Pennine 39 – Leaderboard and writeup

The leaderboards have now been updated for the Pennine 39. Nick has provided his photos taken during the race

Karen’s writeup is below.


One of my favourite weekends in the year. Our plans didn’t quite work out- van issues still so I was on my own. By 8.10am I was collecting boxes of mint cake from Romneys and by 9.10am doing the same with Mountain Fuel from Rupert in Keswick. Jobs completed I drove to Ullswater and was on the water with SUP inflated by 10.30. The early bird and all that.

It didn’t seem windy at the Patterdale end and I pottered up to the southern end of the lake in search of lunch. My early start causing me to forget to make sandwiches. With an egg barm in my belly and a sandwich in my dry bag I set off for more exploring.By the time I was opposite Glen Coyne it was windy and from there to Howtown the headwind just got stronger.

I stopped for my lunch feeling sure the return trip would have the benefit of a tail wind. It did for a couple of km and then a headwind again! Not fair. I finished off with a refreshing swim in a very warm lake and drove to Alston.

It wasn’t long before the flags and banners were up outside and boards and spot prizes were up inside. Joe had kindly found me a bunk space so all was looking good. I registered and then wandered up into the village with Nick.

Sadly the chippy had shut down and two pubs were no longer doing food. I should have then just gone to the Spar and cooked back at the hostel but joined by Francis we ended up in another pub with beer and food. Back at the hostel it was filling up and I spent the evening chatting before heading up to a very hot top bunk. I didn’t sleep very well and an alarm had been set for 6am. Oh well, I was awake anyway.

Feet taped, breakfast eaten and toilet stops done I wandered down to the Spar ready for the coach. Kat and I caught up on news from each other and admired the scenery from our front seat view. Lots of curlew and grouse chicks. At Bowlees after quick toilet breaks we headed down to the fragile bridge and the river. Despite the dry spell the waterfalls were still impressive. I was feeling tired- not a great way to start a race but knew that Kat or Claire or both would easily beat me and so I might as well just enjoy the journey. The start was predictably low key… are you ready? OK off you go.

I let others power off ahead and was soon 6th F. Early days and I was not going to start chasing at this stage. I chatted with Tony H and then Jonathan. My caution paid off and before many km I was back in 3rdF. My watch had done strange things at the start but now seemed to be working fine. I didn’t need it for nav anyway having done the route several times before. It was warm and very humid although not as brightly sunny as last weekend. The nice grassy paths and track gave way to the jumble of rocks under Falcon Clints and I slowed down not wanting to take a tumble here. At least the rocks were dry this year. I thought I was struggling and running badly but others were too and before long I had dropped Tony and Ashok.

Climbing the rocks up past Cauldron Snout to the first CP I passed the first of the walkers/slow runners from the early bus. I wasn’t in need of anything yet so grabbed some peanuts and pushed on with Jonathon for company.Passing Birkdale Farm (the highest permanently inhabited one in England) we left the big track and turned onto grass to descend to Maize Beck bridge. We had now passed most people from the early start and could see High Cup Nick ahead. Jonathan had not seen it before and was suitably impressed.

We ran together to Dufton and the CP in the village hall. I stopped long enough to refill both soft flasks and to grab slices of orange and melon. I left alone and headed up the Pennine Way eating by bag of crisps. I could see a couple of other runners further up and then a faster runner appeared from behind me- he had been up the Pennine Journey in error. I used these to help pull me up Knock. I had the poles out by now and it did help me keep a good rhythm. Knock is an unkind hill with a false top but at least there was breeze up here. The bogs were totally dried out and the flag stone path led us quickly to the extra water stop on the tiny aerials road. Somewhere here I got my mojo back in full and started running. I left Jonathon so he missed my fall. Luckily I was on the baked earth and grass path next to the flag stones and so there was no blood just shock and bruising. I pressed on over Great Dun Fell, Little Dun and on to Cross Fell.

I didn’t linger at the trig point and was soon on the trod cutting the corner to Gregs Hut. Louise was sitting by the pipe from the spring and her usual smiley self. I was now in race mode and ran almost all of the horrid yellow brick road. It has settled out a bit but still seems to stretch on and on into the distance. I made sure I was eating and drinking having learned my lesson last weekend.

The drop into Garrigill was speedy and I remembered to turn towards the village Hall for this years CP. Neil was sat outside so I shouted my number and turned around.  Under 4 miles to go now. It was interesting using my garmin and seeing it count down the km left and also see it updating my ETA. I used this to motivate me and it was rewarding seeing my time get closer to 7hrs. Then suddenly my watch did strange things and started to add km? I ignored it and ran as much as I could. The many stiles slowed me up a bit but mostly it is pleasant grassy running and I managed to avoid meeting PW walkers at bottlenecks. I pushed hard and was determined to get under 7hrs 10 and even under 7hrs 5 if I could. Yes- 7.04, not my fastest but not the worst either. Rory stormed round in 5hrs 40, ten minutes ahead of Phil, despite having been ill for weeks and Kat took first F in 6.42 ahead of Claire in 6.58

Once stopped it was multiple cups of tea, several bowls of soup and bread and more. I chatted to friends and had laughs with Phil and Claire. I went for a shower and felt more human- my legs and feet felt surprisingly OK given the race but it was good to slump in one of the soft sofas for a while.

Then we started on the beer- Senior Moment and Fell Runner blonde. Sandra arrived and was making our evening meal and we sat chatting over good food and slowly refuelling.

By 10.30 I was done and wandered up to bed. Another hot night on the top bunk. I took down the flags amid swarms of midges and then headed back indoors. Breakfast in the morning was a relaxed drawn out affair before I drove home. A good weekend away.