Matty had been looking forward to this race for a while, mostly as it was giving him the opportunity to attack Scafell from a new direction. He’d already competed here 6 times before, but always from Angle Tarn/Esk Hause/Broad Stand. So this time a change of approach and a play along the Corridor Route was on offer.
As mentioned in my Pre Race blog (here), I felt my training had gone well, and it had. However, the week before the race was a fairly stressful time, with my wife Mel being admitted to hospital a couple of times. I was therefore a bit mentally drained by the time Saturday came round and was about to travel up to Kirkby Stephen. What a drive it was!
Race day arrived, with cloudy skies and a chilly start. A cup of tea, coffee and a bowl of porridge with Neil Weightman (whose house I stayed at), then a nice drive into Keswick. We parked up and then discovered that the pay-and-display only took coins. I had a note. Cue panicked downloading of app, I payed, then jogged to registration, then fast-walked/jogged to the start line, where I caught up with Graham Kitchin on the way.
A quick catch up with Tony Holland (of www.ultra-runner.com) and Charlie Sharpe, then a quick jostle for position on the start line. I felt fit, but a little mentally drained and unsure whether my head would last the distance, but I looked forward to the race regardless.
A count down, then race time. Ricky Lightfoot shot off into the distance and I slowly moved my way through the pack (I started too far back.again.), until there was just Ricky and a little bit of fresh air between him and me. I had a chasing pack of a few people right on my heels, but no one made any serious moves. I continued to hold my pace (all be it on the uncomfortable side of steady), but remained in 2nd position until the first climb of the race – which went up Castle Crag.
Quite a few people closed up on me and Shaun Livesey caught me up. I had a brief chat with him and then he dropped off on the downhill (I do like a good downhill). After some flattish running, we enjoyed a nice steep descent down into Seatoller. A quick check behind, told me that Shaun was nowhere to be seen. Some good info gained there.and a change of game plan. Going for position, not time.
I maintained my steady pace to CP1, at Seathwaite. I remembered the last time I had been here, was for the (in)famous Borrowdale OMM of 2008, where it was around waist deep here! I then continued onwards, to the start of the REAL climb. Just after a right turn at Stockley Bridge (in the direction of Styhead Tarn), Shaun caught and passed me, ascending strongly. I maintained my effort/pace and reached the dib-point in 1:32, to Shaun’s 1:31 (Ricky passed through in 1:19!). A quick direction check, then up the corridor route.
I soon realised that when I’d studied the map, and watched the video of the mountain section, it had looked flatter. I decided to maintain my effort, but Shaun increased his lead and the next group of runners were about 5/6 minutes behind. After a slight bit of confusion around Lingmell Coll (Thick clag and wrong path), Ross Bibby and Scott Harrison caught me on the last drag to the dib-point, on the top of Scafell.
This was the bit I was looking forward to, the technical, slippy section across Broad Stand and down to Esk Hause. Within short order, I was clear of Ross and Scott, trotting happily down the mountain-side. I dibbed in and checked around and as there was no one in view, I enjoyed the rest of the descent. In fact I enjoyed it so much, I lost focus and ended up taking a tumble, hurting my right hip and elbow – which then leaked claret. With my focus regained off I went again, back to the Styhead Tarn dib-point, and I spotted Shaun not that far away – Bonus – the game plan had started to pay off.
However, I was careful not to get too get excited, carried on and passed a bloke who looked extremely familiar (Jayson Cavill I think..) who told me that I looked far more comfortable than the bloke ahead, which was another boost. So with this on mind, I kept on going! After another few minutes, I was on his shoulder, then past and then off.
After a quick top up at the checkpoint (with my TORQ Energy), I was off again, but after another navigational mini-disaster, Shaun got ahead a little. Thankfully I saw I was catching him and we still had another 16/17km to go, so I was not too bothered. However, after a quick check back, I spotted another bloke and thought to myself – Hmm – a minute or so back and this could be a problem.
Shaun stopped off to refill his water bottle, so it was back to me in 2nd. I maintained my pace to the start of the climb up to Watendlath Tarn, with Shaun not too far behind. This time however, Shaun did not gain on me on the climb and so I did not feel I needed to ruin myself on the descent off Scafell, which I believe payed dividends later on. i had a lovely descent to the tarn itself, then a good technical run down Watendlath Beck to the next Dib-Point. I then started to feel a little off and a little achey, so at the CP, I grabbed a handful of my favourite salted snacks, then ran on. shortly afterwards, I Felt amazing – like I had gained a new lease of life. Sodium definitely makes for a happy brain..! With no one in sight (Shaun was 3 minutes back by now), I decided to keep it steady.
After a nightmare road descent (through Ashness Wood to Ashness Bridge), I then hit the nicest bit of trail ever, which ran under Falcon Crag, Walla Crag and into Great Wood. I then enjoyed A couple of flat kilometers back and to the Finish. All done, all finished.
As I had worked really hard over the last few kilometers, I managed to hang on to 2nd place in a time of 4:40, with Shaun Livesey in 3rd, at 4:44:01. My last few kilometers of extra effort also thankfully held off a late charge from Ross Bibby, who finished in 4th, in a time of 4:44:29. Ricky Lightfoot won in 3:40 – Yeah by an hour! He took most of the time out of me on the ascents – which are still my areas of weakness.
I was really happy with my run, although it wasn’t particularly fast, it went well enough tactically, to allow me to have a relatively easy and stress free run, especially over the second half.
Thanks to TORQ for the nutrition, Camelbak for the awesome Podium drinks bottle, and Altura for clothing.
Possibly back next year for a crack at a decent time – brilliant race and loved it.
Photos can be found here courtesy of Steve Wilson www.granddayoutphotography.co.uk.
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