Sunday, 15 June 2014

3 Rings of Shap

We included this in the Runfurther series this year as a long, so for us all 3 rings were compulsory. I almost didn't go as I felt so tired at the end of the week but I had entered, the weather was OK and being LDWA there were no harsh cut-offs. It was close enough to drive up on Saturday morning and still to have a little time to socialise. The whole RF team were there and a number who are doing the series.
I decided to avoid the mass start at 8 after warnings of many stiles in the first mile. In the end we went off in dribs and drabs- Dick, Emma, then Nick, me and finally Andy. Even before Wet Sleddale reservoir came into view it was obvious it was going to be very warm and humid.

There was congestion at the slippery stepping stones so we dashed straight through the river- feet would not stay dry in Mosedale for long anyway! This was familiar terrain after several runs and MMs and I was enjoying myself. It took me until after Mosedale cottage to haul in Dick- he was moving well.

The first self clip was up on Branstree and although the climb was tough it seemed small after munros. The grassy run to Selside Pike and down to the waterfalls of Mosedale Beck was wonderful and before long we met the road at Swindale Head and then the CP at Truss Gap.

 Fuelled by mini pizza I set off for Tailbert running close to Pam who knew the way and another runner who I saw all day but never found out her name. At Rosgill we turned south and ran back past the ruined abbey and across the fields to Shap. One ring down, 2 to go. LDWA know how to do food so I had tea, soup and quiche before setting off again.

Ring 2 headed out over the railway and M6 and I was mostly on my own. I expected to meet a couple that set off just before me but they knew they way and I did some dithering. Before Reagill I caught the unnamed lady and others. This ring just didn't do it for me. The route just seemed random, bits of it were awful - like the felled forest section and the fields of thistles so thick that no grass showed through! Then Nigel suddenly appeared and I ran with him for a bit, but could not keep up. Morland looked a pretty village but there was no time to stop and explore. After Morland there was a loop out north and people seemed to disappear? There was no self clip so I am not sure whether they got lost, if I was just going very slowly of if some took a short cut more directly to Great Strickland.  Probably just me feeling low and going slow. The CP here was behind a pub and I stopped for a proper refuel. It meant others caught me but I was flagging. Emma appeared looking very fresh and did not stop for long. I was in a big dip mentally- my achilles hurt, my shin was sore, I was hungry and didn't think this ring was great. Oh dear. Still with ultras if you feel bad you know it will be OK later. I arrived at the A6 and Hackthorpe alone and promptly missed a turning near the deer park. I wasn't lost but did slightly longer and with a little more climb than was necessary.

 I did get to run through a deer enclosure with nobody else and got very close before the deer slowly moved off a few metres. My spirits lifted a bit as did my speed because the two guys behind me never caught me up. From the high point by a wood it was a big track almost all the way to the self clip at High Knipe. I crossed the R Lowther on a lovely suspension bridge and headed to Bampton and Bampton Grange along the river.

 This ring took a slightly different line back from Rosgill and involved a field of intimidating cows. In the end they did no more than look. The ring had taken longer than I had hopped but it was longer at about 24 miles.  This time I refuelled with rice pudding and cake.
I grabbed a head torch and an extra layer but could not be bothered changing my socks. My feet were not the issue. I suddenly realised I should text the boys and be clear that they should eat without me and perhaps even go to bed. Mistake. The reply from Chris said they were in A and E as Matthew had stitches but they had burst!  Apparently they'd be fine without me. So, should I carry on and run the 3rd ring? In the end commonsense prevailed and I decided they were big boys, had a car and could sort it out but I twice nearly turned back in the first mile. As I left Shap for the third and final time unnamed lady was only just in front and before we crossed the M6 we were together. Once the food had settled I felt good and pulled ahead on lovely wide grassy paths towards Oddendale and Pot Rigg.
Last photo due to dim light and racing hard
On the way to Lyvennet Beck I spotted a runner of course- it was Graham who I hadn't expected to see again. That meant Emma was probably not too far ahead either. We crossed the B6260 and the route got interesting again. Up onto the limestone, past a big stone cross - the jubilee monument on Beacon Hill. Then into Great Asby nature reserve and another lovely path through the limestone. Somewhere here I lost Graham even though I stopped for a wee. I was flying down the track and then road and into the CP with two very cheerful marshals. My good spirits were back and I was loving it. There was a short section of road towards Great Asby and then fields and track towards Gaythorne Hall. I had a slight dither after a stream crossing but only seconds before I was sorted.  The road section to Bank Moor looked long on the map but it passed quite quickly. I left the road at the high point and set off down a wide green track, down and down to Crosby Ravensworth.  I still hadn't seen any runners ahead but I was running fast so I must be gaining on them? The evening was still warm and even now I was regretting put on an extra T shirt but too concerned with running to stop and take it off. Around Oddendale I thought I spied runners up ahead. Yes. I couldn't see them around the quarry area but I was convinced they must be there. Running worried about getting home is certainly motivating (cheers boys). The motorway bridge is nice elevated and they were even closer. I was a bit cheeky as I just tried to hang in behind but no let on I was there. Fortunately it was not really dark and my eyes had got accustomed to the dimness. I held back until Shap itself and then sprinted. I finished about a minute after Emma but knew she had started earlier than me. I had not idea of her exact time though. First job was a phone call home. I had definitely done the right thing staying to run as Matt had gone to the pub to watch the England match with his mates. Chris who had had a night out on Friday was having a lazy night in. How different they are. So another in the RF series completed and some good points scored. (now know it was first lady in 14.23 and a new ladies record by over 10 mins- just glad Nicky and Gaynor were not able to run even tho they had entered)

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