Monday, 22 December 2014

Tour de Helvellyn

This race has a special place in my heart after last year when it became ultra number 62 and the last run of the year. I was hoping that the weather this year would be kinder or that at least the water would stay in the lakes and streams. The plan was to drive up on Friday evening and sleep in the van in Askham.
Not as comfy as the van ;)
The hope was to stay in the Lakes and complete Bob's Wainwrights. The forecast suggested some of this might not happen. I should also point out at this stage that my preparation for the race had been less than ideal. Having decided to give up work the last week had been a wierd mix of the normal chaotic madness of the end of term, an emotional roller-coaster and rather a lot of alcohol. I did manage a run on Wednesday night but it was my worst street O of the season so far. So Saturday 20 Dec was my first day of freedom. I had to enjoy it.
We were the first vehicle in the car park and went in to the hall to say Hello and register. The weather at this stage was not too bad and the rain had not started. Once we had eaten we both declared we were shattered and decided on an early night. The wind rocked the van gently but the rain never came to much. It was cosy and took some effort to get up at 7 to be ready to run at 8 when it would be light.
Nick lokking festive. Photo Nav4
By the time I wandered inside Andy Splatcher, Nick Ham and Dick S had already started but I did find many other friends to talk to and went to start at the same time as Tony, Albert and Mike.

 I said bye to Bob who was off on his own adventures and jogged off. The others dropped me before we reached the open fell my legs decided that was enough for so early in the morning. I plodded on and tried to keep them in sight and not to let the gap grow. I love the moors that lead to High Street and the views were wonderful. It was windy but mild and dry (ish). Knowing the route meant I could relax and enjoy the scenery. I opted for the low route and road which might be faster because I caught Tony et al by Martindale church. The lanes were dry this year and we could see the col at Boredale Hause. Tony was running strongly and pulling ahead but I kept them in sight. The col was breezy but not bad plus we were not up there for long. Today my legs seemed unwilling to cooperate and even the descent to Side farm was an effort. I stopped for food, a small cup of tea and a quick chat with a lady I remembered from another race. No thigh deep water this year and at a bend in the road I spotted Tony ahead. I was very slow heading up Greenside past the YHA and the mines. I was catching some of the slower runners who had started early but was losing ground to most others. By now I knew I would not turn back and so I might as well just enjoy the day out.  Stuart was guarding the bridge complete with Si box and smile.
Always a smile. Photo Nav4
I passed Dick who I only just recognised with his coat and hoods all buttoned up tight. After a quick wave to the photographer
First day of freedom!! Thanks Nav4

it was up and up to Stake Pass. For the first time today I felt chilly and pulled my sleeves down over my hands.
Dick in disguise. Photo Nav4
I caught Albert and Mike but Tony was way ahead by now. The wind was fierece at the col but not blowing us off our feet. The steep descent allowed me to overtake some timid people but faster younger fell runners came bounding by. We had a diversion this year due to forestry work on the east side of Thirlmere. This was a  mixed blessing- indoor CP at Legburthwaite hall with hot drinks and food but a road route round the western shore of the lake. Tarmac was possibly easier and the road was flat but it seemed to stretch out forever.  I tried to pick off people up ahead one by one and make myslef try a bit harder but I did not have my racing head on (or the legs).
It took me over 4 hours to catch up with Nick  Photo Nav4
Just before the Blands farm I met Nick and had a chat, he was suffering with bad knees. Running slowly has benefits. I had time to admire Raven Crag, the fields used for mid-camps on MMs and places where we wild camp in the van. We crossed the main road at Dunmail Raise and climbed up beside the beck so there was no need for daring or fool hardy river crossings this year. Grisedale tarn was breezy but I was warm. The rocky path just had enough water on it to make me cautious and if I decide to do the race next year I will recee the grassy valley route which cannot be worse for me at least. I am sure Andy blasted down the main path.
I never caught Andy ;(      Photo Nav4
I was aware that I should try harder and made a bit of an effort on the track and lane into Patterdale. I took on more food at the farm and consoled myself that we did not need to climb Place Fell today. Once we were off the rockiest sections I caught two guys and tried to reel in the next as I headed back to the church. By now I was regretting having left my camera in the van as the weather was glorious really. There was plenty of daylight and I knew the way back from the Cockpit so being on my own was no worry. A couple ahead seemed to miss the turn off by the deep depressions but they were too far ahead to shout back. Perhaps they were just playing safe and heading towards the trees. I really enjoyed the run across the low fell, past the horses and down the lane just as the light was starting to fade. It hadn't been a fast run - my legs were tired, my toe was sore and my shoes were pressing on my achilles but I really enjoyed just being out there.

