Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Clif Bars Lakes 10 Peaks

A bit of a mouthful but a great race. Race no.7 in the Runfurther series was a race within a race as the Lakes 10 has short, long and extreme versions. Luckily we only had to do the long - the extreme gets few entrants and even fewer finishers. Our long might only be 45 miles and so a 'medium' for Runfurther but they were a tough set of miles with over 5600m of climb and a sting in the tail.
I 'd been fretting about this race for some time. I am not really sure why although a day in wind, rain and clag on the route a few weeks ago had not helped.I somehow was convinced this could be the one to scupper any hopes of a Grand Slam. In the end the weather was superb- a bit warm and sweaty in the valleys but cool and misty on the tops. Even better I had good company almost the whole way round.

Having registered on Friday afternoon, put up display boards and banners plus been for a short reccee with Andy and Dick I decided I was hungry. Coffee and cake in Booths cafe did not fill me up so I ate half a freshly baked french stick of bread before tea. I still had room for spaghetti bol. Feeling hungry before a race worried me and I hoped my noble but perhaps foolish decision to donate blood on Thursday afternoon would not become a major issue. For most the race starts with a bus ride from Keswick football club to Swirls car park on the eastern shores of Thirlmere. We camped there overnight and so I gained an hour in bed although I did not sleep well.IN the morning the midges were biting so once Bob had bravely set up the start banner we lurked in the van waiting for the coach of runners and race briefing at 4.45am.
Nick was in the States for the Western 100 but many friends were here. I had a chance to chat to Dick, John V, Mary, Nicky, Carmine, Andrew and David before we were off. A quick dib of the Si cards at the bridge and it was straight up Helvellyn.
I am not great at fast or steep starts but did not want to lose those I hoped to run with later. I had to let Andy go but managed to stick with Carmine - he lives in Norfolk and must find it very hard to train for this. It was misty but less so than when Peter and I made our nav blunder last year. After the trig point I had planned to go west on the race line.
 I bottled it for a few minutes and then braved it. Just as well it worked OK as Carmine and a few others seemed to come with me. It was steep but we were soon across Comb Beck and onto the main path plus we had gained some time.
Our first CP was at Steel End car park but I had no need for food or water yet as I was carrying plenty and anyway having caught people up I wanted to stay with them. David and I left together and headed up boggy Wythburn. It was already very warm and only 6.30am. The Sportsunday photographers were a bit further up and their bouncy enthusiasm always puts an extra spring in my step.
A small group of us arrived at High Raise almost together and I was looking forward to the grassy descent to Stake Pass. My quads had other ideas and I had to ease back and cajole them a little. They relented and let me catch the other below Rossett Pike. Nearing Angle Tarn David and I turned left to join the BG trod up Bowfell but nobody seemed keen to come with us. It was hard work but I told myself it was the last big climb for a bit and it was cooler up there.
We left the summit for Esk Pike and passed others ascending from Ore Gap. Our route was faster but not by much. Around the Esk Hause CP a new group formed and I was pleased to see Stuart  that I had run with before. We quickly claimed the next peaks with just a small blip on the wrong sub-summit of Great End. The rules asked that only those on Scafell Pike by 10am used Lords Rake and we arrived at 10.05 to a misty and deserted summit. I am not sure it mattered much. We moved fast as a group and gave each other confidence. Stuart led us to the Foxes tarn route and we were going well. A dislodged rock bounced down and hit my shin and for the first time in a year my odd injury there was