10 Peaks Extreme
28th June 2014
The 10 Peaks Extreme was just that.... extreme. I was actually worried and didn't sleep well. I drove up on Friday and after Registration I went to recce the fields before Skiddaw as it's the last peak on the race and I could be in the dark there. I met Yiannis Tridimas doing exactly the same thing so we had a pleasant half hour. Getting up at 3am I ate porridge and fruit crumble then was ready. There was a short pre-race talk by Paul then we were off. Already route choice as Yiannis took the railway line and most of us took the road. I tried to take it very steady - that was my plan until Steel End carpark. Just see how the legs were. It became obvious at the end of the road that a lot of people didn't know where they were going which was interesting. On the summit of Blencathra in clag I let the front runners go then dived off on the gully route. Just about getting it right I arrived at Threlkeld ahead of some of them. There was about 4/5 of us climbed Clough Head together - the whole ridge was in clag. The weather was perfect really. Cool, little wind and claggy. We chatted and navigated along the ridge. Dropping to Grisdale Tarn I opted for the left as it's the only route I know well. Two lads came with me but we saw no-one. Dibbing on Fairfield we descended the path. Here we met a guy who had overtaken us running fast; Bill Williamson, Yiannis and another guy in a blue hat. All very confusing as we had been in a group of about 10 people.
That gave me a bit of a kick as I didn't want catching by Yiannis and if there is one person who I think knows the BG better than I do it is Yiannis! So I sped up. The lads sped up too and we got to Steel End to be told we were first. That was a huge surprise but one to be maintained so I continued to push all the way up the valley to Raise. To be honest I was now very competitive having never won a race outright and with the legs and stomach feeling good it could be possible. The clag burnt off and we caught walkers on the Short/Long courses.
I enjoyed the rest of this leg, I found extra water, made up a Vanilla pudding which was too running but went down well and I also bumped into BG and Joss Naylor attempts which was really sociable. Coming off Bowfell I had gained time on the next guys so made the most of my knowledge of the BG route to maximise that. I arrived at Wasdale, had a fruit salad and beans and carried on up Yewbarrow. I had promised my feet a change of socks (which I always carry) as there was a lot of stones in my shoes. Looking back I could see runners following me and so thought I was being caught so kept climbing until out of sight then sat down and just changed my left foot. The right one can wait till I have more time. I climbed hard but started to feel sick so had to back off. It was getting warm and even though I had filled my bottles I ran out of water suddenly. I still had energy drink but it tasted sweet and sickly. Anyway carry on. I kept trying to spy the runners behind me and thought I glimpsed them. Running as much as I could to Pillar I looked for water but there was none. Onto Kirkfell and all the streams were dry. I could barely manage food now but some crisps went down very well and settled the stomach. On the descent to Beck Head I met the Joss Naylor attempt with Macc Harriers support which was really cheery. The marshalls had water at Beck Head which was a god send.
I had been meeting loads of walkers/runners on the other courses; some I had seen before, some not, it was all becoming a bit of a blur. But nicely sociable. I tried looking about and taking in the views now and again; they were stunning. But someone is catching me so must press on. Great Gable was a hard chuffing lump, then down to the col. Thoughts of Skiddaw started creeping into my head. "How on earth am I going to get up that in a few hours if I feel so tired now?" "Shut them out" I thought. "Concentrate on the next hill; Dale Head". I only know the Borrowdale race route to Honister so took that rather than the suggested route. I could see people lower down and thought my route should be comparable. Dropping to Honister I saw red and white running in. I ran in and was met by the words "Oh, you are now first, two guys have just come in on the Extreme but have dropped out". "What!!? How!!? When!!?" I thought. I drank some coke, took some beans to go (as now I was first I had better try and keep my lead again) and a banana and set off up Dale Head.
The head, the legs and the stomach all had a massive row. "Why had I been pushing so hard? How had I been caught? Where had I been overtaken? Why am I doing this to myself? Why don't I just slow down and enjoy it?" I tried eating the beans but the stomach was on strike. I got half the cup down then threw the rest away. I looked back and saw runners climbing after me. "Oh no, not again; I am not going to lose whatever lead I might or might not have". So on we went. Descending Dale Head I was still carrying the banana so ate it climbing up to Maiden Moor. It went down well. The sheep looked so surprised to see me in such a rush; they looked so contented sitting there looking at the stunning views. "I could sit with them" I thought. No, must press on.
Reaching the top of Maiden Moor - now there was only Skiddaw to climb. "Only !?!?!?!!!" The road and forest trails felt nice and I had reccied them a week ago with Wisp my dog so remembered her fondly. Passing quickly through Nichol End just drinking some coke which was nectar I had my "get home" head on. Running the roads and fields to the base of the climb took 30 minutes. The last climb took 1.30 hours; and was brutal. Not only that but at 400m the wind picked up and it was really cold. Stopping I put on my 3/4's, Rab top, windproof and gloves. In that time my hands were frozen but my legs welcomed the cover and climbed better. Once again looking back there were runners; who knows which course they are on. It was a slight out and back to the summit so I ran it while ducking out of sight.
The descent was eventually worse than the climb with the sore toes bashing little stones in my shoes and the legs complaining. "Stretch out" I thought "lift the knees, change the stride". It worked, I caught runners and was getting down quicker. Concentrating hard through the woods as it was nearly dark I hoped for sub 18.30 hours. "Chips or Sleep?" "Sleep or Chips?". It was great; maybe I was first, maybe I wasn't. I had tried my hardest, enjoyed what I could, been through lots of highs and lows and now I was finishing. There was my van, there was the football club, there was the dibber, there it was over!!!! 18 hours and 26 minutes - and 1st Overall. There were minimal people and minimal fuss; just the quiet getting's on of an Event Centre.
I sat resting , then had a shower and went to my van for sleep. At 3.30am I got up for a pee and who should come walking passed but Yiannis on his way to the finish. Giving him a hug as he went on his way to finish in 23.40 hours (having also suffered from stomach troubles). What a hero!
Many thanks to Mark, Paul and all the marshalls / timekeepers for the event. It was on reflection ... Fantastic.
Sportident - 10 Peaks Extreme Results