|Early Morning Pick Up.|
As such, we weren't entirely sure quite what the running order would be, as it happened, even until we got there.
|The team takes shape|
Time ticked down.
10mins, 5mins, 3min... as the teams were being called to the
|Tim and John Arrive!|
Tim, Mark, John and I stood around with a cup of coffee, watching the leg 1 runners hoof it off into the distance, with Phil and Jamie somewhere around mid-pack. We then went off to get changed, as John enjoyed himself trying to work out just how to put his bike back together.
Soon enough (too soon, in fact, but nevermind the details), Al was back, and the 4 of us, with John gamely trying to keep up on a bike, headed up to Kirkstone pass, ready for the change over from leg 2-3.
We figured it would take about 45 mins for leg 1, and maybe 1:30 or so for leg 2, all things being well.
|Phil and Jamie, heading off on Leg 1|
We were one of the first cars up at the pass, which wasn't a bad thing, getting a parking space being a bit of a priority. It was flipping cold up there, and the mist was down. Same as a year ago - there really wasn't a whole lot to see around the place, though occasionally the veil of fog lifted slightly, and we were given a glimpse of Red Screes.
Soon enough the car park began to fill up with runners and supporters. Big Jackets on, and we wandered around re-acquainting ourselves with the fellrunning fraternity. Unsurprisingly, Borrowdale stormed into view first, Morgan Donnelly and partner being a couple of minutes ahead of the next pair - Calder Valley, who in turn were followed by Dark Peak.
|The view at Kirkstone, taken when the cloud had lifted...|
No need to worry, we weren't expecting Andy and Caity til a fair while longer.
We stood in the wind, and looked expectantly up to the hillside. Team after team streamed in. Pretty quickly, Pennine had come and gone. More and more teams came and went. Andy and Caity must have got lost. Hopefully they got lost, as that would mean neither of them is injured...
Pennine Womens team came through.
|Pennine Ladies, handing over|
The marshals were beginning to debate when to have the mass start, as there were now only 8 teams of 70 left on the hill.... We knew it was coming, but it was forestalled as a couple of teams were seen through the mist, making their way down toward the road. Andy and Caity! Yes!
As they came in, decrying their navigational skills and a twisted ankle, Tim C and Al shot off up Red Screes and we all bundled into the car for a welcome bit of warmth.
|Andy O and Caity come storming in|
I drove down to Sykeside, where Mark and I ostensibly began warming up - firstly by actually warming up with the heater in the car, and then with a bit of a run about. Not expecting Al and Tim to arrive any time soon, we killed time, chatting with some Pennine runners, and I ran up to the look out point to see what I could see. The Dark Peak Ladies had gone off a good few minutes before, along with a few other teams, but Pennine Ladies were still hanging around.
|Catching up with fellrunning buddies|
Al. And Tim.
Crikey. They'd picked up 22 places in the leg.
|My view, shortly before realising that Al and Tim were right behind me.|
Ignoring people in front of you taking one line and doing your own thing is quite difficult when the clag is coming down. Mark was a few steps behind me, and I struck off up the path. If we can take these hard, we can take back a decent few places up here.
No-one else around.
Keep it up, legs pumping, arms working hard, Mark having trouble behind me - which I'm happy about. I was thinking it'd be me fighting to keep up with him. (the hill reps must be working).
We popped out out over onto the top of the rise, with the rest of the hill to the top of Hart Crag in front of us, but, most importantly, with the Dark Peak Ladies and 3-4 other teams still somewhere off to our right, in the valley coming up to our level. Excellent, time to bust on up to the top. Keeping on keeping on.
I led on up through the mist to the top, dibbing in at the summit, as another team appeared out of the mist from a completely different direction. Wierd.
Thanking the marshals, and running on fairly tractionless rocks, off into the mist we went. I was fairly confident of the route, and just blasted away, knowing that on a good day, Mark would trounce me completely, on an off day, he'd only just be behind me. Through the mist, on and upward to Fairfield, past Daz's memorial plaque, and memories of 2 years ago, and then a storming descent through the scree to St.Sunday Crag.
Across St Sunday, we very nearly took a very very bad line, which I again remember reccying a couple of years ago and thinking - no. Never do this route. Luckily, we just stopped leaping down an inviting looking gully, and carried on along the right path.
Off the craggy bit, and down some fantastic grassy lines that I was just making up as I went along, and then the climb to the top. It went on for quite a while, and with no-one to chase up the hill, it was a real drag, but at no point did we stop running. There were a pair who appeared behind us, and were following our every move. I had my suspicions that they would shadow us all the way and then try to out sprint us at the end.
Nothing really to do but go. Over the top, dib, and down the rocky path, making up lines around footpaths, staying on the grass as much as possible. We flew down the hill as hard as we dared on slippy stones and bog, aquaplaning through puddles, and if anyone ever tells you that their Inov8s are the grippiest shoes in the world and grip to ANYTHING, well quite frankly, they aren't running hard enough.
Final dibber before the horrible stone step descent to the show ground, and we were finally overtaken by the lurkers behind us. Mark was running hard with loud footsteps as we charged down the road, but they were just too far ahead of us for a sprint finish to change the outcome. Shame, but there you go. 1:19:38 - 3 mins faster than last year. Excellent, and we picked up a further 5 places beyond Al and Tim's effort.
We ended up 35th overall, and in the end, barely 2 mins behind the Pennine V40 team. Not too bad a come back from quite a navigational amusement on Leg 2. Good day out on the hills, and with some great lessons learnt.
Well done to the team, Phil, Jamie, Caity, Andy O, Tim C, Al, Mark O, and of course, the irrepressible John H for his support throughout the day.
Apologies for the lack of photos during our leg, I was a bit busy trying to put one foot in front of the other as fast as possible... and finally, a link to the results for the day.