noticeable, but thankfully not painful. Crossing between the Scafell summits took slightly more than half and hour and as we breached the top with met Andy with three others who had come up the Rake. Most had already planned on descending to Wasdale and I knew for me the Corridor route would not be fast so I was pleased we would be sticking together. The BG line  started with rocky scree and a few stumbles but once on the runnable grass it was fun. We ignored the suggested line on the map and went down steeply and directly to the wall that let us contour to Lingmell Beck for water and the rather crowded tourist path straight to Wasdale Head. Sadly Stuart went  down to Bracken close and I never saw him again. Climbing out of the valley I was almost glad Wind Gap was out of bounds. Ted, a Swede on his first visit to the Lakes, Andy , David and I jogged and plodded up the path and into the mist yet again. My long sleeve thermal went on yet again. It seemed to take forever to reach Pillar and I had forgotten just how far west along the path it is. Being with, and wanting to stay with, others spurred me on and we made good time to Black Sail Pass and then Beck Head. I started to think about Michelle on her JNC and hoped it was going well. At some point before now I had eaten 2 egg mayo wraps, a chia flapjack and 3 gels but now I was running on empty. We had been warned that the fell CPs would have water and not much else. They offered Clif bars and Shot Blocks but I knew I could not swallow those and run. It made the climb up Great Gable seem a huge hurdle but I was keen to keep the others in sight and scrambled to the top just in time to join them for the drop to Green Gable and then the run to Honister. It was a joy to be on a grassy gentle downhill. Honister was crowded with tourists, Billy Bland relay runners and GB supporters. We headed straight for the YHA to dib and claim our drop bags.  I quickly changed socks and shoes at the same time as wolfing down chilli and rice, rice pud and cups of tea and coke. I felt fine but once we were on the coast to coast route I struggled. My quads revelled again and I felt queasy. Reluctantly I told the others to push on without me. I hoped I might catch them again but knew once I was running alone I would drop the pace. From the col behind Castle Crag we could see the whole Skiddaw Massif straight ahead taunting us. One last climb but what a monster. It took me an hour to trudge from Grange to Nichol End marine and now I could not face any solid food. I am sure my good run at Shap was because I ate so well and was cross that I could not seem to eat now. Gels and Chia charge would have to do. By Portinscale I revived a little and pushed myself to make up time. As I left Mill Beck and hit the lower slopes of Carl Side I could see David and 'my group' about 30 minutes ahead. I would not catch them but just seeing them spurred me on. Near Carl Side tarn Peter caught me up and we laughed at our pathetic attempts at uphill progress before he slowly pulled ahead. As I turned left for the final trig Peter passed me so he was only a minute or so ahead. It was chilly in the wind and mist plus it tried to drizzle. This and wanting to be back in Keswick somehow allowed me to up the pace; being downhill helped. I tried to catch Peter but although I spotted him a couple of times it was not to be. My watch showed that 15 hours was a certain and maybe even 14 hours 45. Spooney Green Lane was a treat- gently down on a good but softish surface; what a relief. When the A66 bridge appeared I was overjoyed. I finished in 14 hours 43 mins 57 secs- just 6 seconds behind Peter. Not managing to stay with David and the others was a shame but no longer an issue. The Grand Slam is still on and I was 3rd lady. True I was 3 hours behind Nicky who smashed the record and 2 hours behind Mary but I was happy. After a cup of tea from the RO I was still queasy so I hobbled back to the van to find Bob. A shower revived me a little and I was able to briefly chat with Andy and Stuart  who had just finished. Andy was sick but 1st MV60.

