches. This year I was joined by my husband Dave on his 1st marathon. He’s often run the distance in fell races but never on the (relatively) level!

I went off faster and he caught me at 2 miles, I never lost sight of him and got a boost at about 9 miles and overtook. The trail meanders gently uphill and the mist was blowing into our faces. The psychological advantage of this was that you couldn’t see runners a mile ahead of you like you could last year. This is always a bit demoralising!Image

Running a marathon is all about fractions – soon you are at 6 miles, which is nearly a quarter, then 10 miles, then half way. A half marathon runs in parallel but starts at the same time as the full. I crossed the half marathon Start line at about 1:45 so was pretty pleased with that.

However at about 17 miles I began to feel my fingers going numb so I had my boiled eggs, a seed bar and dropped my glucose powder and Nuun (electrolyte) tablet into a cup of water at the next drinks station. Dave was carrying his Platypus but I didn’t carry a drink as there are 7 water stations, one of which you pass twice!

I felt a big improvement but Dave and many others were still passing me. I passed the 21 mile marker at 3hrs 2 mins, a bit slower than last year but still running and going particularly well down the inclines. The bit from Harborough Rocks is home territory but certain sections still drag!

I passed Dave on the final and longest incline and thought he would get me on the last ¾ mile section along the canal and although he didn’t, he was less than a minute behind. I was pleased with 3:54:14 – 2 mins faster than last year!

Matlock Athletics Club did a great job at organising a friendly race and a goody bag and mug at the end with a pun on ‘Swift Half’ and ‘Complete Satisfaction’!Image

I volunteered to coordinate the Middles on Stanton Moor about 18 months before the event and by then DVO had been negotiating with various landowners for 6 months, partly to try and include Hill Carr Wood in the competition area. DVO had hosted the 2011 CompassSport Cup Final at Longshaw and the Club gained a lot from the experience, including having the same Safety Officer for the Middles.

Hill Carr was not to be and by 12 months before the event, John Duckworth (the Planner) and I had identified the Assembly and ‘final’ parking. Something to work with in conversations with DVO Team Leaders, British Orienteering, English Heritage and local groups. The coordinator’s role is really to keep track of what’s happening as briefed by Team Leaders!

My husband Dave was Assistant Coordinator and we competed in the 2012 Sprint and Middles, both hosted by EBOR, to get a feel for the size of the event and pick up some tips.

I met the Sprints team at the BO Event Officials Conference in September and this was useful as we had to liaise over equipment and bibs etc. The Conference also made me think about what makes for a user-friendly event. It was around this time that fees were agreed and entries went live on Fabian – a major milestone!

The track to Assembly in early April. Competitors' cars were parking elsewhere, but traders vans, Portaloos, commentary and officials' cars needed to drive through here

The track to Assembly in early April. Competitors’ cars were parking elsewhere, but traders vans, Portaloos, commentary and officials’ cars needed to drive through here

The 8 months of rain followed by 2 months of snow meant that we ‘lost’ the parking field in January and made other arrangements for parking and bussing. The BO mini-site was a great tool for letting people know about this. Then, on the Wednesday before the event, the farmer phoned and said we could use the original field – so yet more changes but well worth it! I dread to think of the chaos this would have caused in the days before email.

Time definitely passes quicker on the weekend of the event. A dozen club members made-ready the Assembly area on the Saturday, catching occasional glimpses of John and Tony Carlyle (Controller, AIRE) disappearing into the forest. And at 7:15 on Sunday the traders began to arrive, followed quickly by competitors.

A lot of thought had gone into the arena start and the requirements for running a timed start while accommodating EOD runners. On the day, everything went very smoothly and I know that John and Tony were as relieved as I was when the first finishers came through. There were 1105 runners across the 13 courses, with anticipation building as the Open classes started in the second half of the start window.

It was great to finally relax chat with old friends at the event – as well as to my brother who had driven over from the Lake District to ferry equipment in his van. There were a couple of issues to talk through with the Controller and it was great to have someone as experienced as Tony to advise me. Soon it was time to set up for the Prize Giving and again DVO helpers (see photo) and the commentary team did a great job.

Just some of the 96 DVO members who helped on the day and before

Just some of the 96 DVO members who helped on the day and before

It was amazing how quickly everything was dismantled and put away before the first drops of rain. I really enjoyed working with everyone to put on a successful and safe event that finally came into being after so much emailing! I also got a good insight into the usefulness of the Rules, which I’d not really considered much in 25 years of orienteering!

(This was written for Orienteering Focus shortly after the event.)

I’m not sure if I should write a post for a race in which I was nearly last, but felt the start of a new season should be marked! My husband Dave had made a note of the date when entries open for this classic 23-mile fell race as we’d missed it last year and there are ‘only’ 900 or so places.

We travelled upto Malham Youth Hostel the night before and arrived at Registration in Horton-in-Ribblesdale with plenty of time. Dave was hoping his knee would hold up after a bad fall 7 weeks ago so we’d planned to set off together – but then he failed to find me in the Start pen.

