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Lakes Mountain 42 2018 – updated 6 April

Ponies at Askham

Many thanks to Joe Faulkner and his team for putting the Lakes Mountain 42 on, despite the conditions.  The race was shortened to about 26 miles due to the snow/ice conditions, but it will still count as a Runfurther “Medium” race.  For a full race report, see Nick Ham’s write-up below.

Loadpot Hill

1st for the second year was Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn in 4:16.

2nd was Ken Sutor in 4:22.

3rd was Harvey Lord in 4:32.

4th was David Chetta in 4:40, with Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn just behind him, also given a time of 4:40. Katie was first woman.

2nd woman was Catherine Niblock, 28th overall in 5:40.

3rd woman was Catherine Litherland, 30th in 5:43.

Chris Davies was probably 1st V60, 15th overall in 5:18, so he’s going very well again this year.

V70 Dick Scroop finished with V60 John Vernon in an impressive 9:17.

The full results are on Joe’s blog.

Nick’s photos are up on Flickr here the photos here are Nick’s too.  Loads of snow.

Angle Tarn

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  21 runners have completed both races, and Ken Sutor heads the list once more, with Josie Greenhalgh currently first woman.  Seven of those 21 have not yet joined Runfurther, so if you know any of them, see if you can get them to sign up.  That’s:

  • Mel Steventon
  • Stephanie Illingworth
  • Mike Ernill
  • Sarah Jones
  • Rosie Jones
  • Max Howard
  • Paul Booth

Place Fell

And here’s Nick’s race report:

Lakes Mountain 42, Sat 31/03/2018 (Nick Ham’s report)

It’s Good Friday and I’m about to leave for Askham when an email notification arrives from Joe Faulkner at NAV4: tomorrow’s race will be shortened by removing the Helvellyn loop. We will reach CP4 at George Starkey Hut and do an about-turn for home via Place Fell. A quick check of my Tracklogs map showed that the distance would be 26 miles instead of 41 miles (provided we don’t go wrong). The change was forced by the ground conditions (refrozen compacted snow drifts near the peaks) with strong winds and more snow forecast during the race. I had been following the forecast avidly and I was not entirely surprised by this decision.

On Friday evening between registration in the community centre and dinner in the Queen’s Head next door, the Runfurther crew was completed by me, Kevin Smith, Chris Davies and Dick Scroop. If Karen and Bob hadn’t been off enjoying themselves elsewhere in even more wintery climes, they would surely have been there too. With NAV4 we know where to go to get a right good Ultra under our belts.

Because of the shortened route we had a lie-in on Saturday. Departure was delayed by 2 hours to 8am, making the start seem even more laid-back than usual even for NAV4. In anticipation of things to come, we all set off in full body cover and waterproofs. Only one or two were brave (or stupid) enough to set off in shorts and no extra leg cover. As expected I was soon overheating and had to unzip everything in sight and roll up coat sleeves to lose the excess heat and allow effort to extend to more than just walking.

As we slogged our way upwards towards the darkening and lowering cloud base, the last remnants of sunlight in the distance behind us vanished and the first of the snow squalls blew in on the Easterly wind. CP1 at Loadpot Hill (5.4 miles) was reached in 1hr 15mins. We were already in the cloud and zippage had been re-zipped to preserve heat. Onwards we continued in the direction of High Street, initially downwards but mostly upwards. I remember from last year’s crystal clear conditions veering right across a rough area seemingly off-path to pick up the path left to High Street. However, this year we were in thick cloud and, following the obvious path, found ourselves descending to the left when we all knew we had to keep high and to the right. We deviated back up to the right to regain the path and turn right up it. We must have overshot Kidsty Pike 90 degrees in the wrong direction to the left.

Finally we reached the left turn and out-and-back drag up to the High Street trig. Here we met other competitors on their way back, running and looking more energetic than I felt. The wind was howling and the snow was driving in hard. The bitter conditions meant that everything was zipped up and wrapped tight to sustain life. I had two layers of leg covering (one of them windproof & waterproof) and could not believe the few with bare legs in those conditions. I feared for their safety. CP2 at High Street (10.2 miles) was finally reached in 2hrs 28mins. (Unfortunately my camera was playing up so much I could not get a single decent photo anywhere near High Street.)

