Tuesday, 18 September 2018

LDWA Red Rose 50

It was nice to be going to an event on an area that I mostly knew fairly well and where it wasn't really a race. Well, that's what I said until Gordon said Go. I felt a little guilty at not racing Hardmoors 60 as it was the 11th race in the Runfurther series and I like supporting Jon's events. This time though it seemed more important to support our local LDWA who needed the numbers if the event was to have any chance of continuing next year. Gordon and others had worked hard on the route description and it seemed a shame that it could fold.
Gordon - the route description man
It was a busy racing weekend with Glen Coe Sky races, Hardmoors 60, FRA Cautley, a mini MM, Robin Hood 100 and many more. Other friends were missing because they were helping at a JNC.
We checked out various sections of the route on the previous Sunday and Monday. I ran from Houghton to Mellor and then Tockholes before looping back to Houghton. This meant then I could drop Bob in Mellor on the Monday and he could do a linear reccie from there to almost the finish. He knew some of that would be in the dark. The text seemed good and it was worth the reccie to know the way after Darwen Tower. we should have checked leaving the fell before Hawshaw but both muddled through on the day.

Next decision was where to spend Friday night. Home or the van. Bob had opted for the 8am start so we drove to Turton on Friday evening and parked up just before dark. He was up by 6.30 and then dressed and ready to go by about 7.15. I tried to go back to sleep but was awake now so had a leisurely breakfast in the van, checked my gear and wandered down to the sailing club to register. The early start was just coming up the main road. Registration was very swift as there were fewer than 30 runners.

