10 Peaks Long Course

27th June 2015


I decided not to do the Extreme again this year as I wondered whether it contributed to me struggling in the UTMB in 2014 and having entered the L'Echappee Belle race I thought the 10Peaks Long would be a better training option. Pre race preparation took a bit of a hit when I was asked to talk at Holmfirth Harriers Annual Dinner on the Friday night; the plan being to drive up after the dinner and sleep in the van. The dinner was very enjoyable and it was a quiet drive up. I fell straight asleep at 1.30am with the alarm set for 3.50am but was woken at 3.30am by people getting up for the Extreme start. It was probably a good thing as when I walked into the Event Centre at 4.05am it was about to close and the buses were due to arrive. Paul, Mark and Mat (this is me and Mat in the photo) whisked me through registration and down to the buses. I sat next to Ross Litherland and we chatted about the route etc as he knows it well and was 2nd last year.

Arriving at Swirls carpark the midges were out in force and after a short race briefing we were pleased to be started off. I took it steady up the 1st climb to Helvellyn walking behind Mary Gillie. The 10Peaks Long is in the 2015 Run Further Series and it had encouraged more entrants which is good. On reaching the summit it was claggy and people were diving off in all directions. I stopped to take a bearing and followed it down and out the clag. I spotted Ross below and so headed his direction! Reaching the road then the carpark we were told that the 1st runner had just been through. We had been joined by a young lad Alex and we ran up the valley together. The sun was out and I soon got too hot but we kept each other going chatting. Heading up onto High Raise we got a good line and kept catching Stewart Bellamy (who was 1st). Climbing Bowfell the heat was blistering and I dropped behind thinking I couldn't stay with Ross and Alex and would tell them to go on. However across the rocks to Bowfell I caught them and we were now in clag with a breeze. I immediately felt happier and got some food down. We found all the lines across to Esk Pike catching Stewart in the process. Alex was funny as he was from Suffolk and although was currently living near the Cairngorms seemed to think the Lakes hills were massive! He also wasn't used to the rocks and in his trail shoes was all over the place. He took it all in good spirits though and kept up easily - although aged 22 helped I think! We talked about 2014 when Ross had navigated while two lads stayed with him; then at Honister one ran off and beat him. We discussed the ethics of this and while Alex was adamant that he wouldn't beat Ross as he knew that me and Ross had saved him hours already Stewart was quiet. The clag stayed with us across to Scafell Pike and Scafell with me and Ross navigating well through it. I was feeling much happier but knew I hadn't eaten enough so got a bars and a packet of cheddars down on the descent to Wasdale. Ross was a big kid on the scree and Alex was a quick learner at scree running. 

Running in the valley towards Pillar Ross dropped back and said he was going to make a break for it up Pillar. I agreed and told him he deserved to win. We all ran and chatted getting nearer and nearer the huge mound that was Pillar with the steep climb and the clag looming above. Taking a direct line it was good going at first. Ross started to pull ahead and I let him go. Alex was starting to find the climbing hard and dropped back. Stewart would have liked to catch Ross but I could see Ross was pushing hard and already opened up a big gap. I just climbed at my pace and hoped Alex would catch us. The climb went on and on especially when we had to climb loose rocks when we seemed to lose height rather than gain it. I watched my altimeter though and that gave me encouragement. Alex dropped out of sight and although I didn't like dropping him I thought it would only be a matter of time as we had more big climbs to come. Reaching the top we set off towards Kirkfell happy to be running again. We made great time and I felt good on the contour path to Beck Head. Great Gable felt ok but we went slightly wrong on descent. Stewart said "see you later" then took a line to the left of Green Gable while I went to the right. But I went too low and ended up contouring round to get back on the Borrowdale race route line. I told myself off, ate some food as I think I was feeling hungry and had a good run to Honister where I saw Stewart leaving as I arrived. 

I was annoyed that I had gone wrong and so quickly had some coke, got some gels and crisps out of my drop bag and headed off up Dale Head. I went on my own line across to the valley and down to the road. The track went on forever and was so hot. I was catching Stewart though! I had decided to run the road to Nichol End Marine beforehand for ease of running but now also I thought it would be more shady than the footpaths. As I was coming into the CP I saw Stewart there. He was cross I had caught him. We ran together through to Skiddaw and climbed together both of us puffing in the heat and with the exertion. I just didn't want to be caught by anyone now. I knew Stewart wanted to beat me and couldn't be arsed with the tactics anymore. I wanted to get under 12 hours and knew that on the Extreme in 2014 I had taken 1.57 hours to Skiddaw then 58 minutes to the Finish. It was 2.15pm at Nichol End so maybe it was possible but maybe not. I had to be running faster than in 2014 but wasn't totally convinced.  Reaching Skiddaw summit it was 3.53pm. Stewart had said that he was taking a direct line to Keswick and that was fine with me. We split with me taking the path down. I felt so much happier than in 2014 when my toes and quads were so very painful. I kept looking at my watch as it was moving so slowly (or maybe I was covering ground so quickly?!). Trying to run fast made my stomach hurt and so I tried deep breaths for a while. As in 2014 I ran down to the road, passed my van, into Fitz Park and into the event centre. After quickly dibbing I collapsed on the couch fearful of fainting as I was so hot now! I finished in 11.34 hours having descended Skiddaw in 42 minutes!

Ross had finished in 10.46 hours taking 4 minutes off the record. A well deserved win! Stewart's direct line had paid off as he beat me by 2 minutes. There was a massive gap then before Mary Gillie came in in 12.39 hours followed by Alex who had had a bit of an epic but did really well and finished in 12.54 hours. These are the results on Sportident Results

Paul came round with a couple of pizzas and we all had a slice. There were a few Short Course finishers in as well and Raynet sat in the corner quietly and efficiently tracking runners around the hills! It was lovely to be able to sit and relax but I had to get home so had a quick shower, more pizza then headed back to Yorkshire.

Thanks to Paul and Mark for putting on another well organised set of races and also for distributing leaflets about my Training Day I have had a few bookings but there are still places available.