I retired to the van and collapsed on the bed while Bob walked into town for fish and chips. We later discovered that Dick had fallen on Gable and had been taken to Whitehaven hospital by mountain rescue. John V had stayed with him and sacrificed his run so big thanks to him.  Hopefully Dick will mend fast- he phoned to tell me no broken bones but they have kept him in.
It was a great event and I quite fancy the Brecon Beacon version next year.
More lessons were learned of course. Firstly running with others spurred me on but led to me eating less. Secondly long runs like Shap are all very well but not the same as big hills in the Lakes and finally giving blood so soon before an ultra was not a good idea.

All I could think of on the M6 is why are there no laybys with vans doing bacon and egg butties!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Between the ultras

I could not sit and do nothing in a fornight between ultras. I soon felt recovered from Shap and so there were two indoor climbing sessions, short runs checking Street O maps for the winter months, cycle rides around the Fylde in the evening sunshine, a day collecting data with my son abseling in quarries, a birthday run with Josie on Winter Hill, a speedy 10km while Bob was at the opticians and one rather long run round the Langdon watershed but with the out and back necessary due to starting at Fell Foot.
I love the Bowland Fells. There are places where I can run for hours and see nobody. True I sometimes come back cursing the bogs and lack of paths  but they are beautiful. Bob had plans for a run from Fell Foot so I decided on a route starting from there.  I hoped I would have time to get up over Parlic and to the gate east of Fairsnape and still fit in the Langdon Watershed boundary whille he went down from Fiensdale Head to Langdon Castle and over to Brennand farm and Dunsop. We might even meet up returning over Totridge if all worked out well.
It's a stiff climb up the lane and then up over Parlic but it passed quickly despite the drizzle. I chatted to 3 DoE groups and was soon on the peat. Once at Fiensdale Head the obvious paths stopped but I found trods and headed north. I knew to be wary of using the fence lines as new ones have been added but it worked OK mostly. The ground was less boggy than I expected with just a cover of wet from recent rain. It was also unpredictable- mostly I floated across the peat but every now and again it gave way and sucked me in. Long before I reached Hawthornthwaite Top and the toppled trig point the screaching of seagulls and other birds was driving me mad and it was just a little eerie in the mist. Crossing Holdren and Blaze Moss in the mist I made one mistake thinking I needed to go east not NE but I soon put it right and before long descended to the cattle grid at the top of the Trough road and the old county stone. I set off up Whins Brow hoping I might intercept Bob on his way over to Brennand Farm but I could see no footsteps in the mud. I turned east again and dropped down to the Mountain Recue centre at Smelt Mill cottage. The road was closed but one motorist seemed keen to argue about the detour despite a big hole! I trotted off down the roads and across the fields to climb Totridge and work my way home.  I spotted a lone walker up ahead and caught him by the trig. We had passed much earlier and he was convinced Bob must be ahead of me as they had met at Langdon castle ages ago. We chatted broefly about Bill Smith as his memorial plaque is there and then I realsied I still had some way to go. I guessed we both expected to be out between 4- 4 1/2 hours and I was not going to make it. I ran hard all the way along the fence line, missed the path at Saddle Fell and just kept going east until Paddy's Pole appeared out of the mist. A speedy run to the gate and round parlic and I arrived at the van breatless happy to just be a little bit late.  
Not fast but uou need to understand what the pathless bits of Bowland are like to realise it was not a bad effort. 32.5km Distance      4:27:06
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I then had time to have a strip wash in the van, change, make two cups of coffee and read my book while I waited for Bob. He had over-stretched himslef too but came back smiling.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

3 Rings of Shap

The 6th race in this series so this would mark the half way point (once completed). It is an event a bit different to most ultras as it is organised by the LDWA. I am a great fan of such events as they are low cost, good value with masses of food all the way round and at the end and always have really friendly marshalls. It is also unusual in that it is like a 3 leaved clover and you return to base- great for changing shoes and socks, collecting a torch and eating hot food in comfort. I had done this event for the first time last year and then a fortnight ago had receed it with Bob over a couple of days. It meant I was fairly sure that I would not need my map or race notes. A footbridge had been rebuilt so there was a minor change on Ring 1 and a rather overgrown woodland could be avoided this year.
We arrived on Friday afternoon to find the ROs a little stressed at the lack of access to the car park and camping field. It got resolved before dark.

 We set up the display boards and erected all the flags and banners.Then there was time for food before we met in the Greyhound for a Runfurther committee meeting. It was warm and sunny although the forecast was still for some heavy thundery showers, maybe.

