After battling through Saturday morning London traffic and (arguably worse) 7 hours of dodgy radio stations, we arrived at our luxury accommodation, a giant tipi, at the YHA in the village of Coniston. After unpacking, chilling out for a bit and getting some food for the morning, we spent the evening in true glamping style… in the pub sampling the local delicacies.
With race registration only 5 minutes from the glampsite, we had a relative lie in, fuelled up and headed out. With hardly any clouds in the sky, there was much debate as to the tights vs shorts dilemma. In the end, three of use opted for tights, which we immediately regretted due to balmy +10 °C temperatures and (relatively) blistering sunshine throughout the whole race.
After registering, we headed together to the start line, with Ben and Rob running as a team and Shivam and Jen going solo. Receiving our maps and dibbing the start control, we were off – only 4 hours of running standing between us and cake!
The next four hours flew by! Team‑Ben-and-Rob and Jen followed a similar course for the first few controls, taking them over the beautiful Kitty Crags towards Dry Cove Bottom. However, after Jen gave the other two an introduction to free climbing by leading them up an almost vertical, scrambly gully, the two teams parted ways at the top of the crag. Team‑Ben‑and‑Rob turned south after Black Sails towards Levers Water and Jen instead headed up Swirl How and onwards to the Great Carrs (mainly to bag an extra control to make up for the one she ran right past just before heading up the gully!).
The Great How Crags ridge was absolutely spectacular, with views right out to the coast and the Irish Sea. Down at the Low Water control, Jen briefly met Team‑Ben‑and‑Rob, who were bounding down from their scenic route to the summit the Old Man of Coniston. No race would stand in the way of them bagging a Lake District classic Wainwright! Both teams chose the same route back down Walna Scar road to the finish line, with Jen back in 03:50:37 and Team‑Ben‑and‑Rob playing it cool by returning with only 1 minute to spare in 03:58:50.
Over on Team Shivam, the first 3 hours of his race went really well. He covered a lot of ground (not to mention the elevation gain!) and racked up the points to the west of the course, including a visit to Goat’s Water at the foot of the Old Man and from there climbing up to summit the lofty heights of Dow Crag. However, the dreaded cramp struck after 3 hours and Shiv reluctantly finished earlier than planned, with a time of 03:01:09. A real frustration, certainly, but no doubt Shivam will be returning to future races to settle the score!
We returned to race registration to download our final scores and, more importantly, sample the unreal cake selection. The gingerbread was a personal highlight. Team‑Rob‑and‑Ben came in 3rd in the MU23 category with 240 points and Shiv came in 5th with 130 points- still a cracking score considering his injury! In the F category, Jen came in 11th with 270 points.
After a team photo, we hobbled back to the car, had a quick wash and set off for the drive back. Surprisingly roads were really quiet and the hours flew by; Shiv having downloaded some outstanding playlists meant we were singing along to Taylor Swift, S Club 7 and Atomic Kitten all the way back to London. A great time was had by all and we can’t wait for the next round in August!