I was glad of the chance to descend again and run to generate some heat. Problem was, my vision was so obscured by snow and dampness on my glasses and by the thick fog (cloud), I couldn’t see clearly enough to run confidently. Onwards I shuffled with others overtaking me, eventually passing the point where we joined from the right and continuing ahead towards Angle Tarn. I remembered last year running by sight and having no problem with navigation. I remembered one path to follow that would take us there. However, we started to descend and others around me stopped and started to traverse right and upwards again across rough ground and across a stream gully. It transpired that we (and many others before and after us) had been merrily descending towards Hayeswater after going around The Knott instead of taking a non-obvious right fork towards Angle Tarn. For the second time, what could have been a serious navigational error was nipped in the bud. This time, having other walkers and mountain bikers on the path to show us where we should be was a big help. We hadn’t strayed too far.

As I stumbled rather clumsily along the footpath I kept my eyes peeled to the left for any glimpse of water through the murk, which could only mean Angle Tarn. Finally it came. There was tentage and a sign of human occupation. John Bamber had set up a safety camp there to help ensure that we didn’t miss the checkpoint. (He would normally have been stationed on a more remote part of the second loop.) CP3 at Angle Tarn isthmus (13.2 miles) was reached in 3hrs 21mins.

Onwards we continued descending left towards Patterdale. As I descended out of the cloud and wind and below the snow line it was luxurious to be feeling warm again. I met faster runners on their way back up towards Place Fell. It would be a long while until I’d be following in their footsteps. I arrived in Patterdale feeling toasty and quite content. CP4 at George Starkey Hut (15.4 miles) was reached in 4hrs dead.

I soon left CP4 to return from whence I came, cup of milky tea in hand with teabag stewing nicely in the bottom. Sarah Smith was running down as I was climbing back up. She seemed to be going well but had experienced the navigation woe of descending to Hayeswater on the way to Angle Tarn. I was still pondering on whether to take the direct route up to Place Fell like I did last year or take the longer roundabout path. Although the weather felt quite benign down here I knew what it was like up there, so I decided in favour of the safer footpath option (less chance of falling down a precipitously steep slope and more chance of being found if anything untoward did happen). Shortly after taking the ‘safe’ option, my right foot slipped off a rock and down into a stream gully. For a split second I saw myself falling down the gully but fortunately, instinct made me put all my weight on my crouching left leg while leaning to the left and putting my gloved hand in muddy water. I knew what that meant for later.

It would be my first time up the ‘official’ route, and what a shock it was. It dragged on. The weather deteriorated dramatically as we climbed back into the cloud and into the wind and the driven snow. Ups-and-downs and false summits towards the top made me think we’d missed the trig point. Although visibility was almost zero we were following a trodden path so I couldn’t imagine how we could have missed it. Finally we passed a small tarn on the left, which I remembered passing last year on my direct route to the summit. I looked ahead and, sure enough, the terrain was rising once again, this time to the ultimate summit with trig point on top. Another runner was sheltering just below the trig to get his tally out before venturing up into the melee to get it clipped. By the time I got there he’d done the business and I took up position in his shelter spot to do the same thing, making sure I had a firm grip of my maps, tally and two drinks bottles before climbing into the teeth of the frigid horribleness to puncture square number 9 with the red plastic mini bed of nails. The prior extra wetting of my glove meant extra cold hand – all the more difficult for punching with. CP9 at Place Fell (17.4 miles) was reached in 5hrs 5mins.

It was impossible to know which way to go from Place Fell trig, so map and compass were pressed into service. We needed to go north-easterly. The compass bearing soon brought us to the trodden path we had to follow. We descended steadily to leave the snow, cloud and wind behind for the final time. Warmth soon returned to my hands and we could actually see where we were going again. A warm contended feeling flowed through me as we ran the steep but runnable descent to the Boredale valley, this time not missing the stile into the farmer’s field.

Past Martindale Church we went (no clip there this year) and onwards via the most direct route towards Askham. In the last few miles a lively Irish pair (Cormac MacDonnell and Robbie Heffernan) caught up with me. The upbeat tone of their banter and their relative speed told me that they were well fuelled and in good shape. They gradually pulled away to finish 9 minutes ahead of me. Finally it was my turn to run between the fell ponies back down into Askham, guided back to the rear entrance of Askham Community Centre by the Runfurther flag beckoning over the wall. I was pleased to complete the 26 miles (plus nav. errors) in ~7hrs 19mins, which was roughly as I had predicted. I was even more pleased to win a spot prize of a Mountain Fuel gift pack (Mountain Fuel is Runfurther’s newest sponsor). I really like that stuff; it formed my main fuel and hydration strategy throughout the event. It works.

Perusal of the results informed me of phenomenal performances once again by ‘those who can’ at the top of the field.

1st for the second year was Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn in 4:16.