8 hours 32 compared to 8 11 last year.  Andy had a storming run of 8 hours 6 and Tony broke the 8 hour barrier. Still I guess 6th lady and first LV50 was not too bad. After download and a quick chat with Martin Stone it was wonderful to sit and eat Joe's soup!
Joe F (RO) busy. Photo Nav 4
Between us we Andy and I managed a quick Runfurther prize giving for the Calder valley lads who were unable to make the AGM and prize giving. Suddenly I was chilly. Time to head out to the van and change into warm dry clothing. Unfortunately I then fell asleep on the bed for a while and so missed chatting to the next finishers. Bob was shattered after his long and windy walk on the higher ridges so it was an early and quick meal in the pub and another early night. Perhaps I am already turning into an OAP.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

A weekend in the Peak District

The group had spent some time trying to decide on a venue for the Runfurther end of year award celebration and AGM. Fortunately at the end of November two different organisations had decided to put on a mini mountain marathon within a short drive of each other. Even better, one was on the Saturday and one on the Sunday. Perfect as we could have our Runfurther do in Edale which would be nice and central and people could do at least one or even both events. Andy and Dick announced they were camping. Nick looked shocked, it was after all the end of November, and booked a B+B. We of course had the van. It was chilly but fine in Preston on Friday evening but by the time we reached Derbyshire it was not only very dark but also very very foggy. As we drove along Rushup Edge we missed the road down to Edale and only just caught sight of the car park as we passed it. At the sharp bend a car had crashed and it was relief that we turned there and then to Blue John cavern and parked. Phew. It was wet, windy and foggy all night but I slept well. Daylight did not bring a vast improvement but after a rapid breakfast we set off for Edale and registration.
It wasn't long before the rest of the Runfurther crew showed up. We were all hoping for fairly early starts so that we would have plenty of time to get organised at the pub. The mist was making people nervous but there seemed little point in dithering, except to take my cag off and then seconds later to put it back on again. A quick check of the map showed some rather spread CPs to the west and most along the ridge to the north. I decided to go west  so that I could have as much or little time on the ridge as I needed. Clearly this was unusual as in the first 90 odd minutes I did not see a soul. It also possibly wasn't the best choice as people I can usually beat got more points by going east. I do not regret it at all. I had a great time all alone and after almost getting cragbound on a waterfall I headed up towards Brown Knoll.
Cold but sunny 2008?
 I have been to Edale in the sun but my main memory of Brown Knoll is from the Edale Skyline Race in such bad weather that I was twice blown off my feet and then sat down and cried when I was cold, tired and covered in snow.

 My other memories are of a great day out as a family running over Ringing Roger and then reversing the skyline route to mam Tour and down to Edale. The boys loved the mud and it was laughter and shrieks of fun all day.