Si entries at registration
At registration in the morning the kitchen staff were already busy with toast, tea and more. The origins of the event are a challenge not a race so all the 'prizes' go into a raffle. LDWA are moving into the 21st century and the event was using Si timing for the first time. Well before the end of the event they were hooked- quick results, extra detail, a chance to predict when runners would return based on times from the last ring and when they left the hall.
Runfurther committee study map changes
For me it was interesting to see how long I spent between rings. It turns out that I was very consistent at around 13 minutes each time. Neil the RO was bouncing with enthusiasm and he kept this up for over 24 hours. His enthusiasm was infectious. Andy talked about Runfurther and announced the spot-prizes at the race briefing and then we were off, sort of. You can start anytime between 8 and 9. There are narrow stretches, many stiles and stepping stones in the first few km so you either need to start bang on 8am and get ahead or wait a bit. I chose to wait until almost 8.25 and I did get a clear run which kept my feet dry on the stones over the river.
Not race day but never mind
My game plan had changed in the last week. Having decided to try for the Runfurther Grand Slam finishing was now the number one priority. I think I run best when there is no pressure. I really did not think I was pushing hard on Ring 1 and so I was surprised to pull ahead of Andy and catch so many others. I trotted on just doing my own thing. Ken Suter came bounding by at great speed. He won all 3 rings in the super fast time of 10 hours 38. The ground was so dry that I kept dry feet except for one short stretch on Mosedale.

After Hobgrumble Gill I caught a group debating the best way. Part of the confusion was this years route being a little different. I stuck to my plan and ran on.
One day I will explore this path N off Selside
The path east of the river was slower than the road but kinder to my feet. I arrived at Truss Gap 10 minutes up on last year. That was a surprise. No mini pizza this year so I grabbed some sausage rolls and pushed on. I spotted David Wilson up ahead and reeled him in whilst he was reading route instructions. It worked well for both of us as I knew the way and he helped me up my pace for a while. I made sure I ate and drank well- Joe Hill would be proud of me. I did work as I arrived back in Shap 22 minutes up on last year and not feeling I had really thrashed it. Back in the hall I was efficient but not hurried. I changed my socks and shoes and grabbed a sandwhich, cake and cup of tea as well as remembering to refill my water bottle and replace the food I carried. I was keen to be off before I stiffened up. Last year Ring 2 was my low point and there were bits I did not really enjoy. Now I knew what to expect and looked forward to the good bits. Again I just set out to enjoy myself. After the first few miles I saw almost nobody and I think that helped as I just ran at my own pace, and slowed to eat when I wanted to. I spotted Martin T briefly but apparently he got lost and I never saw him again. Again the ground was bone dry and it made for speedy running and no worries about slipping. I had changed in to the widest trail shoes I own and my toes appreciated it. I arrived at Great Strickland where the CP is behind the pub about 40 minutes up. Opps I felt OK but was sure I would pay for it. I stopped for food and to refill by bottle. It was very humid all day and I was determined to drink plenty. I knew when I crossed the A6 to enter the Lowther deer park that I was slowing down. I stomped the ups and ran the rest.
I was very glad of the water before the suspension bridge but did only jog the river path. Last year this ring was so awful for me I hoped my time would still be up. It was by over 50 mins, so mostly gained in the first half.
No need to change my footwear this time but my top was soaked so I changed that and grabbed my head torch although it looked like I should be back before dark.As I sat down to refuel Gary arrived. He had been chasing me at the start of the ring and must have had a better second half. I think even the LDWA ladies in the kitchen were awed by how much I ate in the 13 minutes I stayed. I started with a cup of tea, bowl of soup and two sandwiches. Then had cake and a meat pie with gravy. It was a joy to be eating well with no stomach issues. Martin T arrived and I wondered if I could leave with him and if I did for how far I would keep up. The next time I looked up he had gone. Ah well. It meant I could start the ring slowly and let the food go down. It was a slow jog all the way to the footbridge over the motorway. I spotted a green T shirt behind me and thought Gary was on my tail. This motivated me to run harder and I kept it up over the quarry area and out on to the grassy limestone paths. I love this ring as it is varied and very runnable.