2nd was Ken Sutor in 4:22.

3rd was Harvey Lord in 4:32.

4th was David Chetta, with Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn just behind him, also given at time of 4:40. Katie was first woman.

V70 Dick Scroop finished with V60 John Vernon in an impressive 9:17. Knowing what the conditions were like on the summits, I had been concerned about Dick but I needn’t have worried. What an inspiration they are.

After enjoying the NAV4 soup, tea and cake, the evening was whiled away with fellow runners in the Queen’s Head with live band letting rip in the back room. I’m glad to say that conversation remained just about possible.

Final note: Joe Faulkner and the NAV4 safety team were spot on with their decision to shorten the race. At lower altitude we have no idea what it’s like up top and the less experienced might question their decision. They know. They were right.

Descending to Boredale

Lakes 42 2017

The Race

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Apologies for the delay in posting this, but I was away walking from Devon to South Wales, and only got back home last night.  Well, on to the race…  A sunny day and a great race by the looks of it, although I was busy packing for my week’s walking rather than running.  I’ll post a link to what I’m up to once I find the time to write it up.  I don’t think the race results are up anywhere yet, as I write this, but we’ve got them, and the Runfurther leaderboard has been updated.  Casper Sijpesteijn won in 7:29, Ken Sutor was 20 minutes behind him, with Jonny Muir just 3 minutes behind Ken in 7:52.  Karen Nash was 12th overall, and first woman in 9:19.  Linda Murgatroyd was 2nd woman in 10:29, and 3rd was Josie Greenhalgh in 10:44.  87 finished, with 8 DNFs.

Four runners have run all three races: Karen Nash, Nick Ham, Bob Nash and Dick Scroop.  I know Bob and Dick are aiming at the Grand Slam this year, and I know Karen isn’t, as she’s not running the Fellsman.  Why?  Because she’s running the Hardmoors 200 instead – good luck with that Karen!  Whether Nick’s got the Slam in mind I don’t know.

Nick Ham has posted 205 photos to Flickr.  I’ve borrowed a few, and the rest are on his site here.

There’s a committee meeting in Threshfield on the Friday before the Fellsman: all members are welcome, details here.

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Karen’s Race Report

This is all lifted from Karen’s blog, which you can find here.  The layout’s better on Karen’s blog too!  I’ve no idea why the copy & paste did what it did with the photos, & no time to work it out!  The photos are Karen’s.

Not  even mid April and this would be the third event in the Runfurther ultra series. I love Nav 4 events – low key, tough, great support and wonderful food afterwards. To top it all off the forecast was superb. Well before registration we were parked up with flags, banners and display boards erected and lazing with a cup of coffee in the sunshine.

Being asked to supervise the car park gave me an opportunity to chat to everyone as they arrived and also to sign up a few more for Runfurther.

Dick and Bob checking route choices

We ignored the temptation of two lovely village pubs and after a meal in the van and socialising in the hall we turned in for an early night.

Nick looking like he is expecting snow not sun

Our alarms went at 5am and as I struggled out of bed I spared a thought for friends driving up on the day and the even earlier start they would have. The dark was chilly but I knew it would be hot later and I opted for shorts. I wasn’t alone. To keep it quiet and allow the village to sleep we were herded in the hall until the last minute and then a hushed group assembled outside the Queen’s Head before being told to ‘Go’. Those arriving on the day had parked down by the river so I only had a hazy idea of who was running.

Nick, Dick, Charlotte, Aleks and the Mercia crew were there on Friday night but I met Linda, Elise, Sarah and then Albert, Josie and Mick on the start line.
I started very conservatively and as usual struggled on the first, gentle, uphill. Josie seemed to shoot off ahead and I made a determined effort to keep Linda in my sights. Before many minutes we were off the tarmac and out onto the common. A group of horses guarded the gate but they were friendly and only one runner seemed reluctant to pass through.

A toilet stop on the common let Linda and others get further ahead but I consoled myself that it would be a long day and with no prizes for being first up Loadpot Hill. I surprised myself and before the first CP I had caught many of those who had overtaken me. Albert stopped for a loo break too and this allowed me to catch Josie. They were having a ‘steady’ day showing Mike the route. Bizarrely I was now first lady. Hmm, not at all what I expected.

As we climbed steadily the mist over Ullswater was replaced by the sunrise over the Pennines and then fantastic views along Kidsty Pike and across the rest of the Lake District.

Helvellyn was a hard pull up but we were being encouraged by the front runners passing on their way down to The Knott.