Today it was  a slow but steady compass bearing plus trying not to fall in any of the deeper bogs. At last the trig point came into view and I shot off downhill to find a tricky control on a stream junction. It was satisfying being totally alone and not messing it up. Although I would probably have moved faster with others to push me on I was enjoying myself. I trudged over tussocks to Jacobs Ladder and the next 20 minutes or so made me realise that this was slow and time was oozing away. At CP1 right on the western edge of the map I met my first competitor of the day. The next CP looked straightforward on the map and the nav did go OK. What the map did not make clear was the rocky and vertical descent to the actual Si box. I survived and headed back up to the main path. The next section would be mostly following the main path east and skipping off for controls. In the mist it was hard to keep a check on distance and landforms so I did make several small mistakes. The further east I went the more voices I heard. Luckily it pulled me into my next control and the kind mixed pair also swapped a map with me when they saw how badly mine was disintigrating. Runners were now coming towards me in packs! Hmm. They were running with confidence and speeding each other along. Ah well. I peered down to a CP I had considered but it would be a long slow rocky scramble and then a hard pull back uphill. Somehow running along the edge I had my thumb over the CP on Ringing Roger and so missed an easy 20 points. Time was ticking so after dropping to a wall corner I decided it was time to head back. Down out of the worst of the mist and on grassy slopes the running was faster and I had a wall to guide me. I hit two more CPs and started to traverse the hillside with the hope of a final 15 points. I was tiring and not sure I had time. I bottled it and got back with time to spare. 35 points missed, silly really. The hall was buzzing with runners refueling with siup, tea, coffee, bread and cake. We compared routes and "if onlys" and I waited for the others to reappear. A quick change in the van and we drove upto the pub.  Andy and Dick had tents to put up but Bob and I sat with a beer. Phase 1 of the weekend was over. No photos sadly as there were no views and the air was full of moisture.

Next up was the Runfurther AGM and awards.  The room was cosy and I hoped not too many extra runners would turn up, nice though it would be to see them. The meeting galloped along nicely. We were all willing to stand again, nobody else wanted to be nominated ot to end up with a job and few questions were raised.

With the business taken care of and thanks given to all runners who supported us and all those who gave sonsorship we moved onto the prizes.  Si Berry had tuened up with a box of spot prizes and there were so few in the room that everyone recieved something.

 Karen McD brought the wonderful Grand Slam hoodies for Emma and Nigel and between us we distributed all the prizes, trophies and certificates. Then there was just cake and a quiz. People drifted off home and Andy, Dick, Nick, John V, Bob and I were left. More beer and chat plus food. We sat talking for ages and probably drank more than was wise in preparation for an event the next day. It was good being able to simply fall out the pub and crawl into the van for sleep. Phase 2 complete.

We had a restless night but were up in good time to drive to Totley and the walk down to the cricket ground soon blew the cobwebs away. What a difference a day makes- blue skies today and viability for miles. We studied the map at registration but soon admitted we were just wasting time and we should get going.

There was a small group as we ran to the first CP but then suddenly we split. I headed round on a good path. A bit of a detour but fast running so maybe not so bad. The climb up out of the woods was a struggle and I had not really got going.

 A group of deer flew across the path and the woods were beautiful. After the road it was up onot the open moor and time for some decisions. I found a good trod and although muddy it was gentle enough to run. I made a small error near the next CP but soon corrected and was on my own for a while. The views were superb. I soon regretted heading straight for the trig point CP on the eastern edge of the map. The deep heather slowed me down and I was wishing I had gone back out to the path. A runner appeared form the corner of my eye- a local who knew there was a small trod by the ruined wall. It certainly helped. Heading north on a very muddy path I missed a turn and realsied I was almost at the road. Oh well, it was not OoB and would be easy running. A quick out and back to the most northerly control was fast and then I headed down the valley. About time as I seemed to have been going up for ages. After the river I headed downstream and then after the felled area went up to a huge boulder. Except in reality several were almost as big and I had in my head that the river valley went south. It meant I kept searching and not quite finding. I must have lost well over 5 minutes but in the end there it was. The next CP was a must at 70 points, the highest of the day! I knew the area vaguely from orienteering on the Longshaw Estate. I then dithered about the best way to start heading back. Simplest although not very satisfying was the road verge. I pushed on the best I could and even remembered to eat a gel. It worked enough to tempt me into trying to get the last 50 pointer. I kept checking my watch and hoping that I was not being greedy as at this event one second late means losing ALL your points. Even after the final hilltop the CP was further down the gully than I anticipated. I am so glad that it was downhill through the heather to reach the path. Downhill and heather I can manage. I made myself run hard and when I hit the lane I was sure I would be OK. I passed the van and raced across the grass to the pavillion. 4 minutes to spare and a good score. I was pleased with myself and enjoyed my tea and biscuits. The only female to beat me was Karen Poole. Result. It was good to chat to Tindersticks of Chorley and interesting how he is keen to do more events like this and improve his nav for fell running. I wandered back to the van, changed, ate, collected all the Runfurther flags from Dick and then started to worry where Bob was. He appeared, in a T shirt, after a good walk on the area. Phase 3 complete and a really good weekend. Next year we should see if we can do the series.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Ultra nutrition study weekend.

