Tuesday, 5 July 2016

SLMM - a favourite

This has become a real family favourite. So many of our friends are there either volunteering or competing, it's local for us as it is always in the Lake District and it has an unusual option- KLETS. After a number of mountain marathons I decided I was up for the challenge. It would be a big ask and I was terrified of going it alone never mind carrying all my kit. I used old maps from previous SLMM events when I had run a pairs course with Rowena and marked on the Klets controls. Could I plan a decent route (it is not a linear course but not a score either- just up to you to decide what order to get them all) and if I could do that could I actually run the route? Imagine my horror when in 2012 I turned up in Wasdale to find that they had tinkered with the format! That year we got all the controls for the weekend and had to decide which to do on each day. I lost sleep over this on the Friday but in the end the choice was either south or north of the lake and just which to do on Saturday and which to leave for Sunday. I was 17th, 6th vet and first lady. Now I was hooked. The next year near Black Combe there was an impressive field of talent and I was only 34th, 10th vet but still first lady (and only). Deepdale in Patterdale followed in 2014 with a smaller field where I was 9th, 3rd vet and the only lady. Last year at Torver I was so pleased that there were 3 women running. The other two both beat me but I was happy with my run, beat some men I did not expect to beat and was 3rd vet.  This year the event centre was near Pooley Bridge and for some reason the field was quite small.
Smiling marshalls- thanks Elaine

We arrived very early on Friday afternoon as Bob was on parking duty. He had decided not to run as the Pillar course was too much as like the Klets you have to get them all; not a score event. I wandered  around chatting, bought some new shoes from Pete Bland with vouchers I had accumulated and offered to help if need be. There were heavy rain showers and I retired to the van to eat a big meal and check my kit. The forecast for Saturday was for lots of heavy rain and it was chilly for July. I registered early, spotted some friends and then went to the van for hot chocolate and bed.
The forecast was correct although I was lucky and did at least get to walk to the start in the dry and even more important was able to mark up my map in the dry. Lying on the fell in the rain trying to plot checkpoints from grid references is not the best start to a weekend MM. The start was at the top of Park Foot campsite; exactly where Rowena and I started our first KIMM back in 2005. I marked up my map quite quickly and managed to overtake Digby by 8 minutes (it would not last). The order for the first few seemed obvious so I ran off. The first was about 8km away on the other side of Loadpot Hill. At some point I found I was running at the same pace as Haydn and it was nice to have company. Digby came racing past and Bill J shouted hello. By CP4 I was almost at Kidsty Pike but low down on Ranadale Beck. It was now very wet and cascading down my jacket. I could not decide whether to drop to Mardale Head or climb to High Street and then descend the rocky ridges at Blea Tarn. I will never really know which was the best option. The weather and chance of Haydn's company meant I went down. We then climbed with Phil, who was on 'Pillar', to our control on the rocky terrain between Blea Water and Small Water.  Next stop Branstree and an out and back from the Gatesgarth Pass area. I knew where the next CP was as I had been given it before on a different MM; a cave below Kentmere Pike. The following two controls were cruel; half way down to the reservoir, up almost over Mardale Ill Bell and then down again to a sheep fold (somewhere near the reservoir I pulled ahead of Haydn).Yet more climbing followed on the way to Thornthwaite Beacon. I had planned an out and back to conserve height here but it took longer than I hoped to reach the control near Grey Crag so I dropped to Hayeswater and then had to climb The Knott. My legs were now complaining big time and I could not keep up with Scott who I had met as we started the descent. It was a lovely run from the stream below The Knott to Satura Crag but I got carried away chasing Scott. We both descended too far on a nice grassy path until I realised the mistake and shouted. Another climb, and this time unnecessary. The final control below Angle Tarn  was easy enough, but the site of a mountain rescue as we passed.
Patterdale M Rescue at work
It was steep and the wet grass and mud made it very slippery. I was so glad of the aggressive lugs on the new shoes I had bought the night before. My feet were sore from the wet and the many kilometres of contouring earlier in the day but I did not slip over once. Our finish and overnight camp was at Deepdale- scene of the SLMM two years ago. I was trashed. I was so pleased to have finished but it had taken so much out of me. Roughly 34km with over 2500m of climb. 8 hours 43 minutes.
Look better than I felt even after food
Bob was on road crossing duty but told me where to find our friends. Just as well as I needed Mark and Albert to help me put my tent up. Rowena kindly went to collect my milk while I struggled out of damp clothes and collected water. Lots of food and drink perked me up but I seemed to spend most of the evening lying in my tent, cooking, eating and drinking.

