Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Chevy Chase fell race and the Lakeland 50


The Chevy Chase seems like a distant memory, even though it was only 4 weeks ago.  People who know me are aware that this is my favourite race and felt I was in good shape going into it - although there were nagging thoughts that I hadn’t done the mileage.  

With Emma B (Women's winner) and Steph Scott (3rd) Top folk!
The plan was simple.  Do what I did last year.  A steady start then have something left for the last ten miles from the top of Hedgehope where I can chase down those ahead of me.  The start was steady.  So steady that it felt like a training run.  I was up at the front for the first couple of miles along with Bruce Crombie (race favourite) and Simon Johnson (second in 2013).  It felt as though I was maintaining the same pace but somehow managed to open up a bit of a lead from Broadstruther.  I was out on my own, not looking back, but conscious that I could be caught at any moment. This didn’t bother me much as I was feeling strong, but I am not used to leading a race.  I passed through the Cheviot checkpoint and descended down the line I had recced a few weeks earlier. The drag up to Hedgehope seemed to be a struggle but I still managed to reach the summit in first position.  If I could maintain a steady pace from here on in I might win this thing.  

Alas, at Carey Burn, Bruce caught up to me.  I was flagging at this point, reaching for an emergency gel and a nakd bar.  Too late.  The legs were gone.  By the time I picked up, Bruce was long gone.  He had his race plan and stuck to it without any deviation.  I had a strong last two miles, and managed to finish second, one place higher than 2013.  Happy days! Congrats to Bruce, the strongest man won on the day.  I’ll be back, more determined than ever. Will I ever get a better chance to win my first race? Fabulous hosting by Wooler running club again.  I won’t forget my midge repellent next year.


Going into the Lakeland 50 I was in canny nick, although I had strained my groin somehow ten days before.  I took it easy and tried some strengthening exercises which did help.  And of course the taper helped!  I was running as part of a team with my brother this year and was looking forward to doing well.  Unfortunately he had a heel problem for some weeks and was unsure if he was going to be able to run.  We headed off to Coniston to pitch up and register.  It was very warm.  A mini heat wave had hit Cumbria and it was in the 30’s.  We saw the 100 mile runners off at 6pm and chilled for the rest of the evening.

No need to get to the front, early days!
We arrived at Dalemain on the Saturday morning via an eventful bus journey, basking in the heat for an 11:30 start.  Michael was going to give his foot a tester on the first 4 miles, a loop of the Dalemain Estate.  It would be at this point he would decide if he could carry on and do the whole race.  Unfortunately he had to stop and wished me luck on my journey to Coniston.  I felt really bad for him as this has been on our calendar for almost a year.  He’ll come back stronger once his foot is sorted.  I have no doubt.


It was steady running right through to Howtown where I filled up my empty bottles and collected some salted peanuts.  The liquid was going down so quick.  The drag up Fusedale doesn’t get any easier.  I was chatting with a guy who was unsure of the route and he mentioned we were in the top ten.  No way! Haweswater took an age to run along, it states 5k along the shore to Mardale Head.  Absolute codswallop.  Longest 5k in the world.  Once I had reached the top of Gatesgarth pass I knew most of the long climbs would be over so I pushed on towards Kentmere.  I knocked back four smoothies and a cup full of coke.  I hadn’t pee’d since before the start and was kind of thinking I should try.  Five minutes in a porta-loo without success.

Michael had managed to get the bus back to Coniston and then drive to Troutbeck to give me some encouragement.  He walked with me for a few minutes giving me a boost.  After last year’s route deviation through Skelghyll woods I was hoping to take the right path this time.  It was so much easier!  I dropped into Ambleside to a great reception from spectators and the general public.  Morale boost indeed.  Glancing at the spectators in the beer gardens holding some delicious beverages.

At Chapel Stile checkpoint I was craving something savoury.  The beef stew was awesome and set me up for the last stretch on to Tilberthwaite. I kept eating throughout the race this year, which made a hell of a difference.  I usually can’t get things down but I forced myself.

Welcome sight and finishing in daylight
A few orange segments and some haribo at Tilberthwaite, I climbed the steps of doom for the last climb of the day.  There was a gentle breeze at this point, thankfully behind me which helped me along.  It even started to drizzle a little.  Refreshing!  I stepped onto the road for one final push through Coniston to cheers from the crowds again.  Amazing.  I reached the end in 9hrs 15 and 12th position.  Michael was waiting for me, what  welcome sight.  Thanks for that! :o)

Top event, would highly recommend it.  It’s no picnic.  Even though it’s “only the 50” it’s one tough day out.  Well done to everyone and thanks for all the support/marshalls etc.

That could be me done with ultra’s for a while.  My last one could be the CCC in 2015.  To do the CCC has been my plan for the last 2 years and I hope to get in especially after last year’s rejection.  Stupid lottery system. 

I’m happier in the fells and running quick, short races.  20 miles and under.  I should stick with that while I can.  Speed doesn’t last forever.  Probably change my mind though.....

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