Well. it would be on fresh legs.  Heading up over the tiny limestone crags I spotted the first glow sticks and then a strawberry! Too tempting to resist. I was wonderful, except I thought there could be a trail of them and was disappointed to find no more. Dropping off the moor to the first road I realised the green T shirt was gaining.
As we climbed to the beacon and memorial cross we both got a shock. Martin had been wondering who was keeping up the pace and I had not realised that although he had left the hall he had gone to his car to change his shirt. We ran together over the limestone and through the nature reserve. I was struggling to keep up but I had the advantage that I knew the way. We arrived at the field CP about 13 mins up on my previous time. I knew I had to let Martin go or I would suffer badly later.
No time for photos today- but ther are lots on our recee days
I caught him again before the descent to Gaythorne hall and was able to help with the nav and use him to pull me along. It was a flog from the hall up to the road but I knew I would enjoy the grassy downhill to Crosby Ravensworth. From here I kept my mind busy with loads of mental maths trying to convert km, minutes, last years time, etc. I settled on a clock time that would 23 minutes up, another that would be an hour up and finally a gold standard where I would get back inside 13 hours total. It made the lane and farm track pass more quickly and by the time I arrived at the cattle grid onto the moor it gave me a target. I knew I could get the gold target. Under 5km left , mostly downhill and plenty of time. I even stopped for a pee and then later diverted round a field to avoid cows, calves and a huge bull. Total time 12 hours 43 and a new ladies record again.
Could be my best race of the year
I must have tried harder than I had thought because I was almost tearful when I stopped in the hall. Chatting with Martin, the RO Neil and Si man Steve soon settled me and then I got a hug from Kerrie. They had been running as a threesome and a foot injury meant they bailed after Ring 2.  My feet were a little sore when I stopped but my legs were not too bad at all. More tea, cakes and curry and I was ready for bed. I could not face the trek to the shower so it was a rapid strip wash in the van instead. Once I was horizontal I could not get comfy and spent 4 hours tossing and turning before I fell asleep. I woke at 6am to find Bob had not reappeared. A quick panic and I dressed hurriedly to go across to the hall. He had decided not to disturb me and so sat chatting to Steve and Neil. He had completed his longest ultra to date and in under 19 hours. Only the dark and damp limestone had slowed him down on the final ring. Another confirmed ultra junky.
All that remained was to eat more, take down the banners and flags and pack up the display boards. We saw the last 3 completers of the 3 rings finish and Nick and Dick emerged from the sleeping hall in time for a chat and review of the race. Thanks to all the volunteers and the LDWA, superb.

An easy week in preparation

Tuesday saw me exploring from the Belmont area again. Having been west over Winter Hill last time I headed the other way. I went straight up onto the West Pennine Moors and took the track east and started to descend.

Then I spotted a stile and remembered the Two Crosses route. Across an almost dry bog and onto the grassy track that would lead me down to Turton reservoir. It was fast running around the reservoir and crowded with young, old and dog walkers.

 Then past the Strawberry duck pub and up the rocky track that was almost dry for a change. I ate my food as I climbed here. The couple I met at the top warned me of a herd of intimidating Galloway cattle. They were correct; the cows had lots of calves and there was a bull. Predictably they were on the track and guarding the gate I needed. I made a wide detour across some fields. Once across the Bolton road I climbed again to Darwen Moor and then dropped towards Sunnyhurst Woods. They were walking on the reservoir but walkers could still get through so I climbed back up to gain access to Roddlesworth woods for one last steady climb back to Hollingsworth hall and the short stretch of permissive path to the van. A nice 26km jaunt.

The week got hotter and sunny. Thursday saw me on a long slow cycle around the Fylde where I rather stupidly got burnt on my shoulders, chest and my feet tops through my sandals.I hadn't realised how hot it was thanks to the cool breeze on a bike. Hopefully none of the burnt bits will cause me a problem on this weekends race. Eventually in the evening it cooled a bit and I went for a short 5 mile run from home along the canal trails and local paths.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

I am sure the forecast was good

After such a great Thursday we dared believe that perhaps the heat wave was really on its way. Ha ha. We drove to Borrowdale via Keswick for a few extra supplies.The plan was that I could recee a bit of the Lakes 10 Peaks and get a good run with climb in my legs.

 I dressed accordingly and Bob kindly drove me to Stonethwaite. It was like a sauna running up the valley and I assumed the damp would burn off for another hot day. The early views were promising. By the time I was climbing High Raise I was doubting the weather.