The on and off rain didn't tempt me to lie outside or to socialise for long. It was nice to have Josie, Tony, Albert, Darren, Rowena and Jennifer to chat with and we watched two mountain rescues and helicopter evacuations from the same spot near my last control.
Josie dressed to party in the rain
Bob came back with the news that I was first vet by 30 mins and that sadly Julie had quit early on in the day so I was now the only lady on my course. An early night and eventually a reasonable sleep.
Sunday dawned bright and clear with a forecast of no rain. I put on wet socks so that I had two pairs on to cushion my feet and then struggled into damp shorts much to Albert's admiration. Having collected my control descriptions for the day at 6.30am I had marked up my map, eaten breakfast and was ready to go by 7.30.
Packed up and ready for action- didn't need the cag for long
I chatted with Tony about the best order to take the controls and then wandered off for a last toilet stop before the walk to the start. I knew my legs were like jelly from yesterday and was very worried about how I would cope. The straight line said 23km so it would be shorter but not short. Bob was back on road crossing so I got a good morning kiss on the way to the start. Even though I was early there was a bit of a queue as the last of the chasing start went off. Then began a steady procession as almost every one trudged up the gently sloping track to Boredale Hause. My legs did NOT think it was a gentle slope today.
Boredale Hause and the 'gentle' incline path
This wasn't the end of my climb; next came Place Fell, although fortunately I did not need to go all the way to the top. Over my right shoulder I spotted the two Klets leaders heading towards Beda Fell. Having got CP1 spot on I then lost concentration and made a silly error losing at least 5 minutes on the way to the next one. Sometime here it started raining, although not heavy rain like yesterday- so much for the forecast. The two or maybe three course leaders were well out of sight now. Leaving Place Fell the rest of us bunched up for a while before Digby shot off, followed by Pete and then Bill and Scott. Greg, Haydn and I were close behind as we contoured near Boredale Hause before climbing Beda Fell. The grassy path down into Martindale was wonderful and we were soon being waved through the gap in the OoB by a marshall (Richard) and the rain had stopped. Eight more controls to collect. Greg and I were now running at roughly the same pace and despite some very different route choices were were together for much of the rest of the day. After Dodd Gill we went opposite ways round Loadpot Hill but still managed to meet up at the CP. The remaining CPs were scattered from here to beyond the Cockpit and I was very unsure which order to take them in. I am still not sure even now after much studying of the map. Sometimes you just have to decide and get on with it.These hills have wonderful running on the grassy paths and when you are descending even off the path, BUT off the paths and up or contouring through bog and bracken really slowed my pace. I knew my mood was low and a sure sign that I was hungry. I munched on a strange mixture of sausage and flapjack which gave me enough energy to climb to the penultimate CP and then blast to the fell gate and down through the campsite to the finish. The photos may not look like I was blasting but I was trying my hardest. Somewhere in the campsite I lost Greg (I do not know how) and at last I was being cheered in on the finishing straight. Yes. Completed. An easier day of almost 30km but only 1500m or so of climb. 5 Hours 15

 I was shattered but managed to keep my humour at the kit check. Bob then kindly filled my water bottle and took my stuff back to the van while I got food and cups of tea.
Bob kit checking a winner
I knew I was first lady but also knew Digby was keen to get first vet. On Sundays run he did but fortunately my lead from Saturday was enough. When Martin Stone asked which prize I wanted it was easy- First Vet (nice to beat the men). I was in fact the oldest on the course so my handicap was good.
Prizes and volunteer rewards
The meal barely touched the sides and it took several cups of squash and tea to quench my thirst. It was warm and sunny for the prize giving and nice to be able to stand and chat.

We also raised over £700 for Mountain Rescue before people drove home and this will increase after gift aid and the SLMM add to it.. A great weekend yet again. Thanks to the RO, planners and all the marshalls.


  1. Well I don't like the sound of the wet. The last Klets I did about 5 years ago I was wishing for hot and prepared to carry extra water rather than wet/cloud so I don't envy you first day - although you don't mention that the weather affect nav - did it?
    The other thing about the nav is that you must be thankful you can read a map without glasses - I am on the limit now.
    So congratulations on your double first.
    Is it Digby 'Harris'?

  2. Ian not a fan of the wet as I quickly get cold and hate having to run with a cag and hood up, think it's the first Klets where I have got wet tho. As for nav, like you I struggle to read map in run but it was 1:25000 not 1:40000 thankfully and so easier to read. Nav on the whole was not hard altho I did make a couple of mistakes. In the mist it would have been tricky. Yes Digby Harris. Nice to see him again after a break