I saw a post on facebook and decided to sign up. Matt, my son, had done a Sports Science degree and I knew how hard it was for him to get willing volunteers. I met Joe at the SLMM briefly and confirmed I was in. Over the early autumn he sorted a route and a base etc and then some initial data from food and exercise diaries. We even met for a bleep test although this was abandoned for several reasons.

I left work on the dot and fled down the side alley still dressed as Spiderman as I jumped into the van and we raced to Broughton lights to beat the worst of the traffic. (it had been Children in Need fancy dress day!). We had an easy journey and were at Stair village hall before dark. Joe was out marking the course so we sat and chatted to another runner, Phil the chef. Joe eventually reappeared and we set up the hall and he took our skin fold measurements again- I think he just likes painting dots on our bodies. A few other runners arrived but there were tales of woe and many phone calls. The M6 was shut and people were having serious delays of 4-6 hours. It was going to be a late night for some and so not ideal preparation for a 5am start. I had forgotten school also had 3 coach loads of pupils driving back from Birmingham. Being stuck in traffic with your own kids is bad but with 40+ others. Urgh! Bob and I retired to the van, ate our spag bol and turned in for an early night. Joe had been tempting us with pics of group 3 food and all the others to arrive before bed were group 3. I joked that Group 1 were not coming!

 As Bob was doing the Si he would be up early too. Joe had divided us into 3 groups and I really thought I had drawn the short straw. I was in Group 1 and expected to fuel for 16 hours of running from 3 torq gels and hour. As I usually eat little and only use gels as emergency food it was going to be a tough ask. Once I had got over my upset  decided to look on it as a chance to experiment and see how it went. I had tried the gels a couple of times in the last week and discovered that some flavours were not so bad and as they are quite small it is not such a big facing as my usual source. I slept well, ate porridge and was in the hall by 5am. After briefing, stocking up with gels, meeting the others, dishing out Si cards and maps we were finally ready and set off together at about 6am.

Joe had marked a course across fields to Uzzicar and then up over Causey Pike. We then cut NW to High Moss, climbed a bit on the big track before heading north towards the mine works before picking up the muddy trod on the north face of Outerside all the way to Little Braithwaite and then back to Uzzicar and Stair.

 About 11km with about 650m of climb. The challenge was to do as many laps as you could, in the best time that you could and stick to the food intake Joe had decided for us.

 I had not met Beth or Laura before and I only knew Natasha and Jo to say hello to. I knew Forest, Janson and Adnan would be faster than me and did not know the other  guys at all.  We stayed together across the fields and got the hang of the route.

Joe came out to meet us as we dropped onto the road for the climb up the Pike and was relieved we had all found it OK. Forest, Janson and Adnan disappeared uphill now along with Pete and I think Phil. It was a tough climb and certainly I was not running much of it! In the dark and damp some rocks were greasy and I did not want a fall to end my day early. I could not face gels this early in the am and did not feel the need to eat for the first 90 mins or so.
Causey Pike
Back at Stair the sun was rising and I dropped my torch off. We had blood tests for glucose and lactate, were weighed and answered some brief perception questionnaires. I set off on lap 2 determined to try to eat gels and more confident now it was light and I knew the route. I managed 2 gels which was less than Joe wanted but more than I would usually eat. Lap 2 was faster.

Around this point I realised that Beth and I were a similar speed and so if I could edge ahead then I was pushing and treating it a bit like a race. on the next laps I managed to up the gel intake and although it was an effort as I did not really want them they did not make me sick and they did give me energy.