3P map

Route trace on my new ViewRanger app (the Start is at Horton on the very bottom, then anticlockwise to Pen-Y-Ghent with Whernside at the top and back via Ingleborough)

The Three Peaks are Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough and it’s a classic walking route that takes about 11 hours. Running, the first split is from Horton to Pen-Y-Ghent summit (694m), a distance of 5.5km. The event has an excellent website with last year’s results and split times.

We’d chosen a 2012 finisher who ran 4 hours 40 mins and used her splits – and I was relieved to find I was on course, taking 47 mins! Mind you, the pace was quite brutal so I was among the first to start walking!!

One of the reasons we used previous split times is that there are 2 cut-off points round the course, and if you don’t get there within a certain time you’ll not be allowed to continue. We knew the cut-offs would be quite tight – the first is at the Ribblehead Viaduct 18km into the race at 2 hrs 10 mins, and the 2nd is at the Hill Inn in Chapel le Dale at 3 hrs 30 mins.

The going was quite fast descending Pen-Y-Ghent as a lot of new paths have been made to prevent erosion. Flint chippings have been used and they are quite nice to run on as there’s that bit of bounce – unlike the older flagstone paths and steps elsewhere in the race.

I got to the Ribblehead checkpoint in 2 hrs 26 seconds and was cheered on by my brother. We had deposited 2 drinks at the Start and I collected one of them here as I’d decided not to carry any water with me – something of a mistake as this race is notorious for cramp!.

The next hill, Whernside (736m) was extremely steep as we went up the front rather than the ridge. People were using their hands in places! I got severe cramp in my right calf and had to stop while it subsided. I carried on, scoffing a bar to try and replace electrolytes and it helped a bit. One of the marshals had a really booming voice and he kept telling us it wasn’t far to the top.

The race elevation profile from my new ViewRanger app

The race elevation profile from ViewRanger

It took me 59 mins to get up Whernside (central peak on graph!) and I knew I’d have to leg it to be inside the cut-off at the Hill Inn. I filled my water bottle from a semi-stagnant puddle and had a welcome drink. Walkers and marshals were very encouraging but kept telling us to hurry up to make the cut-off. My brother met me on his bike about 200m before the checkpoint so that was a good boost and although my time there was 3 hrs 30 mins and 44 seconds, they kept it open for another minute or so before asking people to retire. I later overheard one runner telling another that last year he’d come back on the ‘bus of shame’!

The last section was only 11km so even though I was tired, I knew I could do it. John told me that Dave was 10 minutes ahead of me so I was pleased that his knee had held out. I collected my 2nd water bottle and swigged the contents before the final haul up Ingleborogh (724m), which took 55 mins.

3Psal at finish

At the finish of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Race
Photo: John Brockbank

It was a long but nice descent through the limestone plateaux but finally I saw the marquee in Horton and squeezed out an extra sprint, finishing 616th in a time of 5 hrs 16 mins. Dave and John were waiting for me at the finish line and I must have looked tired as I had to fend off the attentions of an aged St John Ambulance volunteer! Dave had finished in 5 hrs 2 mins which is pretty good after 7 weeks of no training and we are now looking forward to the White Peak Marathon in 3 weeks!

Dave at finish of Y3P Photo: J Brockbank

Dave at finish of Y3P
Photo: J Brockbank

What is the Bob Graham Round?

(I didn’t have the blog when I did this 24 hour challenge in 1999, but I thought it would be a good additional post!) The route was first done in 1932 by (yes, you’ve guessed it, Bob Graham) and involves 42 Lake District peaks, 72 miles and 26,000 feet of ascent in under 24 hours. If you think about it, this means an average speed of just over three miles an hour, so you tend to walk the uphills and run the downs and the flats. It wasn’t repeated until 1960, but since then over 1700 people have done it.

Preparation

Over the previous year I had built up to running/walking 45 miles (i.e. being on my feet for 10-15 hours) and had reccied all of the route at least twice, using my Dad’s house in Windermere as a base — and calling on his babysitting abilities while Dave ferried me to distant start points and accompanied me on runs (or more often went gear shopping in Keswick!).

Organisation

The route is divided into five sections where it crosses roads (HonisterPass, Wasdale Head, Dunmail Raise and Threlkeld) and at each of these points a different pair of ‘pacers’ take over to carry your food, fine tune the navigation and record your time on each summit. I’m lucky that my brother — who has done the BG in both summer and winter (fool) — could organise much of this, although John Duckworth and some other Derbyshire folks accompanied me on my first attempt and Dave Clough saw me briefly (!) on the second one.

You can run either clockwise or anticlockwise and it’s best to set your start time so that you do the grassy Helvellyn ridge in the dark — this means a morning start going anticlockwise or an evening one if going clockwise, although having said that, a lot of people start at midnight and do Skiddaw in the dark.

