The “Steep, Soggy and a bit Chilly Double” Trail Races

Well I think I can now officially call myself a trail runner having braved pretty rubbish weather to complete 2 races in the Lake District this weekend. The so-called “Dirty Double” turned out to be the “Steep, Soggy and a bit Chilly Double” but I can safely say that the Boyf and I had a great time.

We made the 4.5 hour drive up to the hotel on Friday, giving us a chance to scope the route from hotel to registration/start field (my planning had gone well and we were only minutes away) and have a relaxed evening of room service burgers and an early night. Thankfully Vodafone is one if the 4 SIM cards I have with me! #fb

The first major downside we discovered is that Glenridding village only has Vodafone mobile access. Thankfully we had 4 mobiles on different networks and 1 was on Vodafone (finally my lack of network allegiance and love of multiple devices was justified).

The second downside was that the hotel wi-fi was not that great. Connection in the room was sketchy at best and I don’t think there was a time when we both managed to get a phone, iPad or laptop connected simultaneously. I know we were up there to run, not sit online but it’s nice to be connected, keep in touch with people via Facebook & Twitter or even to be able to receive good luck texts.

Saturday dawned with wind and rain but all seemed well when we went down to pick up our numbers at about 8:30. Things had obviously changed by the time returned, after a brief spell in the hotel, ready for our race to start just before 12pm. We got chatting to someone waiting for their dad to complete the 10km and we heard the announcement that due to the weather the 15km Challenge that we were entered in was being combined with the 15km Race and reduced to the 10km course. The weather was so bad at the top of the 15km course that the organisers decided to make a “safety first” call to keep both runners and marshalls safe. You can see what the weather was like in this short video.

Kat Helvellyn  4

We popped back to the hotel to keep warm and returned ready for the newly rearranged start at 1pm. The Boyf had decided to keep me company this weekend so we positioned ourselves nearish the back so I didn’t get trampled by the speedy people in the start. Things started well with what felt like an easy run through the village and up towards the main part of the course, before long though the climbs started and it became clear that I’m not yet up to proper hill-running fitness, so I slowed to a walk where necessary. The downhills were great though, even when it felt like we were running in streams (it was raining quite heavily and the trails were more water than rock). I had a sticky moment at about 4km, I started to see white spots before my eyes and knew I was about to flake out, dizziness kicked in so I stopped to catch my breath and steady myself. A handful of Haribo helped to get me moving and we were back on it. The Boyf was sticking with me for the most part, but every so often he’d get a bit twitchy and head off up the hills at his normal pace, waiting at the top till I got there. As you can see from the photos, I was obviously having a blast despite the weather, a big smile on my face as I pick my way over the rocky path. Looking at my race stats I’m also really pleased with my pace for kilometre 8 as I managed 5:59/km pace…..here’s hoping I can manage that at a parkrun soon and break sub30.

Race done it was time for a hog roast roll and a hot drink before heading back to the hotel to remove layers of swampy clothing and try to get our sodden trainers dry for the next day. The highlight of our evening (other than constantly rotating key kit items across the radiators) was the meal we had in the hotel restaurant. I was slightly sceptical of the “black pudding” lollipop on our starter of pork belly and scallop but it was amazingly tasty, that was swiftly followed by steak & veg and a really nice dessert. Re-fuel done it was off to sleep in preparation for the next day.

Sunday was a bit less windy and slightly less chilly when I took a gentle job down to pick up our numbers. Hurrah! My legs still worked and it was only light drizzle, things were looking up. Even better news was that the race was going to follow the expected route, so after checking out we reported to the ferry landing for our 30 minute boat ride across Ullswater Lake to Howtown for the race start. The Boyf was running with me again and we set of at a steady pace, again with him running up the hills and me walking them. We were flying down a slope at one point when I turned my right ankle (not the one I had recently injured) and I let out a nice load yell. Thankfully it wasn’t really hurt, it was more a pre-emptive shriek and I kept going. There were a few flurries of drizzle but as we reached the top of a hill I managed to sneak a 30 second breather and get a photo of the rainbow that had appeared over the lake. I also managed to get a cheeky shot of the back of the Boyf at one point (not bad considering I was still running when I took it).

Running in the Lake District

The course was definitely tougher than the day before and conditions meant that some sections were really hard to run on. I had another couple of stumbles but nothing major and just kept my focus on going as fast as I could, whether running or walking, and ensuring I made it to the finish. I did feel a bit of panic set in around the 10km point when I noticed that my fingers had swollen up and it was hard to make a fist, research now shows that this is perfectly normal but when you’re tired and what feels like miles from anywhere, rational thought is not always the first that springs to mind. There was a weepy moment as we came off the trail onto the road for the last section but the Boyf gave me a quick in motion hug and pushed me on towards the finish. It was a huge relief to get there, but all in all I would say that I enjoyed the run and am looking forward to doing more of them next year.

It would be nice to say that the weekend finished as well as it had started, but having hit the road back South after a quick shower in the hotel we then spent 7.5 hours on the road as we faced one diversion after another. A definite reminder that UK roads are rubbish on a Sunday, especially at the end of half term.

So would I enter this kind of trail race again? Definitely….I just need to ensure I get fitter so that even if I still walk the hills at least I can make up more time on the downs and flats.  Just a reminder that we’re doing all this running to fundraise for 2 great charities, so if you haven’t already flung some money our way then please check out www.tailfish.co.uk/fundraising

More photos (if you can’t view the slide show)

Garmin stats for Saturday

Garmin stats for Sunday

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