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.

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