Plenty of time to chat to Albert who was running with Toney, Abi who was waiting for Mark S and surprise surprise Dave Kamis and Patrick Barry. The rain stopped and started and then stopped again. It would be a frustrating morning with the cag. I headed out to the start and was surprised to find runners lined up on the reservoir side of a gate. I went through and started a trend; no need for a bottle neck in the first yard! Gordon spoke a bit and then we were off.
I had told myself it was not a race just a challenge. No prizes, no points...... Thinking I might just trot round I had even told Dave Kamis not to rely on my for nav as I might not keep up with him. Sadly I never saw him and I think he did get lost a couple of times. After a few hundred metres I found the only runners ahead of me were Albert and Toney; they are stronger and faster than me. Climbing to the ridge of Turton I could see a stream of other runners not far behind me and expected to be caught soon. Instead it seems I pulled away. The drizzle was back and as I dropped to the main road it was heavy enough for me to get my cag out. Just as well because the rain was even worse as I ran towards Belmont. En route I helped a late walker with nav and then a group of walkers who had missed a grassy trod. Picking off others on the way to the San Marino at Belmont made me feel good even if they were walkers and joggers. As I drew near to the CP I could see Albert and Toney just leaving. I grabbed two jaffa cakes and set off for the big climb up Winter Hill. Although I did run bits of the ramp the boys were ahead and out of sight by the time I reached the top. The moorland fires had led to the creation of new 'roads' on the moor to allow firefighters access and to act as fire breaks. It looked very different.
Wet on Rivington Pike
The telegraph pole after Pike Cottage had the first self clip; presumably to make sure we didn't head from the mast straight to the Pike. A second self clip checked we had been to the summit of the Pike. By now there were lots of walkers and also mountain bikers doing an off-road Manchester to Blackpool Ride. The drop to CP2 at Rivington was speedy and I treated myself to a very quick cup of tea and tea bread.  Next was over the dam and a bit of lane and track running. I tried to think of it as a bonus with easy running. I spotted Bob up ahead and stopped for a quick chat then I met Ian F and we ran together for a short while. The weather was improving although a DoE group didn't exactly look enthused. After Healy Nab I was back on familiar territory and used the flat section to up the pace as I ran to White Coppice and then Brinscall. Albert and Toney had already gone but here I caught the lead walker/joggers. They didn't hang around at the CP but marched off with cheese crumpets. I instead opted for two cups of tea and more tea bread before setting out in chase. Ian, the lead walker, was running a fair bit and it took me most of the way to Houghton to catch him. Somewhere in this stretch the winning man overtook us all. The CP here was a little out and back which was slightly annoying but did allow me to see how far ahead Albert was. Yes, the idea that it wasn't a race had already got lost. I stopped for banana and custard and to remove my cag and refill my water bottle. The woods behind Houghton Tower were less muddy than I expected and I was soon at the level crossing. At least a dozen people were stood waiting. Later I heard the hoots of a steam train and understood why. The next woods made up for it with plenty of mud and water then the old cobbled lane through Alum Scar woods was greasy. Still I emerged on the lane leading to Old Doozies unscathed. A couple of fields and I was across the Blackburn road and into Mellor Brook. To me this was half way; the top of the loop. I rounded the corner for the CP to see Toney at the back of a car having deep heat rubbed into his side. A trapped nerve? was giving him pain and had seriously slowed the pair down.
This CP thoughtfully provided little over booties so I refilled my water and enjoyed a couple of sandwiches with my cup of tea. Fortified I set out for the relatively steep climb from the A59 up through fields to Mellor. It passed faster than I expected and I was soon zooming down Church Street. On the fields descending to the Blackburn road I could see the boys again and on the way to the next farm I caught them. The car park on the back of Billinge Hill was gated to prevent dodgy events (I have seen male pron there and a male friend waiting for DoE kids was propositioned there). It was deserted today and I really enjoyed my run down to the athletics track and out towards the canal. Being flat should make the canal good but I don't like tow path running and had to really talk to myself and make sure I kept a reasonable pace here. From the canal to Tockholes was new to me but the route description was perfect. Marshalls at Tockholes greeted me with real enthusiasm so I sat eating pasta and supping tea. I also refilled my water yet again.
Darwen Tower- so many photos, no wonder I beat them!
Once I reached Earnshaw Reservoir I was on familiar ground again and could switch off. It's ages since I have climbed to Darwen Tower from that direction and it was steeper than I remembered. The moorland path contouring above Darwen was very wet but not muddy really. I had given up any hope of dry feet by now anyway. The 'new to me' path was marked with canes and I was sure later runners would be very grateful for them in the dark as the path is small, vegetated and crosses several areas wet enough to be ponds. In daylight I was soon across this and on the big track to Cadshaw. By now I recognised the footprints of the only guy ahead of me and was amused to see he also knew of the tiny short cut on the field. There were plenty of people still enjoying Entwistle Reservoir and two small children raced me on their bikes. This time at the CP I settled for a cup of tea and fruit salad jelly. It reminded me of visits to my nana, especially when they offered evaporated milk on it! I was tired now but suddenly got a boost when the CP told me I only had 8 or 9 miles to go. I had confused km and miles and thought it was still further. I wasn't looking forward to the next section of lanes but knew that with a bit of effort I could still beat the dark.  I made two small errors on the way to Hawkshaw - one got me very very wet feet and the other confused me as I emerged unexpectedly on a lane. I soon sorted it and once at the farm on Hawkshaw Lane I knew the way across the fields to emerge by the pub. This time I didn't stop at the CP at all; the end was in sight. I lost some time after Affetside as a herd of very excitable cows kept charging behind me even when I slowed to snails pace. I had a scarey moment as I turned to wave them away as one skidded and stopped only inches from me but after countless stops and arm waving I did reach the stile and was able to run faster downhill to the lane for Jumbles Reservoir. It was getting dark under the trees and this made me cautious too. Fortunately the last half mile was easy and open enough to be light. 10 hrs 31 not too bad at all.

