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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

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