|Nervous in St Bees|
It has given me time to reflect and this blog will be an experiment with something different rather than beginning at the start and going through to the finish.
I should perhaps explain that the NT follows the route of Wainwrights Coast to Coast from St Bees in the Lake District
through 3 National Parks to Robin Hoods Bay on the North Sea. It is about 190 miles so with errors I probably ran about 192 in total.
|It's a long drive in a car!|
I tried to base these on my experience from the Hardmoors 200 but forgot that I had not receed the Lakes section as I know the area quite well. This first section was harder than anticipated just in terms of running the trail.
The rocks and tree roots along Ennerdale and then the wet, mud etc from Kidsty Pike and along Haweswater were all hard work and less runnable than the lovely grassy paths in the Wolds last year.
|Warm near Ennerdale|
I also do plan, a bit. Nothing like the detail of John Knyaston but I had a spreadsheet of distances and possible splits printed on waterproof paper and easily accessible to me during the race. It is nice to tick off the miles and good to have a bit of focus. I also knew after last year that my plan would be flexible. I was particularly concerned in terms of sleep as my spreadsheet showed I was not likely to be at any of the main aid stations with sleeping tents at a time when I would want to use them.
|and we're off and the nerves can stop|
|5th Oops, a steady start?|
I should thank those that I ran with on the first chunk and Matt for suggesting an ice cream at Ennerdale Bridge. Darren and I ran from Kidsty Pike to Shap and beyond before he sadly had to pull out. I was alone for the section after Kirby Stephen and suffered a bit in the heat past Keld. After the A19 road crossing I met up with Matt again and we spent almost all of day 3 together. It was good to have company and we pulled each other along. He also suggested a food stop at Lord Stones. We had to wait for it to open but the poached eggs on toast were superb.
The trail was varied. For me the worst section was the track up after Rosthwaite - a stony track where I just couldn't get into my stride. The most runnable was perhaps the short grass on much of the Shap to Kirby Stephen section.
There were lows and there were highs, mentally as well as in altitude. Not too many lows but the rain on the first night meant stumbling along Haweswater in the dark was tough, the second night seemed very chilly. The damp and slightly frosted tall vegetation soaked my legs that night and after a short sit on a stile I woke as my face hit the wet grass. This night at 3am was the worst and I doubted my ability to run the SW100 in June and almost phoned Bob to say how bad I felt. Fortunately I told myself not to be so pathetic and to get on with it. I don't usually mind the heat but somewhere around Keld I found I was running out of steam. I needed more food and water but there wasn't really anywhere suitable. There were more highs. The 3 poached egg breakfast was amazing. The lie in the sun at the Lion Inn with my feet up on a chair to help the swelling and being served by the CP staff there revived me. The sunset over Angle Tarn was beautiful and I really wished I had my camera then. Matt and I finding a litre of Buxton spring water when our supplies were very low had us both ridiculously happy. Getting lost on the final moor but then sorting out and staying cool under pressure made me so happy I blasted from there to the end. Finally Bob coming out to meet me when one torch had died and the other was getting dim really lifted my spirits on the section along the coastal Cleveland Way.
For me food and eating can make or break a long ultra and I think I have learnt a great deal since my first long race of the UTMB 5 years ago. The food at our CPs was superb and the staff there were so willing to find exactly what you felt like.
|Can see why Stuart thought I arrived grumpy now!|
|Nice to put my feet up but hard to eat, drink and get organised from there|
|Arrival, feet up and about to leave- what a difference the CP made|
Big thanks to those that made me fried egg sandwich at KS and Richmond. The soup at Rosthwaite was great although I should have eaten more there. Shap was very welcome after the wet night and I had more soup, cups of tea, bread, custard etc. By the Lion Inn I was onto crisps, soup but should perhaps have eaten more. I did have chocolate milk in my drop bags and I know this always goes down so well. I carried baby bel cheese, nuts, chocolate bars (yes, bad melting), a big sausage, lots of Mountain Fuel to drink which I found very good- some energy, salts and easy to drink as a mild taste. I also had a few mocha caffeine gels which seemed to do the trick when I was flagging. I had made flapjack but ate little of this. My only mistake was a Costa Coffee at the A19 and the Snickers bar that I had with it. Trying to catch Matt through Ingleby Cross I threw up.It is hard to know what I will fancy and this was something that made the unsupported nature of the race harder than the H200 where Bob kept appearing in the van and asking what I would like.