It took several cups of tea before I was ready for food but what great food it was. Home made soup, lasagne, a cheese board and Manchester tart. Wow. Rumours that the showers were not staying hot for long meant I just washed the mud and sweat off in the sink but even that revived me. It was about 10.20pm. Should I wait for Bob? How long would he be? Was there any point? The pull of my bed was too strong so I slowly ambled back up to the car park with Ian. Albert fell asleep in the sailing club.
Recovery
Bob was back at the van between midnight and 1am. He'd had a good run finishing within our formula of "my time plus 50%" and he was pleased to only be 14 minutes behind Abi and Mark.
A grand day out. I really hope they decide to run the event again. The CP staff and food were brilliant and it is good to have a 50 mile LDWA on our doorstep. Now he has a qualifying event I think I have persuaded Bob we should do the LDWA 100 next May as our birthdays treat.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Summer2018

It has become our norm to have the summer in France and to include one big foreign race. This year would be no different except the plan was for lots and lots of rock climbing. This was exciting but worrying as my last race was Nav4 Pennine 39 on 7th July and I was planning to return to the Grand Raid de Pyrenees for their 165km ultra on 24th August. Would I still be run fit?
We were away for over 6 weeks so the race report is a bit long, sorry.

I'd sort of believed maybe I could fit some running in between the climbing, ha ha. It was so hot we ended up climbing early, collapsing in the heat of the day and climbing again when it got cooler. Running was a long way from my thoughts. Sport climbing let us do quite a few routes a day so I was physically tired and also I was determined to lead all that I could and to push my standard, so I was mentally tired too.


We broke the journey through France near Chalons to climb at Cormot
No I can't climb 7 or 8s!
and Remigny and then again at Vergison. At this stage we had notched up over 50 climbs and I had worn a hole in my shoes - a trip to Decathlon put this right. Remigny was all we remembered but Vergison was new.

 What a fab place! Easy parking on the hill and even a toilet up there, a village lavoire that was cool enough and huge enough to swim in, a water supply and hardly any people.

We stayed several days and got a good number of climbs done. Solutre on the other-hand was full of tourists, the rock didn't look great unless you could climb 6c/7a and just didn't have the relaxed vibe at all.


Highlights of climbing were probably Orpierre, Baume Rousses and The Dentelles.
That was the sky that we had almost through the whole trip

You could probably spend the whole holiday in Orpierre and climb every day but we packed lots into our 4 days there.


The Dentelles caused us some consternation when we found the access had changed.
Sadly too windy to climb on the lacy bits on our last day, but a reason to go back
Our memories were of a desperate off road journey in and then finding a slightly better way out. However in the past couple of years the dirt road has been gated. On the plus side there is a nice new and huge car park, a natural spring and the walk in of about 1km is well worth it. By now it was very hot and we were searching shade for belaying and avoiding the worst heat of the early afternoon. 

We also completed two new (for us) Via Ferattas; one near Buis les Baroniers which was actually 3 routes that we strung together and one in Cavaillon.

 I belatedly managed a long slow run from Buis as well. Our last stop before heading for the Pyrenees was Orgon where we climbed and swam in the lake (with a snake!).
Have never swam by a snake before
I love Vielle Aure where the GRP is based and was happy to get there almost a week before the event as usual. We ran on the local trails and I had one day where I power walked and jogged the first 15km of the race route and then the last 10km too. I knew it was too late for any training benefit but couldn't sit and do nothing. I noted my times to La Cabanne, Col de Portet and Merlans and then prayed the race adrenalin would make me just a little faster.
The RO and the square

As the week progressed more van appeared along the riverside and joined our mini camp. In the village there was more and more evidence of the race with posters, banners, the marquee and then under the cover of darkness the big articulated lorry podium arrived.
Easy run down the valley
We ran a bit, explored, ate ice cream and waited for friends to arrive. We also got a bit of a shock when we found that in early August the routes had been changed so our time-sheets and printed maps were now wrong in several places. Oh well, it's a marked route so it will be fine.
3 Brit/ NW fell runner finishers