Vandals had stolen the self clip on High Street so after a very quick search we shot off on the next section.

Back the way we have come

Turning and then arriving at The Knott and the lumpy ground en route to Angle Tarn brought even more amazing scenery into view.

I didn’t care about minutes wasted I just had to stop for photos.

I enjoyed this section and got some good lines on softer ground. On the smaller isthmus there was a tent and I suspect they were still in bed. Our needle punch was on the big boulder on the first isthmus.

The path from here to Boredale Hause was wonderful and Travs from the FRA forum introduced himself. I lost a little bit of time on the descent to Side Farm but not too much – thank god for dry rocks. Real food at the George Starkey hut perked me up and I grabbed what I wanted and set of jogging and eating. Being speedy through CPs and feed stations can save huge amounts of time over a day.

I caught two runners as we joined Grisedale Lane and then concentrated on sticking with them and even picking off those ahead. The views into Helvellyn continued to amaze us and made the climbing seem easier. It was warm now and very sunny but not too hot. Once above Grisedale Tarn the half dozen or so of us fanned out in all directions. Some stuck with the Raise Beck path but I am not a fan of those rocky steps. I had hoped to pick the easy way diagonally over Willy Wife Moor but got pulled a little too high and had to track back and then down the forest edge. It was still preferable for my feet to be on the soft ground. Tom and his van were a welcome sight at the Wythburn church car park. I stopped to drink and fill my water bottle and again grabbed cheese and savoury snacks to eat as I climbed. I decided to ignore the OCT line and stick with the tourist path.

It was the right decision and armed with food and the camaraderie of a young guy from the NE I seemed to power up the tourist path. Then I spotted David up ahead. I had run with him for some of the Fellsman and was pleased to catch him as I had not seen him since Loadpot Hill.

 

 

 

Spot the line of runners

I used him to ‘tow’ me up to the trig point on Helvellyn and then along the ridge , down and up to Whiteside.

David climbing up from Wythburn. Photo John Bamber

It was busy on the tops and yet more and more stunning views kept appearing. The path down starts well and then as it swoops in zig zags there are some wonderful grassy short cuts. Out of water and thirsty I was pleased to find a stream and fill my bottle.

The main valley path was stony and my feet started to suffer. I tried to stick to the verges but then they ran out.

All the others stuck to the lane but I turned right into the fields and across to the campsite to give my feet a rest.

We all arrived at the road together so there wasn’t much in it. The CP at GS Hut was our last chance to refuel so I stopped for melon, oranges and then grabbed more cheese and savouries for the climb. I had not set plan for Place Fell but now knew I would stick to the path most of the way to Boredale Hause – it’s further but easier. I don’t think I could have climbed, breathed and eaten on the direct ascent!

Part way up Place Fell I found a dejected Andy Ford – a bad stomach meaning no energy had floored him. I tried to encourage him and he did stand up to try again. The Trig point is quite a pinnacle and I had to almost fight my way through tourists to the needle punch but I had beaten those on the direct route. I had now stopped taking photos and was clearly in race mode because I took clever lines from here to Martindale church and overtook another two runners. My foot wasn’t happy with the steep drop to Howtown but I pushed on, found water and concentrated on picking off the miles. I had a list of CPs and miles which when I checked suddenly showed me there were under 6 miles left and I was way up on time compared to the only other time I had done this race. This boosted my spirits even more and off I trotted doing mental maths and working out how good the PB could be. Arriving back on the common I could see a runner some distance ahead. They too were running most of it but slowing to a walk every now and again. By the cockpit I knew I was gaining so I pushed harder. From the fell gate it must be less than a mile. The verge was great, the rocky lane hell and then the tarmac meant the end was close. I didn’t quite catch Matt Neale but spotting him had pulled me along.

I was so chuffed to finish. Shattered but a PB by almost 75 minutes. Time for lots of carrot and coriander soup, real bread, countless cups of tea and cake. I couldn’t get the shower to work but Jill gave my a bucket of boiling water and the use of the disabled toilet room. Clean and changed I settled to more food and then moved to the sunshine outside the pub with a well deserved pint of Wainwright. I spent a very lazy evening chatting and waiting for Bob. I did think about walking to meet him but my legs were tired and I had no real idea of when to expect him. He arrived, with Charlotte after about 15 hours, and happy that the Grand Slam is still on.

Dick arrived much later having gone awol and then struggling with a nasty path and navigation issues.

But he did get a right royal welcome and a beer.

What a great event, organising team, wonderful Off The Grid catering and such superb blue sky weather. One to remember.