Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Hardest Race I've Ever Run

It truly was. In a different league to the Yorkshire Three Peaks race of a few weeks ago. I'm not sure my legs will ever work again...

I parked up overnight about 45 minutes from the race start. Up early, I completed the journey, registered and got my head down for an hour - heavenly slumber. Then with an hour to go I got myself, my kit and my final preparation done. Splits written on my race number I was good to go. Between the time I worked out my ascent-distance based splits and the morning of the race I had decided to ease things back to a 5 hour 30 schedule.

I set off towards the rear of the field and took it easy across the flat section before the largest climb of them all from zero to, well a long way up, to check point one, Great Bourne - nothing to do with Jason. I was a little quick hitting the summit 3 minutes 30 inside my target. To Red Pike (CP2) I picked up another four minutes. All very straight forward. From there things started to diversify as the runners ahead (and behind) all started to take differing routes. Without having reccied the route I just tried to follow someone who looked like they knew what they were doing.

Luckily I spotted a lady nip round the side of one of the smaller hills and I set off in hot pursuit. That was a great save and although I did faff a little a mile or two later I managed to get to Blackbeck Tarn (CP3) having only the lost just under three minutes from that split.

I gained those three minutes back on the climb to Green Gable (CP4) at which point, as a summary, I was just about eight minutes up on my 5:30 schedule and I felt pretty good. I was taking on plenty of water and gels and feeling confident.

Kirk Fell (CP5) was another poor one. Having decided to take the trod round Great Gable rather than speeding down and back up I lost three minutes. I felt it was a worth while sacrifice to try and save my legs - it didn't work as they were beginning to feel somewhat knackered anyway.

Pillar (CP6) was another bad one, losing almost four minutes. I was beginning to fade. Now just one minute inside my schedule it didn't look good. The rough ground was quite literally, grinding me down. My feet were beginning to boil and I could feel blisters on their way but I had picked me up some good company along the way to numb the pain.

Surprisingly I rallied on the section across to check point seven, Haycock - stop it - mainly on account that there was a good section of grassy running to be had. I picked up three minutes to bring things almost four minutes back inside the schedule. I was beginning to think I might actually get inside five and a half hours...

The run to Iron Crag (CP8) also went alright, gaining another minute and I still felt OK. That feeling didn't last long and it all started to go a bit wrong on the climb to the final check point, Crag Fell. Coming out of the woods I began to feel a bit dizzy and had to ease back. I could feel my heart pumping and I had a slight feeling of nausea. I needed to take my foot off the throttle in order to make it to the finish in one piece. I yielded two minutes to the schedule but I was still inside by three minutes. There was still a chance...

The final descent was steep and runnable but seemed to go on for ever - and in the wrong direction! It was a marked route that you had to follow and direct to the finish it was not. By the time I hit the bottom I was destroyed. I could barely run. As the clock ticked on my progress in the final mile was agonisingly slow. I could hardly run. Finally, after what seemed like a life time I dibbed - ooh matron - that one final time at the finish - and disastrously I was 45 seconds outside my target. NOOOOOOOO.

So having completed the 23 miles, 7,500 feet of ascent, endured the full force force of the sun and been eaten alive by midges I finished in a time of 5:30:45 in 59th place. I think I might sleep through tomorrow...

The Ennerdale Fell Race...