 Registration seemed very slick this year and we took the obligatory photos. I spent the rest of the afternoon sorting out my drop bags and worrying about which shoes to wear. The race briefing went on for ever and then the short English version was interrupted by runners wanting answers to stuff that must have been covered. It was nice to meet Jack again who had raced at the SW100 and won. I won't be seeing him for long in the race. I am hopeless at sleeping the night before the race but I did my best and was awake before my alarm at 4am.
Most Brits were celebrating the forecast for cooler weather but not me after 4 weeks of climbing in 30C+
Just time for breakfast, faffing, toilet and to walk to the square. I found Tony and Albert only to lose them again when I went to the loo. It would be good to see them in the race and even better to run with them but we all knew this might not happen. Before 5am I was warm enough to take off my windproof but the forecast was still for 6C on the Pic and also cool overnight plus some rain. The emotional music started and then the arm waving and the countdown. I made sure I was not too near the front and kept telling myself not to get carried away by the pace. I didn't spot Bob on the bridge in the dark as I was trying not to trip over heels but I did see Heather, Tony, Michelle and Abbi up in ST Lary. I managed without my head torch as so many others were so bright the path was well lit. Up the zig zags out of Vignec I chatted to Jack and then never saw him again. I later found out he was in the top 10 and racing well when a medical issue pulled him from the race with only about 12km to go. How cruel.
The climb to La Cabanne goes on and on but checking my watch meant I knew I was doing OK and the crowds at the chalets lifted us too. It was up and up some more through the ski area and just one short downhill  before the final steep pull up to the Col de Portet. 

By now it was light and the cameras and race drones were out. A quick run and we were down in Merlans with lots of supporters and the first feed station. It reminded me to try to eat early and often.
By now the runners were nicely spaced out and although I wasn't alone  it was nice not to feel crowded. I wondered where Tony, Albert, Carol etc were. The race moves into better and better scenery as it passes Lac Bastan. This year the route had changed after objections to so many runners in the National Park. It meant we took a much more technical route and added km and metres of climb. Hourquette Nere and Pas de Crabbe were harder than Barrages. It didn't seem too bad to me but I know Bob found it exhausting. Somewhere near Pas de la Crabbe I met up with Tony. He was much faster than me down the nasty rocky piste but by La Monji we were together again. Despite all the dry ground I had managed to step in a bog crossing a stream and so now had wet socks. We stopped, ate, refilled water and Tony waited for Albert. I felt shattered already and was now worried about being a DNF.

 Our route up to Col de Sencours was new and seemed harder than the gradually climbing old route. There were even some safety signs and a couple of Mountain rescue guys sat waiting.I stopped on a rock and ate and drank more. It was hot and I felt rubbish. I had set myself targets based on my 2015 time but couldn't help wondering how I was doing in the ladies race. I knew at least on V50 was ahead of me. I arrived at the Col in a bit of a state and felt sick which made eating hard. Sitting down just caused a rush of concerned volunteers so I got up and moved on. I felt like snails pace, especially compared to the front runners charging down. I tried to count the ladies descending and thought perhaps 6 or 7 were ahead of me. By the top it was cool and blowy. Not clagged in yet but not the usual distant views. 
Lac d'Oncet coming down from the Pic and Sencours
I felt so negative and rubbish that I even asked Heather and Tony where their car was. Jogging down I passed others coming up; first Tony, then Albert, then Carol, Simon and somewhere in there Martin too. 
You can just see the aerials on Pic du Midi- yep, it's a long way up
I knew I must eat so went into the hut for warmth and food. Soup with mashed potato in it went down OK but I couldn't face anything else. I could remember the next section quite well and knew there were some decent paths and even some grassy runnable bits. By now the weather was certainly turning. Also recent rain had caused some path erosion compared to just last year.We lost the flags in an area where cattle had chewed them but I was fairly sure I knew the way. 

