Pennine 39 – Write ups

We had a warm day for the Pennine 39 with excellent visibility. Nick’s photos are here Pennine 39. 16/07/2022. | Flickr, I’ve blogged it here, and Karen’s blog post is reproduced below.

I love this event and have done it 5 times before. For me it is a whole weekend of chilling with friends but with a race in the middle too. As usual we arrived on Friday afternoon but this time direct from 5 hours on Kendal climbing wall – not ideal race prep but great fun. The flags and banners were soon up and prizes handed over. Joe was busy with shuttle runs to the railway stations but I caught up with him eventually. After food in the van I walked back up to the YHA to catch up with yet more friends.

My race prep had been a bit daft with a family wedding but also loads of activity- just not much running. Mon was a 4 hour climbing session, Tues a 130km bike ride, Wednesday SUP on a local river estuary, Thursday a walk on Pendle and then on Friday more climbing. I would have to wing it and I knew that I could be in trouble. This was not arrogance; more that I had been having fun doing other stuff. It was too late to worry now so I went to bed with “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” ringing in my head. Despite this I slept well and opted to enjoy the superb scenery and make the most of the warm weather.


I caught up with Steve Jones and his plans for more bonkers adventures as the coach took us to Bowlees. Then chatting to Siobhan and Joe before a very very low key start I was actually in the lead for a few minutes.

Rory soon came past as did Phil and also Despina and then Claire.  I refused to chase and risk blowing up. I settled into what I hoped was a reasonable pace for me and ran much of the next chunk along the Pennine Way and up past Cauldron Snout with Gary.

Approaching High Cup Nick is always special and today was not exception. What a view. Charles had caught me and passed me, along with Peter. They took photos but still steamed off ahead of me looking strong on the initial gnarly descent.

By the Dufton CP I had closed the gap a little but Charles shot off fast and powered ahead up Knock. I refilled water, ate melon and took goodies from my drop bag. I hoped to reel Charles in on the climb- but not today. On the plus side I pretty much kept Peter in my sights and got further and further ahead of Gary. The marshall on Knock was cold but after our efforts we were steaming in just shorts and T shirts. Luckily there was water in the streams and water at his car. This and the breeze along the 3 tops kept us cool. There was more surface water than I expected on this section with several flag stones submerged so we had cool feet too. A cheery ‘Hello’ to the photographer by the radar station and I was chasing Peter. My tiny trod to Greg’s Hut did the trick even though I stopped to fill my bottle again at the pipe.

The track from Greg’s Hut to Garigill has broken many runners, especially those who dare to believe that it is now all down-hill. It isn’t! Instead you face a roller-coaster of stony track that seems to go on forever. I caught Peter and chatting helped take my mind off the pain. We discovered we had a mutual friend and he quizzed me about hilly northern ultras (he’s from Essex). I would hardly say dumping rough aggregate is track improvement but it did mean the grassy verge had been widened and flattened making it more runnable. I raced down and to my amazement caught Charles before the village. On the downside a glance at my watch showed I was going to be 20-30 minutes slower than last year. After a PW at Lakeland 5 Passes I now believed I was rubbish, a fraud and had been stupidly lazy in my training. Bob had planned his bike ride to intercept me in the village but I was feeling a bit negative despite the melon.

Our threesome set off together and after a short silly error when I led them down the wrong footpath all was well along the riverside path and meadows. Knowing the route helped me to judge what was left and to shout peter back at one junction. It also allowed me to time my final effort to perfection and so to finish a minute ahead of Charles.

Rory had won again and although about 15 mins slower we were all awed by his time of 5hrs49. Phil was not far behind. Despina was 1stF in 6.44 and it was good to chat to her after the race. Claire beat me easily this year in 6.55 and I was 3rdF in 7.21 which was 26 mins down on last year.  I drank so much water that the marshall brought me out my own jug. Gradually I felt more normal as I cooled down and cheered in other runners. A shower and then Nav4 soup, bread and cake completed the job.

The event was far from over though and we sat eating and cheering runners in for ages. A large group of us had booked in for the Saturday night meal which was superb. The wine and beer flowed and we sung Happy Birthday to Joe. Retiring to the lounge for more beer I set about persuading Joe that this should not be the last Pennine 39 before staggering back to the van at gone midnight. We were off to Ullswater for more paddle-boarding in the morning and so left Nick to deal with all the flags etc. Thanks.

All photos- credit Nick Ham