By now we were pretty spread out around the course so there was no queue for tests or download. As the laps started and finished across the fields we met each other and were able to pass on supportive comments. Jo retired sick and Natasha stopped with a bad ankle. Adnan had a lie down after the gels but recovered. I changed my shoes and had a cup of tea but was surprised to find how well I was doing.
Down towards the mines
By lap 4 the muddy trod on the far side of Outerside was in a real state and the camber meant it was a struggle to stay upright. It was a joy to get onto the wide grassy paths that trend towards Braithwaite.
It's a long way up!
By the middle of the day walkers and fell runners staying at the activity centre were wise to what was going on and also joined in the support. On lap 5 I hit the target of 4 gels. Part of the problem was not wanting to eat climbing the Pike and not daring to take my eyes off some of the rocky or muddy paths. I promised myself that if I did eat 4 gels then I would steal some real food at Stair. As I crossed the final field Phil appeared and told me cold pizza had just been served. It was the inspiration I needed. Pizza and another cup of tea.

The laps were starting to get a bit monotonous, how on earth do people cope running round and round a track for 24 hours? I told myself 2, maybe 3, more laps. I was starting to dislike the idea of another gel but managed two but sicked one back up on lap 6. Still I had tried and stuck to gels longer than I thought possible. I finished that lap in the dusk and scared some peasants in bushes which nearly made me jump off the path. I refuelled in the hall with 2 pieces of pizza and another cup of tea. I set out again in the dark knowing that regardless of time this would probably be my last lap. The Pike was getting very slightly dangerous and I hated the muddy sloping trod.  I ate nothing on this last lap and just wanted to get back, stop and have real food. Knowing the end was close I pushed hard and dared to run the mud in the dark. I tripped several times but stayed upright, just. I arrived back at the hall to find Forest and Pete had both stopped. A cheer went up as I too said enough! I had time for another lap but not the motivation.

I guess in a race I would have gone out again. Forest ran the first 5/6 of his laps with a big pack as he is training for the Spine. Phil had already stopped, Gordon thought it was too risky in the dark and laura was bombed. Janson was out and a lap ahead as was Adnan I think. Beth completed her 7th lap and finished as I was getting changed. After more tests and some food we chatted and changed. Forest felt ill and was trying to sleep. Adnan craved spicy food. Bob and I retired to the van for beer and curry. Great recovery food. My achilles and heel bones were sore but otherwise I felt OK. I had learned that Torq gels are not so bad, that eating to a plan might actually work, that tea is better than cold water but some water on the go is best....

We slept well and were off by 7ish to drive to Borrowdale for another adventure.
Bob has reduced the reamining Wainwrights to 25 and the plan today was to collect 4 from Rosthwaite. We parked with no bother and sat eating breakfast and drinking coffee. I did not feel too bad but putting my shoes on realised just how sore by heel bones and achilles were.

 I wanted to wear the Salamon shoes as they are goretex and I knew I would otherwise have wet feet all day. It was a slow and desperate looking hobble as I left the van and wandered up the lane through the farm yard. As we left the Seathwaite valley and climbed up towards Rosthwaite Fell I was really struggling, espcially on the steeper ground.

 Reaching the top meant a break in the terrain and my tendons were loosening up a bit. Some real food helped too. It was a gorgeous day and great to be out with Bob. I feel bad now that I must have been so grumpy but it was just so sore.

Things improved as we headed forGlaramara and I was pleased to have put up with the high heel tabs on the shoes because it was a swamp fest and the goretex shoes were great.

 After soom indecision we reached the top and soaked in the views.

The cloud was higher than yesterday and Gable etc looked superb.We continued south and cut round the side of Allen crags to reach the main tourist path. I was hungry again so more food before we headed out to Seathwaite Fell.

I think I had been here before but actually am now not sure. The tarns were flat as mill ponds so the reflections were superb. We made it a quick out and back before dropping to Styhead Pass.

This always reminds me of the Borrowdale OMM as it was on the stepping stones here that Rowena and I first realsied that conditions were getting atrocious and we were not safe on the tops.Today was totally different. Bob had picked up a faint trod line on the hillside.