By Cabanne Bareilles it was wet. The marshalls had huge ponchos and were fighting to keep the horses away. I should have stopped to get my cag out but at the time it was easier to reach for my windproof in an outside pocket.The rain got steadier as I climbed the last col. The easy paths towards Hautacam were now ankle deep and it was chilly. I hadn't stopped to eat enough but tried to make up for this at the feed station. I really struggled to get much down and although this was inside I was cold. I felt vaguely sick but so tired. I decided to lie down under a blanket. This was a mistake as I never got any warmer in all my damp clothes and should have just kept trying to eat.

 After 15 minutes I gave up and pushed on knowing it was only about 8km to Pierrefitte and our first drop bags. At least it was mostly downhill to there, although again there was a new bit that seemed to add about 1km. This is actually the lowest point on the course and what goes down must go back up again it seems.Thank goodness for drop bags. The chocolate milk went down a treat and so did a whole box of ambrosia custard (got some odd looks but who cares). I didn't manage much else but did swap some food over, refilled my water and Mountain Fuel and changed my socks. It was a joy to get out of wet clothes and be warm for the night.I then changed into dry shoes and regretted it for a few miles as they were less comfy. Before I left Tony and then Albert arrived but nobody else I knew. If I didn't fancy eating there seemed little point in waiting so I set off. It was still light but would be getting dark soon. Not that I mind. This section was new so I didn't know what to expect. It started fine but got steeper and more rugged. By dark I was struggling for energy again. At Cabane du Boussu I tried hard to eat and managed soup, coke, biscuits and more but then promptly threw it up about 200m up the trail. Retching then gave me a stomach cramp. Plod on. The guys with me were nice but there wasn't anything they could do. At Pierrefitte I had been chatting to a family and they lived in Cauterets and would be looking out for me. The last Col was awful but the drop to town improved things and I recognised some of the route from last years 220km.  I arrived at the casino, cool place for a CP, knackered. I didn't want food just a lie down and then fell asleep for almost 30 minutes. For me this is unusual and I have never slept on a 100 miler before. I woke just as the lady next to me set off. I had last seen her at 15km so was surprised to have caught her up. I had all I needed so off I went into town to trade banter with two drunks trying to find their way home. It was cruel to have to have to regain all the height lost when we dropped into the valley. The steep sections were narrow and the vegetation was wet. 

The very top before the drop to the little ski station of Aulian was almost vertical and loose. This year there was no loud party music but still the excellent staff. When I claimed I couldn't eat I was waitress served mini crepes and cups of tea. Setting off I knew the way from last year and it helped that those around me seemed to be in no better state than I was. 

A big drop to Grust and then more down to Sazos and Luz itself. Another drop bag was waiting. This time the staff asked what the box was so now the french have been introduced to ambrosia custard. I refilled my sack with some food I thought I might be able to manage, refilled water and changed my socks again. Suddenly I was tired again. I went to lie down and again fell asleep for about half an hour.
Pic du MIdi in the far distance- it's huge
I just couldn't help it although I did wonder who had overtaken me during these kips. At least it was a fresh day and light when I set off. This section was new and although initially steep it got better as we ran to Sardiche and a water stop. I felt better now and was managing to eat small amounts of bars and gels. not great but better than nothing. We were told 5km to Refuge la Glere and I had in my head which one it was from last year. 

