Part 1 – down’s
Just before Christmas I aimed to participate in the Tour de Helvellyn race. A 38 mile loop starting from Askham and taking in Martindale, Patterdale, Stick’s pass, Thirlmere and Grisedale. I did participate, but unfortunately this was to be the first race I have ever had to pull out of, notching up my first DNF.
The weather on the drive over to Askham the day before the event was what can only be described as horrendous. Gale force winds, rain beating against the windows and chilly temperatures. We were praying for the weather to improve as I hunkered down on the Community centre floor for a night’s kip, along with thirty or so others taking advantage of the cheap accommodation with porridge for breakfast thrown in. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much. A combination of the wild weather and the snoring/farting combo at frequent intervals put paid to that.
I set off at 8am sharp and it wasn’t raining at this point. I caught up with Mr D Troman and Mr M Wilson early on who both knew the route so I could get a good start and on the right path. I was familiar with part of the route from the Lakeland 50 along Ullswater to Howtown. Other than that, I hadn’t reccied any of it so was hoping there would be plenty of runners to follow so I could keep my rubbish nav skills in my back pocket….
I was going well up until the descent of Boredale Hause. Everywhere was saturated. I lost concentration on the rocky path down to Patterdale and slipped and fell onto my leg. The force of my body weight pressing my leg into a rock. I got up straight away but looked down and my thermal legwear had torn, exposing a large swelling of my outer shin. It didn’t look good but a fellow competitor advised me to walk for a while to assess the damage. I reached the Patterdale checkpoint and felt sore but confident I could keep going. It looked like it was a damaged muscle which was petruding out, and not bone (thankfully). Was I doing more damage running on it? I carried on until the Swirl How car park where I was intending to eat and drink then head off again. The marshall at the checkpoint spotted the injury and advised I pulled out. I was gutted, but resigned to the fact that I had another 20 miles to go on an injured leg. It wasn’t going to improve by running on it, stupid to carry on.
The organisation of the event and the route were excellent. I hope to return one year to do it justice. Thanks to Joe Faulkner for the lift back to the start!
Part 2 – up’s
Having rested for a few days after the TdeH disappointment, my leg had improved a lot and I was out having a bimble in the hills with my brother on Boxing day. I was back training at the club and thought about entering the Hill forts and headaches race on New Year’s day. A 3 mile blast from the Newcastle Hotel at Rothbury up to the top of Beacon Hill. I had run this the previous year and really enjoyed starting the New Year with a great fell race. Four quid for a race and cracking soup at the end.
As usual I set off too fast but kept with the leading two of Lee Bennett and Phil Sanderson up to 1.5 miles. It was a bit of a struggle after that, the clag had come down and temperatures dipped the higher we climbed.
I was over the moon to finish third, but I was thinking I was going to be caught at any moment. A bottle of ale for third and a chocolate orange for first team. Cracking start to the year and a boost to the confidence. There were mutters that this could be the last Hill forts race unless someone steps in to take over the organisation. It would be a great shame if nobody came forward. I can imagine it would be a lot of work involved.
Part 3 – Ultra-trail du Mont Blanc – the CCC lottery outcome