It was not long before I was in low cloud and could see very little. At least it was dry and fairly warm. Descending to Stake Pass went quite well but on the way to Angle tarn it got cooler and I had to put gloves on. I was pleased to find the BG trod and arrive at Bowfell. Now it was cold, windy a slightly damp. Oh well. Keep running. Esk Pike came and went and then it was on on to Scafell Pike. I had a short rest for food but it was too cold to linger. There were a few people at the top but I did not hang around. The low cloud was damp and there were no views. I struggle to find the path to Mickledore but did eventually arrive at the stretcher box. Decision time. I was now wet and cold. It would be silly to climb Scafell so I baled. Annoying but never mind. I was also hungry but too cold to stop. It meant my brain did not work and I dropped much further than necessary before heading for the corridor route. So, unnecessary climb and I did not recee what I wanted there. The corridor route seemed to take an age and the weather was still foul when I reached the stretcher box at the tarn. Some guys there joked that the forecast said sun by 3pm. I was a bit warmer and so climbed Aaron Slack and descended to Mosses Trod. This led me easily to Honister and the rain stopped.

By the time I was on the path back to Buttermere and Grange the sun came out. I was grumpy. Why couldn't it have done so earlier. Really the fault was mine - not enough warm gear, no dry gloves, a thin cag and no over trousers.

 I did get dry (sort of) before I reached the van and was able to sit in the sun and wonder where Bob was exploring.

 By mid evening the drizzle returned for a spell and the wind became galeforce gusts. I am still not sure whether the recee was good and helped me learn or whether it has just got me dreading that the weather could be like that in a fortnight for the race. I felt sorry for anyone on a BG this weekend.

Shap and recees

Bob needs to complete the 3 Rings of Shap to get his long counter in the Runfurther series. He is sure he will do some in the dark and was keen to see what was involved. Tuesday evening saw us parked up at Oddendale with wonderful views across the almost hidden M6 and into the lakes.

 There was plenty of light left so we set off to check the return to Shap from Ring 3 and then back to the van for the start of Ring 3. It was only 7km and even me running backwards and forwards a bit only added 1km. I got back just before the rain which seemed horrid as the wind hit the windscreen but Bob said it was no more than a shower on his back. I w as hoping to test out me Petzl torch but at 10pm it was still very light so I gave up and went to bed.

Wednesday was for the remainder of Ring 3. It is the best loop in many ways and although I was tired last year I did enjoy it even then. We set off across short grass and what seemed to be big wide mowed paths.

The ground is undulating but it is all runnable. I explored a nearby burial mound and allowed Bob time to check his notes. The written instructions are pretty good. Before long we were passing the huge glacial erratic and descending to the minor road.

The verge of this led us south towards Orton and the limestone. After a short climb we reached the memorial cross on Great Asby scar and wonderful views into the northern Howgills and the Pennines further east.

We stopped to read the memorial and to soak in the views, after all it was a recee and not a race.

The path through the limestone nature reserve was great and it was warmer as we moved off the tops and out of the wind.

 I showed Bob where the CP would be and then there was a short section of road. I remembered the next section as a long climb up a farm road but today it passed very quickly and High Cup Nick and Cross Fell looked wonderful.

Crossing the next fields the sheep ran madly and one with huge horns got tangled in the wire fence. Bob got a smashed thumb for his thanks but the silly creature did seem to understand that we were trying to help him.

Gaythorne Hall is an interesting historic pile and we got through just before the cows.

 Again my memory of the next section was a long drag up to the real road but it passed in no time and I looked forward to the grassy path down to Crosby Ravensworth. It is a lovely village and without an discussion we agreed we could live there!

Unlike on race day I had time to admire the buildings and the old sandstone lump by the church.

 It was getting warm now and I feared the next section would be too much road. It did start as quiet lane but soon became a rough track and then a path across the fields. Oddendale is a cluster of at least 5 farm houses although I suspect they are not all farmers now.

 I raced ahead (well not really raced) and was back and changed but without the kettle on! We had eaten on the route but now tucked into bread and cheese with gusto. It was only early afternoon and far too many hours were left to just sit.
So we drove down to Shap and set out to recee Ring 1. This is the mountain loop and the shortest but perhaps the toughest. On race day beware runners racing who are not doing all 3 Rings.

