|The route for the following days travels.|
I dashed across to the church hall to register just before it closed - a very professional effort with a full kit check and photo ID session to ensure you are who you claim to be, before you were issued with your timing chip. At least with this done the pressure was off for tomorrow morning and one less thing to worry about… Plus being there at the last possible moment it meant no queuing either.
Retiring to the pub I settled for a couple of beers and to catch what little was left of the game (Wales continuing their remarkable performance in the tournament by beating the Belgians) to kill some time before heading to the start line for the 110k race, listen in to some of the briefing before clapping-off the runners on their midnight start… Before hunkering down in the back of the van for the night.
|The start of the 110k race.|
I attended briefing with everyone else, which unsurprisingly was not a million miles different from what I heard of the one for the 110, so it was just a case of hanging around in the ‘pen’ with the multitude of the other runners - around 500 of us to be precise, all of us eager to get going.
|Milling around just waiting and waiting for the start!|
|Feeling like we're leaving civilisation behind.|
|Hitting the wilderness.|
|Heading through the pass.|
|Starting the descent.|
|Picking a path.|
|Fording one of the many swollen mountain streams.|
|A bit grim, grey and soggy on the valley floor.|
|The start of the next climb out of the aid station.|
|The wind and rain setting-in, the hail started soon after!|
|Ruthwaite Lodge and its surrounding sea of green.|
This climb over Grizedale was long and slow with the wind howling, unable to look up a lot of the time through the rain and even hail blasting you in the face if you were to raise your head… I’m sure this stretch looks absolutely stunning without the low cloud and being able to look up around you, but today you were not really able to see or savour a great deal… Until you turned around as you reached a small plateau by the grandly named shuttered shepherd hut of ‘Ruthwaite Lodge’ and saw what you had climbed. Its a pretty awesome sight.
|Looking down Grizedale.|
|Crossing the Tarn.|
|The descent commences|
|The lake at Grasmere.|
Out of the aid station and we were off onto the last of the ‘big’ climbs, up and over Silver How before hitting the relatively benign loop from Chapel Style, through Elterwater & Little Langdale as we covered some of the common ground shared by the Lakeland 50 course but in a different direction for the most part… On this section we caught-up with a couple of Dora’s running buddies from her Radcliffe Athletic Club so there was more conversation to divert.
|Closing-in on the last aid station of the day.|
I sat down in the hall for more cheese & onion sangers, a cup of tea and some Red Bull and stretched out my leg in front so I could see what I had done - fortunately it was just a bloody mess that had oozed in to my calf sleeve all the way down to my sock and aside from seeing a fair bit of broken skin I couldn’t really tell what there was and how many stones I had gathered in it was well, although it must have been quite tasty as a lot of people were commiserating me at having to bail from the race at this late stage with an injury like that - so I just put on my best ‘Black Knight’ from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and insisted it was just a mere scratch and off for the final 10k stretch I forged alongside Dora.
|Loved that I only noticed the stack of stones long after taking the photo.|
As we made our way in the fading light across the final couple of miles before the drop in to Ambleside and the finish, I joked to Dora about us making good time and how we stood a decent chance to get in under the 10 hours mark, so if we passed her husband coming out to meet her just before the finish she would end up just waving ‘hi and bye’ to him as she charged-onwards focusing on the finish… And sure enough about a mile from the finish, just before we descended to the park in Ambleside, Dora saw her devoted hubby wandering towards us in the gloom - she briefly slowed to chat with him as he jogged with us before she kicked-on for the tape and the bowl of soup and a roll that awaited.
|Ullswater from the climb over Grisedale.|
Enjoying the welcome hot meal with Dora and her Radcliffe Athletic Club friends I was eventually peer-pressured in to getting my knee properly checked-out as it was not ‘just a scratch’ as I was trying to pass it off as. I thought discretion was the better form of valour on this as I was outnumbered by 5-1 so I walked over to the medical tent and for the first time ever used the medical facilities as provided at an event.
Chatting with the guy as he set to work cleaning out my knee, he informed me the week before he had been crewing on the medical team for some promo filming that Strava have done in the lakes about ‘kudos’ and doing things together, so I’ll have to look out for that!
His official professional verdict on the knee was ‘it’s a mess’ and needed to be properly stitched, probably in double figures. As he scrubbed away at the open wound he couldn’t believe I was not reacting or even flinching, let alone moaning in discomfort as most people would. I explained it is not me trying to be macho, but purely because of a lack of nerve endings in that knee from a previous footy injury and I genuinely was not feeling it… As my body was cooling down having stopped moving after 10 hours on my feet, combined with the temperature dropping as darkness fell, I was beginning to noticeably shiver, so the doc advised me to go away, have a shower, get changed in to something warm and return for him to do another clean-up.
Taking his advice I enjoyed a good shower in the Ambleside FC changing rooms and sauntered back for round 2. When the doc had finished he reckoned there was about a dozen stitches worth of injury as it was a diagonal laceration across the entire knee-cap. He reiterated I needed to get it seen-to properly at A&E and made me promise to do so before leaving his charge - he asked what my plans for travel were so I told him I was intending on driving back tonight. Reluctantly he said ok to that but to get it stitched as soon as I got back to Basingstoke, if I was to reconsider going tonight he told me where the nearest A&E was to Ambleside.
Having been patched-up I took myself off to the pub for a beer and to watch the end of the footy - not the best of games ending in penalties - before retiring to the van and a kip fully dressed in the sleeping bag as I was struggling to warm-up, with the plan of leaving around 2am to get back home.
Waking in the dead of night I got in to the driver’s seat and started the engine to go home - I managed about half the distance across the field before the van became bogged-down in the churned-up mud from others leaving before me following the deluge Ambleside had experienced for the best part of the day… And at this time in the morning there was no chance of getting out of the mud and away - I tried wedging bits of old wooden fence under the wheels for traction but that did not help get a grip, so I was stuck… I was certainly not getting to A&E either back home or anywhere in the Lakes!
A good night’s sleep and I was awake and eager to get off home at the earliest opportunity, but I had to hang around till lunchtime following all the presentations before the organisers could spare some bodies to help push me out of the mud and I could get on my merry way… By the time I got home after an uneventful drive the window of opportunity to get my knee stitched was not looking good - from experience I’ve been turned away from A&E as once a wound begins to scab they are loathe to interfere with it, so it looks like it’ll be slowly healing from the inside out… Fingers crossed it will be fine for the year’s ‘A’ race, the Lakeland 50 at the end of the month.
|Listening to the entertainment as we awaited the presentation.|
Speaking to the organiser about the problems with the parking, they were pretty miffed by it themselves - there was a large hard-stand parking area that they had used in previous years under lease but this year they had been denied the use of it by the owners who instead insisted they had just the field to use whilst they provided no back-up or assistance to get the vehicles in or out - so hopefully this is something that will not be repeated. Besides this, what I will do in future is to park on the hard-stand to the side with all the camper vans to prevent a repetition, especially as I now have knowledge of the event and will hopefully arrive in plenty of time.
A big thanks to the medic as well - this was the first time I have had to use one at an event - I know they are there to be used, its just I felt a bit of a plum for being such a muppet for needing to use one.
For the record, my time over the 36 miles was 9:47:20, placing me 270/449 finishers, so I was really happy with that especially when I was so near the bottom of the Jurassic Quarter field a few weeks back!
|Doing the 'moose' for the camera.|