 If it worked it would mean we did not have to climb Green Gable nor would we have to drop along the main path and then climb back up.  Despite my misgivings the trod was perfect as it first crossed Aaron Slack and then headed up ot the col before Base Brown.

The views off the nose were great but we knew it was still some way back to the van. We returned to the col and took the main path down. I am not a fan of cobbles and they were wet.

At first we avoided them all together but then to drop to Seathwaite next to Sour Milk Gill we had no choice. I grumbled and was too tired to enjoy this bit. Eventually we hot the valley for an easy 3-4km back along the lanes.

I was too tired to contemplate a more interesting route and my feet were better on even and predictable terrain. I had a burst of speed but only because I was desperate for food. What a bonus the van was. Socks and shoes off, heater on, food, hot soup....... I even got inot bed for a cozy rest. Shame we had to drive back but after a coffee part way we were revitialised enough and it wasn't really that late.
So. A great weekend with some brilliant company and Bob is now down to 21 remaining.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Lake District weekend.

After a wet weekend to start November and just a short run on Pendle we were keen to do more. We drove up quite late on Friday and parked in a quiet spot not far from Threlkeld. Bob's mission to do all the Wainwrights needed a kick start. Also because he originally planned just 10 from each book we now have some rather 'odd' ones left. So the plan was a mopping up exercise. First off was High Rigg.

The church centre was full for the weekend but we managed to find a spot for the van. A quick climb up the hill and into the wind reassured us that we should not be on the high tops.

The view was great and we had a lovely run down the grassy paths.

Next stop Raven Crag. The forestry commission had been busy with bulldozers but luckily we only had to cross their path and not follow it. I had never been up here before and it was steep. We arrived at the summit to find low cloud and no view.

We waited and it changed to intermittent view but only of the dam at the end of Thirlmere. The Helvellyn ridge was now lost in cloud despite being covered with blue skies when we got up. We took in Castle Crag too as I had never been there either.
Nice new cag from RAB, shame my eyes are shut!
I tried out some of the Torq gels and bars that Joe is providing for next weekends Ultra nutrition study. There were better than I expected and the gels are so small that they go down in one go which is a plus. A quick check of the map showed we should slot in Walla Crag next.

Parked in the NT car park we set off through the woods and up by the gill. Again a steep short ascent. It was a bit claggy on the tops but we got some views and were back in the van before the rain got going. I should say at this point that we cheated- this was not a Steve Birkinshaw attempt. We used the van to move between these spots!
We moved along the main road, escaped Keswick which was full of shoppers and headed towards Cockermouth. The lanes looked small on google earth but we got the van through Wythop Mill and found a brilliant parking area just where we needed it.

 I missed the trip to orienteer on Sale Fell in the snow and gales a few years ago so it was another first for me. No snow this time but the winds wee strong. Again we got the views and a wonderful grassy descent that I defy anybody not to run down.

 As we headed for Ling Fell the rain drops started. Not heavy but as we had more planned for the afternoon we put over trousers on to stay dry. We opted for the wide path with gentle contours- which was fine except it meant we almost circumnavigated the hill before we reached the top.

Another windy trig point and another lovely descent- albeit a bit warm in full waterproofs. Back to the van for lunch and just in time as the heaviest rain poured down.

We sat with soup and sandwiches listening to the rain and checking the van heater was working well. By the time we had driven to Loweswater the rain had stopped. Two more to go and our pan would be complete. We could not see the path over Darling Fell but found a good trod and headed directly for Low Fell.

It was an interesting area with lots of little sub peaks but the real plus were the views up Buttermere and into Grasmore etc. We carried on north along the edge and went out to inspect some crags before the final peak of the day Fellbarrow.

 The run off this was a little rougher and then boggy and we were starting to notice the fading light. As we hit the old road- now just a rough track the sky over the coast was purple.