I knew we would not keep dry feet for long although without a queue of hikers we were able to use the stepping stones. Wet Sleddale itself was fairly dry and it was only after Sleddale Hall that we started to get wet feet.

 Once we crossed the watershed and dropped into Mosedale it was very wet. I don't think this valley EVER get dry. I still felt fairly fresh but Bob was tiring a little so I explored the cottage and waited.

 The virtually pathless slog from the cottage to the wall on the lower slopes of Branstree was the toughest section.

 I spotted two big deer but they shot off across the fellside without letting me get close. I explored out to the funny trig point and also the two little tower cairns.

The views into The eastern lake fells and High Street were a bit hazy and into the sun but still worth admiring.

The grassy drop to the col before Selside was fun and then the climb fairly short.

I knew we had to turn left but tried to turn too early- Hobgrumble Gill is not a place to try to descend. We climb back to the fence and went on. Then it all made sense, for a few minutes. I was using last years instructions and Bob had printed fresh ones.

Ah. I found a grassy descent that cut the corner a little and we jogged on to CP1. Here I spotted another deer and this time it looked at me for some time before trotting off.

 Then came the United Utility obstacle. the footbridge was gone and the stepping stones inaccessible. We climbed their locked gate and used their vehicle track. I wonder what the instructions will be on race day? A rising traverse soon brought us to Tailbert. It was getting late and we were both flagging a little. We cut it short and headed for Keld. We probably only saved 2-3 km in the end but from Keld it was an easy run across fields and past the Googleby stone and back to the van.

 We moved the van a short way onto the fell near Hardendale and were happy with our day.
Thursday dawned bright and sunny.It would be very warm later. Again we dropped to Shap and after a few minutes in the New Balance shop set out on Ring 2.

This was my least favourite ring last year as it has so much track and road but perhaps I was also just tired after racing Ring 1 so hard. The start is up a wet, overgrown and rocky lane but fortunately it is only short. A few fields and the hamlet of Hardendale and we were off.

A turn to check on Bob showed the Lakes looking beautiful. Once over the M6 we were soon close to where we spent the night and jogging up through very pleasant open woods. Heading down on a lovely field I spotted beautiful green grass and stretched my legs out. Mistake. The bright green hid deep watery mud. One leg went in up to the thigh and I threw my hands down only to find them disappear up to the arm pits. It must have looked hilarious.  I used my spare top to wipe myself down and prayed that I had not drowned another camera. There was a slight route change after Reagill Grange with it's odd chimney pots where they skipped a bit of woodland with an awkward path.

 The first 3 fields after Reagill village are downhill and fun but then we met the cows (I am not a fan and these were decidedly frisky) and then the rough area where they have felled one lot of wood and planted another. Following the path here is awful for several hundred metres.

 What follows is good though, Several Km along the River Lyvennet almost all the way to the pretty village of Morland.

A few dinks through the village up steps, round corners and past the church and we were back on the river again.

The climb out of Cliburn goes on a bit but we had a 3 day old foal to entertain us in the sunshine. 2-3km on quiet road led us to Great Strickland and the CP at the pub.

 This bit was taking an age and I wanted to run so we split. In no time I was under the M6 and crossing the A6 at Hackthorpe. I found a better line through the common land and entered the Lowther Estate deer park. I set myself the challenge of getting back before my garmin ran out. It would be close but I could try.

 I raced down to High Knipe and the concrete block where the water would be. Sadly there was no water today and I had run out. I had a short play on the suspension bridge and contemplated filling my bottle with river water.

Running along the river was  easy even in the heat but I failed to find water even in Bampton Grange. I should have gone in the pub but was racing my garmin now. I almost made it. 2km from Shap it stopped.

Ah well. It meant I did not feel duty bound to race the last three fields and just as  well as the grass was almost knee deep and very energy sapping. Phew. back to the van for water and more water. Then a wash and a sit in the sun reading as I waited for Bob. He too had run out of water and it slowed his last miles considerably. We stoked up our energy stores with a bag of chips each. They didn't last long.
So. All 3 Rings receed bar the very end of Ring 1 and we had both caught the sun.