Saturday morning saw about 200 people gathered at the Memorial Hall in Shap, Cumbria, for the 10th Three Rings of Shap. Even at 8am it was warm and muggy, and it pretty much stayed that way all day. The route follows three rings of about 20 miles each, 62 miles in all, and it’s a great route but a very hard day. For the first time this year all five members of the Runfurther committee were there to run, and Nigel Aston was there of course, still aiming for his Grand Slam. It was good to see Kevin Hoult as well, last year’s Runfurther runner-up, still recovering from his ankle injury, but ready to attempt his first Runfurther event of the year.
Kevin’s comeback has started with a bang, and he was fastest to complete all three rings in a new record time of 11:39, 2 minutes faster than Iain Kelly’s time of 11:41, set in 2010. Kevin ran the last few miles with Lee Knight, winner of this year’s Hardmoors 160, but Kevin had started 20 minutes later than Lee. Kev’s ankle was a bit sore by the time he’d finished, so let’s hope that’s only a temporary problem. Matt Wilson and Martin Terry were next in, with Nigel 5th, so his slam attempt’s still going strong. Emma David finished just ahead of Karen Nash, but since Karen had started a few minutes after Emma, Karen was the fastest lady on the day, also setting a new record of 14:23: Emma’s 14:28 was also faster than the old record, 14:36 set by Clare McKeown in 2012. Nicky Spinks had withdrawn her entry and wasn’t there on the day – no idea whether she’s injured or not. It was good to see so many Runfurther faces, and great to see those records broken. The race results are here, and the updated Runfurther leaderboard is here. Trawden AC are now well ahead in the team competition!
It’s not formally a race, so although most people started at 8, many of the runners started a little later, to reduce queuing at the early stiles and the stepping stones. I started with Karen and Nick at 8:15, a little apprehensive as I knew I wasn’t really in a fit state to run 62 miles after a four-month layoff. My legs were slow to get moving, but that was fair enough I suppose.
The first loop heads west into the Lakes, over to Mosedale past the bothy and then up Branstree and Selside Pike, down into Swindale and back to Shap. It was a great run out, not too wet underfoot considering this was Mosedale. Proper mountain scenery, but nothing too rough. I was starting to tire on my way back into Shap though. My legs just weren’t fit enough. The second loop heads north, across farmland and along streams, very different countryside, which is the great thing about this event – three very different runs in one. By halfway my stomach was rebelling, I was feeling sick all the time, being sick sometimes, and for the last four hours as I shambled back to Shap I could eat nothing and drink nothing. I spent an hour feeling wretched in the Memorial Hall, retching from time to time, and being comforted when necessary by Gaynor, RO of the Grand Tour of Skiddaw, who was there with her dog. So I never saw the third ring east into the limestone clints. I set off home with my tail between my legs just after Kevin returned triumphantly home after finishing, pausing briefly in the car park to retch once more. Oh well, at least I got some miles done.
Many thanks to Tony and his team for organising such a great event: I hope they manage to find a way to continue putting it on in 2015 and beyond.
Next race the Vegan Welsh 3000s!