 We stepped up the pace. As we left the road and started down the fields the first drops fell. It became a sprint back to the van to out pace the rain. We made it just! The rain came down in buckets and I was shocked how suddenly it also became dark. Friday night with a full moon never got really dark, even when I got up in the middle of the night for a wee. Tonight was very dark, it was black.  This is when the van comes into it's own. We were cosy. made cups of tea and read then cooked before an early night. We certainly made the most of the day.
Sunday was the Copeland Chase. It was a first for us although I am not really sure why we had never been before. The drive round did not take long and we parked in a layby next to the solitary portaloo. I had entered the long course and knew this meant I would be up against all the fastest men. ie I would not be very competitive but would certainly get a long hard run. The Copeland Chase is a small and relaxed affair, a bit like the Warrior O trial. We paid as promised, got ready and went to collect our map. The short uphill walk to the unmanned start allowed me a chance to glance at the map. The map was A3 and CP1 was on the far right whereas the start was on the far left. It was going to be a hard run and that was without worrying about route choice or navigation. I shamelessly picked out Steve and Martin in the distance and tried to use them to make me run on the slowly rising land. The rain that started as I took my map had stopped and there was a beautiful rainbow.  I wasn't fast but did catch Steve who had raced Dunnderdale the day before. We stormed past Stuart from Nav 4 and then suddenly I was on my own. I aimed for a small col and the control was exactly where I expected, even if it was low on the ground and almost hidden. Leg 2 was almost as long and gave me a real headache for route choice. I decided on down and around which was mostly good running if my legs could be persuaded.I did have to stop and remove my cag and did have a few moments of indecision on the way. On the north side of Carling Knott I followed the fence steeply uphill which was fine until the trod ended and the hillside became more tussocky. Tussocks are not so bad on a downhill but for me are a nightmare on an uphill. The fences made the nav easy and I arrived at the junction to find a lovely grassy slope leading down to the path leading west to Owsen Fell. I knew my control was a cairn and so was a bit surprised to find it missing- until I checked the map and saw there were two cairns! The views were superb and really regretted not leaving my camera in my sack. Yes I know it was a race but a few seconds would not matter much in the wider scheme of 3-4 hours.As I turned to run back to Burnbank Fell I passed Jim Mann and Matt Volkes. I had given up wondering who was on which course after loosing and then finding Martin Skinner.To avoid the top I hopped the fence and contoured but I did not dare to drop and so the level or slightly uphill contour was a mistake over rough ground. Well, it was a mistake for me- Jim seemed to find it OK. Leaving CP3 Jim powered off into the distance but I was pleased to spot the trod he missed and almost caught him up again on the way to Blake Fell. I did wonder about a trod to the east of Blake Fell but was not sure whereas I knew there was a trod to the west as I had used it at the FRA relays back in 2009.  By the time I emerged to the south of the summit Jim had vanished. I aimed for CP4 and although Quentin pointed out that he saw me deviate off to the right for me it was a tiny error of about 60m! The time I lost in that was nothing to the time I lost on the next climb back over Gavel! Quentin disappeared and I flogged uphill. I aimed for the top kowing it would mean a good path once I arrived there. I then repeated some of my route to CP1 and had fun running downhill on a boggy but good path. I was lucky as another runner was at the CP and so I lost no time searching for the very ruined fence line. I had mostly been on my own for the morning especially from 1-2 and 3-4 but now there were more people about and some on my course. As I climbed back out from CP5 I met others going down. I kept ahead while I was on the trod but was soon caught as I hit the tussocks. It did mean that as I left CP6 I was able to chase a guy from WCOC and I am sure it made me run harder. By the time I was on the forest track on the way to CP7 there were half a dozen of us running. This last CP had a mean little climb and then a tricky fence to climb to get to the finish.  Not a bad run in the end at 3 hours 40 mins. I guess there were bits where I could have pushed myself faster but on the whole I was pleased with my run, route choice and nav.  Karen Parker beat me by 20 mins and Shane, Steve B, Quentin and Lewis etc were some way ahead. I was grateful for the cup of tea and cake and also for our van where I changed and then made another brew and sandwich before heading out for the prize giving. Julian was 2nd and 1st vet on the short course and Quentin was first vet on the long so a good day for SROC. Bob had enjoyed his run but kicked himself for his route choice at the very start. We agreed we were too tired to do anything on the way home and anyway the good weather did not last.