My 55th Birthday Celebration -  the Joss Naylor Challenge


As I had such a great time on the first Joss Naylor when I was 50 I decided that I would like to repeat this on my 55th birthday as well. The date fell on a Friday though and so getting support was more tricky however I gathered enough together to make an attempt and as my brother Charlie, his wife Carol and my neice were coming up on Thursday it would be lovely to complete the Joss on Friday and then spend the weekend relaxing. I had decided to try for the Sub 12 hour time even though at 55 I had 16 hours. I used the same schedule as five years ago but I was worried that I wasn't as fast now as I was then. But it was to be a good day out whatever!

Moving to Galloway and packing for the Joss was tricky and I had a few last minute panics at not being able to find stuff. I stayed in Pooley Bridge on Thursday night and waited for Charlie, Carol and Lottie to arrive with excitement. We had a couple of drinks in the bar then I retired to bed as I was setting off at 5am on Friday morning. The forecast was dry, a bit windy from the north and an average of 10C. I chose to wear a Inov-8 Base Elite Long Sleeve under my  Inov-8 Mid hoodie as layering is always tricky but the Tri blend material is silky and so I thought the combination would work well. On my legs I also layered up wearing my  Race Elite shorts under a pair of  Inov-8 3 quarter tights  For shoes I was wearing a newly worn in Mudclaw G 260 v2

Joss and Wisp have done all the reccies with me but Wisp is now 10 and I thought it would be better if she ran from Kirkstone to the finish. Joss however could do the full crossing! I made them up drop bags with cheddars, sliced roast beef and pork pie in them hoping that she would wolf that down at the crossings.

It was a very low key attempt - Charmian said she could do road support for Kirkstone and Dunmail then she needed to get off to organise a race. Charlie was going to drive round to Wasdale and so was Steve Sanders so we thought we would be able to get everyone back to Thornthwaite. We met in the carpark at Pooley Bridge in the dark with my brother getting up early to see me off too. I set off with Kirsty Hewitson and Matt Bennett who were both doing a stint before work!! It was cool but dry and I settled into a rhythem of losing a minute and gaining a minute. I didn't want to push hard on this leg at all and tried to just run when I felt like it. The clag kept coming and going which was odd and I was glad when it looked clear across Leg 2 and beyond. Joss was funny as he kept looking behind for Wisp - he's not used to being the only dog!

We arrived at Kirkstone Pass about on schedule and it was lovely to see Lottie and Charlie there. Wisp was bouncing round and Joss was pleased to see her. I had a few minutes eating and then set off with Steve Sanders and Steve Wathall up Red Screes. Wisp gave me a telling off for leaving her and then she was off with Joss out front. There was a cold wind at the top of Red Screes and I was glad of my layers. The leg went well and I was settling into the pace although I didn't feel quite as springy as I would have liked! There were some people on Seat Sandal and when we got nearer it was Brent and Julie shouting encouragement and taking photos. That was really nice of them. Down to Dunmail we ran just on schedule again and now I was happier!

I wanted some rice puddings to go as it was hard eating bars now and quite cold too. I said goodbye to Charmian, hugged Charlie, Carol and Lottie and left Dunmail with Helen Elmore, Charlie Elliot and Tim Rippon and of course Wisp and Joss - both having enjoyed their breakfast!

I knew I had to run the section to the Langdales and did so making sure I took the lines I had reccied. The plod up Raise is never pleasant and today was no exception. I was glad to reach the top and again on schedule. I think we just kept dropping minutes and gaining them. Easting wasn't that easy and I certainly didn't feel like I was about to set off motoring like I had 5 years earlier. I was running off Raise when Helen shouted and said she would have to go back with her dodgy knee. It was a shame to see her go but it was the right decision before she got any further. Charlie and Tim shared out the food etc and we set off again. Joss and Wisp knew the way and dived into all the ponds they found.

I ate the rice pudding and honey coated cashews and kept running. It was great to make time to Rosset using the Tom Pape line which Charlie and Tim enjoyed too. Up to Bowfell the wind picked up and was getting a bit annoying now. I like the rocky section though and got blown across to the summit and back again. Over to Great End with the end in sight! The dogs didn't like the way down the nose but we were soon running down the grass to where Simon Rippon was jogging back and forth trying to keep warm. Tim Rippon headed back to Dunmail (and that's a long way as I'd done it in a recce!!). We sheltered behind the Coffin box while I ate the rice pudding and had some lovely warm coffee. More food for the dogs too!

Over Leg 4 we went and now I was making myself run more. I was just under the 12 hour schedule but the wind was blowing me about and I just wanted to get a good margin under 12 hours and finish. Gable, Kirkfell and Pillar came and went and we were all pleased to be getting onto more grassy ground. Steve Sanders was waiting for us at Scoat Fell which was great and he came out and back to Steeple with me. I was working my support hard and I did feel a little mean but I asked them if they were ok and both Charlie and Simon said yes.

Running up to Haycock and off I was making sure I found the line across to Seatallon but I pushed a bit hard up there and got a stitch. I backed off towards Middle Fell because I wanted Simon and Charlie to catch up and finish with me. Steve was there and took some lovely photos on the top of Middle Fell. I was really looking forward to seeing my family and hopefully Joss at Greendale Bridge. The dogs were loving the descent and I let myself go until the steep bit at the bottom. Round the back of the houses and over the bridge we ran in a time of 11.42 hours

Charlie and Carol had just arrived and Sue Naylor was there with Joss. What a lovely birthday! Joss gave me a card which I will cherish. 

Road Support: Charmian Heaton,

Leg 1 Kirsty Hewitson and Matt Bennett

Leg 2: Steve Sanders and Steve Wathall

Leg 3: Charlie Elliot, Tim Rippon and Helen Elmore

Leg 4 Charlie Elliot, Simon Rippon and Steve Sanders

We drove back round to Thornthwaite where I enjoyed a bath while drinking a beer! Then off to the Coledale Inn where the staff were very accommodating and found us a huge table where we had birthday tea.

Gallery of mixed photos - thanks to everyone that took photos

Part of the Joss Naylor Challenge is to raise money for charity and so obviously mine is Odyssey; It would be nice to reach an interim target of 22,000 for my birthday !