In fact it was about 8km and was the highest one with the amazing views into the Neouvielle National Park and the most spectacular scenery of the whole route. Sadly to create a loop the inward route was really tough with lots of rock clambering. It seemed harsh to send us all the way up on such a difficult trail when we knew the next step was a huge descent back to Tournaboup. It went on and I letting me realise my mistake in which refuge it was. There were lots of raspberries as a bonus though. At the prize giving they recognised how tough this section was and promised to take the section out for next year. It's a shame as it is beautiful. The staff at the CP recognised me and I managed some soup. A group of 5 of us set off for the big descent. One guy was awesome and was soon way ahead but I surprised myself at being faster than two - I am not great on loose stony descents.By now we were running with the same people on and off so it was good to chat, smile and encourage each other. We were also getting caught and overtaken by people on the 120km and 80km races. The 120km runners were in no better state than us but the 80km runners appeared to be sprinting compared to our efforts. They did all appreciate me stepping off the path and were all very encouraging. I stopped at the CP for coke (ugh) and some food but it was roasting hot and I was keen to leave. Last year I suffered from a strange muscle spasm under my left ribs and now it started again. I made me stop, lie and stretch a few times but by now it felt like the home straight and after the trials of the night I was not giving up now. Cabane d'Aygues came and went only noticeable by the fact we now left all the tourists behind. It seemed to take an eternity to get to Cabane de Lude, but perhaps it was just my memory from three years ago playing tricks, and today the valley path was deep in water. Climbing to Merlas I got second wind. I didn't run much but certainly powered ahead of the guys I had been with. The last section was also freezing cold and I didn't want to waste time digging out my cag. I wanted to run and knew I needed food but still felt queezy. Three years ago the medics had a magic pill that let me eat again. I made the mistake of asking now. A very thorough medic insisted on taking my blood glucose, watching me drink coke and eat cake before letting me depart. It cost more time than I had intended but perhaps helped fuel me up the col de Portet. In the dark and cold I ran most of the way to Soulan. I was horrified at the hours I had taken. In 2015 I finished in 34 hrs 25 and although this route was different I had expected the same. It was several km longer, did have more climb and did have some tough less runnable sections but still. I tried not to despair and when I knew I couldn't scrape under 40 hours just jogged and made sure it was certainly under 41 hours. I crossed the finish line a bit dispirited and feeling sick and very tired (despite the sleep). Carole wanted to interview me but I just wasn't up for it. I staggered off to get my finishers hoody, looked at the food and decided to just head straight back to the van. I wish now I had taken longer and had time to find out and believe that all the times were about 5 hours slower and that I was in fact 3rd lady again. Bob was in bed but not alseep and kindly made me hot chocolate and warmed water for me to do a not very thorough wash. I was asleep in under an hour. Bob had found the new route to start to 80km tough. He ran with a friend and they gave ip/ were timed out at La Monji after a good day out.
Some of the photos above are now from the race but from our walks afterwards.
Sunday was prize giving and the closing buffet. I was feeling better if not cured. I still had not understood that I was 3rd. 

When I saw on the web I thought they had jiggled people around somehow as they do sometimes. The prizes started with our race and the ladies so it was a real shock to be called as first person to be on the podium. 
Look like a midget?
Where had all the other ladies that were ahead of me got to? I think 21 of us entered and 7 finished, a pretty dreadful dnf rate of 66% (the race overall had a drop rate of about 45%). 

So it just goes to show: never give up, don't base your times on a previous route and then beat yourself up, find out how to use the race results site properly and even ask on the way round how you are doing!

After an amazing closing buffet we set off for Piau Engaly to use my winning voucher from last year to claim two nights in a hotel. 

A shower and a real bed after 5 weeks in the van was wonderful. We also had two fantastic walks there and the scenery was superb - perhaps enough for me to be tempted by the 120km race that starts there. The walks included high passes and snow. 


It was a real treat on the second day to drive into the heart of the National Park and show Bob some of last years 220km route.


I have to go back after all as this year I won a week in an apartment for 2019. We said a sad goodbye to the Pyrenees and set off for more climbing at Seynes and then the Ardeche. Seynes was good but seemed hard and the Ardeche was hot, busy and rather polished. What a great summer.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Nav4 Pennine 39

