As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friends, dogs, hills, ice cream, beer

and the band played on

Ambleside Sports has a truly unique atmosphere. Because it's held on a Thursday in the school holidays everybody there is holidaying in the Lakes or has taken time off work to attend, and everywhere you look people are smiling and enjoying the show.
Even Ricky would struggle to win the RR against these lads and lasses

Last year I attended with camera and photographed the fellrace. This year, despite having the Lakes 50 Ultra coming up again just 2 days hence, I decided I would run in the race as it is one I know well and enjoy very much.

I didnt bother doing a warm up on this occasion and once we hit the first climb after about 5 mins running I was overtaken by quite a few runners to end up in about 10-12th place as we tackled the steep twisty path up Nab Scar. Such a long slog as it is, I slowly got myself into gear and one by one passed lads who were reduced to walking up the handy (for tourists) steps.

Just ahead of me was Sam Ware of Eden Runners. Sam finished 8th at the Wasdale race less than 2weeks earlier and is in great shape of late. After 16 minutes running I clocked myself 20 seconds behind Sam. Soon after that we were in clag and could see no more than 20 metres ahead. I dispatched the last of the lads I had climbed with as soon as the terrain allowed a little faster progress and was now for all intents and purposes, on my own.

Although all that is required is to remain on the path along the ridge, with nothing to take a reference from its a bit eerie and easy to let your mind wander and doubt yourself to be going the right way.  Luckily, Rydal Beck always roars loudly to the RHS in the valley below and this calm day it could be heard clearly - so onwards and upwards.

Climbing toward Great Rigg I caught sight of Sam Ware again. Buoyed by the fact I was obviously running faster then him now I pressed on ever harder. Whilst the path goes over Great Rigg there is no requirement in the Rydal Round to visit the summit and we wasted a bit of time doing so. But in such clag I was very wary of shortcuts that leave the obvious wide path. Anyway, I caught Sam (and another lad he had been with from the start) on the drag up onto Fairfield. I reckoned I was now about 8th.

Coming down off the summit is great running initially then Link Hause to Hart Crag is horribly rocky. The three of us all went a different way, and me and Sam met up again as we climbed over Dove Crag.

Somehow, once we were onto the flowing running section alongside the ruined wall, I had 100metres on Sam. I saw little point in thrashing myself to make up the time lost earlier by visiting unnecessary summits, and just cruised easily downwards. A mile or so later Sam caught me and we discussed the route ahead. We certainly didnt take the best route available - we crossed the wall too late. We did manage to miss the 'big drop' but only by backtracking for about 15 seconds to get onto the better path E of the wallside path.

Across the final couple of fields and the path turns into hard track. Sam was following the track but I knew the gate to leave the field by was in the opposite corner and a diagonal line across the field was smoother, shorter and less stoney underfoot. Perhaps I should have let Sam stay on the track. I might have got 10 seconds on him there.  But I regard him as a pal and general top banana so I shouted him across to my line and we ran the last minutes of the race together.

Sam pressed on slightly in the final 200m and gapped me to perhaps 5 or 10 secs. When I crossed the line I was handed a voucher saying I was first Vet 40. This is the first time I have ever got 1st Vet 40 in fellracing and I am hugely proud to have done it in a well recognised event with 130 starters. More amazing though, Sam was given a voucher for 5th overall, making me 6th overall. (unless a vet 50 beat us both but I don't think so).

During the poor route choice descent I stumbled down a particularly high drop and twisted my ankle. I do this all the time in the hills and always just keep running. This time it hurt A LOT and didnt fade much as I ran on. Now, one day later it still hurts but not particularly badly when walking. Its not swollen or anything like that so I'm hoping  all will be OK for tomorrows 50 miler.

Why risk a fellrace 2 days before a big event like the Lakes 50 Ultra?  Live for the day I say. Do what you want to do, strive to get what you desire and live with any consequences, after all, I might break my collar bone climbing the first gate in the Lakes 50.

Afterwards, our party of 9 went to Keswick for our tea. A good pint of Guinness but poor food in a pub which I shall not name but which we will not visit next year.

Jodie, Maisie, Kian and Ellie - personal support crew

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