I had been thinking about this race for months. Last year I ran it for the first time but had no idea what the route was and I knew I could go faster. Route knowlege is a huge thing in Lake District fell races. It takes years to build up a picture in your mind of each route. This year this one was a Championship race so all the top runners would be there. Navigation wouldnt be much of an issue either as it was baking hot and clear.
The problem with the Duddon is the lack of water on the route. Certainly on the way back there is nothing at all. I had decided to stash two bottles behind a rock just above the Three Shire Stone on the Wrynose Pass which turned out to be a very good idea.
We set off at a frantic pace, why I dont know as 18miles and 6000ft does not need a rapid start. Anyway as we climbed towards Harter Fell I fell over and straight away could feel my quad muscle in my right leg was agony. By the time I dibbed I could barely run. The plunge down wasn't pleasant and I had to pull up and watch the race leaders pull away. I thought there and then I would be walking to the road at Hardknott. More and more runners passed me and my teammate Dan came by and asked if I was okay. After a few more seconds I decided to hobble on. I reached the flatter section which starts the climb to the road and my leg seemed a little better. By the time I got to the road I could jog a bit faster and just thought carry on and see how it goes. The climb up to Hardknott and then the drop down towards Mosedale Beck was one of he hardest times that I have had on a fell race. The climb up Little Stand was actually easier as my leg seemed to go better on the ups. I topped out Little Stand with a runner from Borrowdale who got us a nice line off the top which actually turned out to e the same one I had taken the previous year which at the time I thought was rubbish.
Flying down to Wrynose and the leg had definatley started to get a bit better. I opened two gels knowing the bottles were only a few moments away and finished them as I got to the checkpoint at the road.
A quick search under my water rock produced two iced cold drinks which were the most welcome sight I had seen on a fell race for a long time. I now knew I would be okay. I downed one bottle and stuffed it in my bumbag and just kept sipping the other one as I ran. A nice little line under Carrs Crags courtsey of the lad from Borrowdale and then just up and over to checkpoint 5 which is Swirl How.
Dow Crag and White Pike came and went but I then made a slight navigational error on the last part of the route before Caw. I had gone into the crags and had to do a spot of scrambling which cost me 3/4 minutes before then climbing up to the final summit checkpoit of Caw. I dibbed in and then flew down towards the finish field in a tad over 3 hrs 11mins and 27th place which in a championship race left me very happy.
If it wasnt for losing time with my leg and a few minutes through route choice errors I would have been well under 3 hrs 10mins.
Ah well maybe next year.
A fantastic race, very hot weather, cracking routebut really needs recceing.
Three Shires stone and Swirl How summit