I'm not the County Cross Country champion, Buster Douglas is. So I didnt feel I should take today off from running. Besides, it was the final day of my Christmas holiday and what better way to spend it (or any other day for that matter) than running up some of the biggest hills in't Lake District?
The XC race wasnt great. I started tentatively as I now always do, and by the end of lap 1 I was picking off runners ahead. Same throughout lap 2 but then by lap 3 I was being picked off myself. Still, with zero intervals or speedwork completed for many a week, I cant complain. And if I were to start regularly running mile reps or somesuch , then these 30-45 minute races would really come alive.
So for today (Sunday) I opted to have another test run over Bob Graham Round leg 1 (clockwise).
(i'm not going to specify the direction any more - y'all know what I mean by leg 1, and its only IWC who goes t'other way)
Was a late start (1205) and I knew I would need to be quicker than the other week to avoid darkness. But the other week was lots of snow and ice, and I also continued that day for an extra 4 hours, so no way should today take much more than about 3.5 hours.
Going up Latrigg for the third time in two days seemed weird. I even saw the same two ladies as I saw yesterday. (they had three distinctive dogs which caused me to remember them. One looked very much like Scamp. And the dogs were Collies too - boom boom).
I passed a number of Keswick AC runners coming down Latrigg, and also noted lots more runners coming toward Gale Rd on the path that fronts Lonscale. I think it was a club training thing. Evenif Id remembered though , I wouldnt have joined in as I like to include big climbs as much as possible when fell running. Mainly 'cos Im very lazy and like to walk!
Funnily enough though I didnt walk at all up Skiddaw today. I ran it all nice n easy style, pausing only to open the few gates. A decent tailwind helped the cause and I m not sure I would have done so well given a headwind. Top was reached in 65 minutes and I ploughed straight on over t'other side for a spell before edging Right, off the path in search of the famous 'four posts' which denote the ideal spot to climb over the fence.
Immediately over the fence there is now a well established trod cut into the hillside. It is a bit of a shame to see such manmade impressions in the District. But its unavoidable wherever people are attracted in large numbers. I made the top of Gt Clava in 37 minutes. It was covered in clag but I didnt want to use the fence line for descent (as i did last time) so followed my intuition on the line across the heather. I actually found a good trod within a few seconds of running - my intuition must be OK. The trod took me all the way to the path crossing and then over to the Caldew.
Knees got cold and wet in the Caldew then right into the dreadful walking climb up onto Mungrisedale Common. It wasnt anywhere near as bad today though. I made a point of deliberately lifting my knees high and marching in a straight line. As opposed to t'other week when I slipped and stumbled left and right and seemed to find every bog. I pretty much followed a bearing constantly until I came upon the path that leads to Blencathras Foule Crag approach. Ideally I would then have used another bearing to avoid Foule Crag and the scree below it and bring me out onto the very summit. But I didnt have the bearing in my head and getting the map out seemed a faff, so I climbed most the way up then cut through the scree on the Blencathra fell race line. I reached the trig point in 67 mins (from Gt Calva), then popped down to the A66 and my van. 3hrs 17 mins.
Thats a decent time for leg 1. I wasnt the least bit tired or hungry and felt like I could easily have ran on. This is just as well 'cos the full Bob Graham Round could easily take 20 hours longer than this....