I woke on Saturday at about 6am and my body was already saying 'No, this is too much, can't we just walk a bit, lie in the sun, drink beer and watch the football.' You'd think by now the heat would feel normal but I think it has steadily drained me. The NT was warm, Scotland was warm after Rum, The LAMM was very warm, SW100 was hot and last weekends SLMM was very hot. I raced hard on the Klets clocking up about 34km and 2400m of climb on day 1 and about 28km 1950m on day 2. I was shattered when I reached mid camp and needed a rest before I could contemplate putting up my tent. At the finish on day 2 I was totally wasted. It took several days to recover, rehydrate and to even contemplate sitting in the garden in the sun. But, I loved all these events and activities and having a ball with some great wins too.
I ignored my body and felt a bit better after breakfast but even sitting on the coach to Bowlees I was sure I would struggle today. The suspension bridge was closed so we had a leisurely walk down stream to the next bridge and then back up the other bank. All very calm and civilised although it didn't help Rory and Ken who were hoping to race hard and get back to watch the England match. I knew I had no hope of that so I opted to wear my England shirt and give my support that way. The start was typical no fuss Joe 'Any questions? OK off you go then.' The first CP was only 7 or so miles in and it was mostly flat so that means running! Long ultras mean this is not my forte but I tried hard to just go at a decent steady pace.

The front men were soon out of sight but I could see others spread out up ahead.

Nicola was very close on my heels but at this stage I just did my own thing. In any case I thought the threat would come from Carole or maybe Cass. Caulrdron Snout was in full flow- apparently there is no pipe to send water supplies down the valley, they just let it flow. I quickly topped up my water and set off for High Cup Nick. After a few km on the stone track it was a joy to drop off left onto grassy paths and down to the river. After the bridge more grassy paths led to one of the best views in northern England and to reach it from the east is wonderful. There was no time for photos today though as we began our descent to Dufton.

Down and down and down some more so that you arrive at the village road with quads screaming. I grabbed cheese, tomatoes, melon and filled up my water yet again. It was roasting now and I was hoping that Mountain Fuel would have enough electrolytes to do the trick. Just as I left the CP Nicola arrived. Oh heck, the race is still on. What goes down must go back up again so the next section was up, up, up. On the walled lane I could see Nicola not far behind but as we reached the open fell it was a little cooler and my power walk stomp seemed to be giving me a gap. John B was at the foot of Green Fell taking photos and joked that today few people were running even when they saw the camera.

I was scoping out where the next water would be to dip my buff, cool my head and collect more drinking water.

The pull up onto Knock seemed endless and it took a few hundred metres to recover enough to run. There was more flagstone path than I remembered and I was soon at the road snaking onto the aerials etc on Great Dunn fell. I had a gel and felt  it kick in. This fuelled me over Little Dunn and onto Cross Fell. I dropped the three guys behind me and caught the two in front. The ground was dry and my trod to the main path worked well. Jim and the water pipe at Gregs Hut were a very welcome sight. The water might not have been 100% pure but really we had no choice.

A runner who I had been close to since the start set off with me on the knarly rollercoaster track. He was determined and it really pushed me to keep running. He got away just before the descent into Garrigill but we were together again at the CP at the far end of the village. Ros and Neil had the radio on and were able to report England were 1-0 up! As I sat chewing a slice of melon they scored again. My garmin suggested 4.5 miles to run but the finger post said 3.5. No time to sit and wonder Nicola would be chasing me down. I like the last section along the river back to Alston. There was some shade and lots of grassy paths and even a mini bog (yep, i found it).  I couldn't really believe that I had kept my lead and managed to run so well today. At one stile I got cramp and ended up in an undignified heap on the floor but I knew the end was close. Along the final wooded path, spot the Runfurther flags, up the steps and breathe!

 7 hrs 06 so 22 minutes faster than last year. I was more than happy with that. Ken and Rory both finished in under 5hrs 30. It took several pints of water before I could move and eat Joe's famous soup. A shower and more soup had me back on track.  It is beautifully relaxed and sociable in the YHA.

 We sat munching, drinking, chatting and cheering in the next runners. Some then left to make their way home but a number of us stayed for a meal and drinks. Great to see so many friends- Stuart who I have not seen for ages, Cass and Nicola who I met briefly as they finished the Lakes Traverse in Shap and loads of Runfurther members.

 So pleased also to see Nick recovered and able to risk driving and running. He will have taken loads of superb photos as usual.
For me next is a rest. No races planned until the GRP towards the end of August.