|Looking after each other (we look about 90)|
The weather could not really have been better in my opinion. It was warm but not crazy hot on the Saturday. Wet over the first night but not torrential rain and a bit chilly on the second night. Perhaps a bit too hot on the Sunday and Monday but I would rather that than being cold and wet as I hate running with my hood up. There was no clag to spoil the views or to make the nav hard.The navigation was fairly straight forward but not as well signed as the Wolds Way and Cleveland Way. Fortunately I was with others to Ennerdale Bridge and then either knew the area or had receed the rest of the route. I made few errors and most were very small. Matt and I missed one turning early on but soon put it right. I made a slight error after Orton in the dark on an area I thought I knew well, again it was soon corrected. My most annoying mistake was at Crackpot Hall. I convinced myself that after the hall I had to turn off the main path and only realised this was wrong once I had dropped all the way to the main river. I missed the turn for Wray House farm on the second night but realised this when I met the level crossing and had to turn back. Getting lost on the last moor was comical in retrospect. I had passed a wooden post with C to C on it. When I dropped into a gorge I knew it was wrong but my solution was to try to re-find the wooden post- in the dark and with a failing head torch. In the end I recognised this a daft and concentrated on just getting to the gate and track off the moor. I was so proud that I had stayed cool and sorted it out that It really buoyed me up for the last section to the finish.
|I kept my pebbles|
As far as sleeping was concerned I knew to be flexible. By Shap I was ready for quick lie down but it was bright and busy plus I was eager to get on. When I reached KS it was the start of the second day and I was reluctant to waste day light hours so just had a quick lie down for 10 minutes. Perhaps that's why Matt stormed past me near Keld. By Richmond I knew I had to sleep. It was too bright in the tent at first but I did get two 20 minute snoozes before heading off into the night. I rested longer at the Lion Inn than I had planned but the company was good, a rest with my feet up was needed and it gave me the chance to eat more. The sleep monsters were not a problem the first night but during the second night and then the start of the third as I ran into Robin Hoods Bay they became interesting. Marsh grass became the peaks of tents, bushes were dogs, a salt bin was a person crouched by the road side. I probably talked to myself but there was nobody to hear.
|Above Glaisdale, day 3|
|All the women finished.|
I have met many people who have offered their congratulations. Some of these I was not sure I knew which is always embarrassing. There are 3 in particular who voiced their admiration and congratulations which meant a lot to me; I value their opinions and so their words did make me proud. Also my now adult children were clearly very proud of me and Bob is supportive as always. One of my birthday presents from him was a pair of Whitby jet ear rings. John Kynaston has done a chart of splits and these make happy reading too.
It was an active recovery. After falling into bed at about 2am on Tues I was up for breakfast and then sat around in the sun until lunch time. Bob then drove to Scotland as I slept in the van.
The next day we did a lovely walk up Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnian.
|Spot the green NT sweatshirt|
Fortunately I had anticipated swollen feet and borrowed my sons rock boots; there was no way mine would fit yet.
We then had a day and a half on Rum and managed the whole Cuillin ridge with a wild mid camp.
The weather forecast was spot on- a dreary damp Sunday and a wet Monday. I was pleased to get a rest and to use cafes and a laundrette.
Then it was 10 days of non stop scrambling, walking
and climbing on Skye before the LAMM
|Not often you get to sunbathe at mid camp|
My birthday treat was on Skye- a day with a climb, an abseil,
a scramble and a skinny dip in a river to wash and refresh. Perfect.
|Bastier Tooth Skye|