 

Attempt 1: Clockwise, May 28th

I shouldn’t really have started this as the weather was so foul and, sure enough, we lost a lot of time at night to atrocious visibility. I didn’t have the energy to start running again once the dawn broke, but I carried on a bit, hoping for a second wind. It never came, so we packed in at Rossett Pike, about half way round, and took the low route on to Wasdale. I don’t know if I’d have got round then, even in good weather, as I was recovering from a cold, had only trained to 30 miles, and felt pretty bad for missing a night’s sleep so early on in the run … a new strategy was required — an anticlockwise attempt.

Attempt 2: Anticlockwise, July 10th

A walking holiday in Ireland plus doing the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon with Dave got me in good shape for this. You have to do a write up for your run to count officially, so here it is.

I opened the curtains on Saturday morning gutted to see mist of the consistency that had thwarted my previous BG attempt six weeks ago, and even considered postponing things on the drive to Keswick. Good thing husband/road manager Dave talked me out of it! Joined pacers Tony Walker and George Robertson at the Moot Hall and set off at 7.30 Imagethrough the mizzle to Low High Snab, reaching the summit of Robinson in 90 mins. The mist was thinner on the tops, so navigation wasn’t a problem (yet!). One of the main roles for pacers on this section is to slow you down, but I’m glad Tony and George didn’t do this.

At Honister, Mark Flemming and dog Maggie took over. After Mark’s canny route off Great Gable, where I was thoroughly disoriented, we were on schedule to Pillar but started looking for Steeple too early — before hitting the wall on Scoat Fell — so lost 15 mins, but apart from that, Maggie had a pretty good nose for the path when she wasn’t too busy chasing her tail! Was cheered to see Hilda on her clockwise BG at Steeple and still on schedule. Good scree run off Yewbarrow — better than stumbling through bracken covered boulder fields, as on my previous recce.

At Wasdale was met by Dave Clough from our orienteering club who’d walked over from Honister having just missed me. Had some of Kate’s chicken stew and a Dioralyte to rehydrate, plus mandatory tea and Isostar. Seeing Fred Rogerson there made the BG attempt somehow seem more real.

Then new pacers Brian and Susan Clough for the Big Bad Central Section. On the way up Sea Fell took an impromptu decision to descend via Lord’s Rake rather than Fox’s Tarn and this saved a lot of time as it was only 31 mins summit-to-summit. Saw some of the Wasdale racers on Sea Fell Pike — great atmosphere up there; the pacers seem to know everyone we pass, like it’s their local high street. Brian and Susan had some canny routes and a seemingly endless supply of jelly babies, which saw me through my only bad patch. I remember saying to Brian when we were descending Bowfell that Rossett looked like the Eiger, but we were there in a jiffy, having coffee and Battenburg with Munro Bagging chums Sue, John and Martin. They said they’d seen me looking worse, but only after a night in the pub! The mist had cleared now and John Cann joined us to Dunmail, where he arrived in his white T-shirt, looking more like a Persil advert than a fell runner!Image

The crowd put on a great welcome and I had some more stew and Dioralyte by the dual carriageway. The last three sections had taken 12 hours 50 mins, exactly to schedule.

ImageIt was a good feeling setting off up Raise Beck with BG guru Eric Draper and husband Dave, knowing that I had 11 hours to get back to Keswick and plenty of daylight to get off Fairfield. Eric found the gully down and we were soon zigzagging up Dollywaggon. Helvellyn was reached, 30 minutes up on the schedule. The wind was starting to pick up now but there was no mist and the grassy whalebacks of the Dodds were soon traversed. However, the 30 minutes were soon lost in the farmland at the bottom of Clough Head where we plodded through endless tussock of reeds with a few stone walls for good measure. Boy, was I relieved when I heard Eric say he was on the road.

Met brother and BG veteran John Brockbank at Threlkeld where I scoffed some egg butties and set off up Halls Fell Ridge, Eric continuing on this section too. Torches off at the top and jogged down Mungrisdale Common to a technicolour dawn (which, having caught on camera, John proceeded to fall into a bog and submerge said camera), Imageand ice-cold Caldew and that endless fence up Calva. I was slowing on this last section, and it was a good job it wasn’t any longer or I wouldn’t have made it. On the top of Skiddaw we met Dave in an icy wind and jogged down to crystal clear views of the whole of the Lake District rippling out in front of us. Met Caroline and Kate (Eric and John’s partners) on the way into Keswick and arrived — incredibly happy — at the Moot Hall at 7.03 where there were hugs and Bucks Fizz.Image

ImageThanks go to all the pacers for their excellent company (and those that paced six weeks previously); to training partners in Derbyshire and the Lakes; to John for inspiring me, showing me the routes and rallying the support for both attempts; to Dave for believing that I could do it, not letting me give up when winter training was getting me down (this tended to involve taking me to the pub) and miles of driving over Lakeland passes; and to my Dad and Dave’s family who spent many a weekend looking after Zoe while “Mummy ran up the mountains”.

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