This is the course that we checked out last week. Today was the event. Lots of snow had fallen in the Lake District overnight and we really were not sure how conditions would be. When I woke up this morning there were clear skies and I thought that we were in for a mild day. Bearing in mind the forecast and the snow overnight, conditions were as good as we could ask for.
|course and elevation. It's pretty constant uphill for the first half and then downhill with some moderate uphill the rest of the way with a very steep descent at the end coming down Owsen Fell.|
|From the top of the first hill looking towards the woods.|
Blake Fell, the highest point on the course is the right hand
hill. I think the other hill is Sharp Knott.
This was my first fell race. I was a bit nervous but have done plenty of road races and we did the recce last week so I felt like I had a bit of experience.
We got to the race fairly early but parking at Lamplugh was still tight. After signing up, Jonathan and Gerard set off for a warm up while Andy and I had a walk up the first hill and back.
We watched the juniors race. There were some impressive performances but I'm always struck at the difference in size and build of juniors, it really doesn't seem fair for some of the smaller ones when their fellow racers have obviously matured quicker and are taller, stronger etc.
The juniors did one or two laps of their course, depending on their age. It was amusing to see the pushy parents living vicariously. Soon enough, it was time for the seniors race. Gerard, who is still injured, was going to pace Jonathan around. Andy did the race last year in about 47 minutes. Normally, that would be his target and I thought it might be a good target for me, but conditions today meant that times were likely to be a fair bit slower. Reports were that there was a lot of slush on the track through the woods and deep snow beyond.
Jonathan was hoping for a sub 1 hour, which I thought was a bit conservative but, again with today's conditions, it was probably more realistic.
The farmer that owns the fields that the race starts and finishes on is fairly emphatic about people not trespassing. We did have a run over on the recce last week and there are plenty of signs reminding you that it is private land, some more polite than others.
With a "5,4,3,2,1" we were off. The first half mile or so is a climb and it took me a while to warm up into it. The course then cuts across to the woods where a queue had formed waiting to hop over a fence. This gave me a much needed opportunity to catch my breath before hopping over, following the path down through some mud and then joining the forest track. This is the long gradual climb which goes south into the forest before a hairpin turn back north and through to the edge of the forest.
|"NO F/PATH - PISS OFF"|
I paced myself on the climb through the forest, sticking behind the runner in front when I perhaps had the energy to overtake. I knew there were steep climbs coming up. I was pleased to be able to run all the way to the edge of the forest.
At this point, the course climbs steeply up to Sharp Knott. The snow at this point was deep and, thankfully, the runners ahead had made footsteps.
Pre-cut footsteps in the snow did mean that the procession up the hill to Sharp Knott was pretty much single file and the pace was comfortable, allowing me to get some energy back.
From Sharp Knott, there is a small downhill before the steep climb up to Blake Fell. The snow wasn't quite as deep here and I took the opportunity to overtake a few stragglers but it was a hard climb and I was glad to be at the top.
|footsteps up to Sharp Knott|
The top of Blake Fell is the highest point on the course and also marks the point where the overall uphill changes to an overall downhill.
I've still got a bit of a knee niggle so wasn't able to go full pelt on the downhill sections. I did put the camera away at this point though because I was going a bit too fast to take pictures (most of the time).
There is a nice section from the top of Blake Fell down and then back up to Burnbank Fell. There were some deep snowdrifts on this section, people disappeared to waist level and I soon learned that you can't keep going when the snow gets deeper and found myself sliding along on both knees, a bit like a footballer who has just scored a goal, except that I sank down into the snow as I slid.
The snow took a bit of the harshness out of the descent but overall, it was fairly tough going. I tucked in behind a runner and followed them the rest of the way.
Energy wise, I felt just about right, I had a bit left for the climb up to Owsen Fell and was then on to the part I was dreading, coming down the steep side back to the field. I slowed down and took my time descending, getting down without hurting myself. The track got very slippery at the end and then there is the section where you have to run between the fence and the wall. This had been made very slippery and was not fun to run along.
|section between the wall and fence|
Once back over the fence, it's a pretty easy run over the grumpy farmer's fields back to the start.
My time, according to my garmin, was 49.38. This seemed like a good time and I was more than happy with it, beating the 50 minutes seemed like a good goal. Andy came in a few minutes later and then Jonathan, paced by Gerard, came in at 53.34.
As well as a rest, there was much appreciated hot drinks, cake and flapjack at the finish line.
|climbing up to Blake Fell|