22nd Sept 2007
9.5 miles 5,500 ft
The Joss Naylor Challenge is an age based long distance Fell challenge. The age category for Leigh 50-60, meant he had 12 hours to complete the run. It is a linear route going roughly from the North East lakes, starting at Pooley Bridge, to the South East Lakes finishing in Wasdale at Greendale Bridge. The route traverses all the significant mountain tops on this line giving statistics of 32 miles and 14,000 ft. I had some time earlier agreed to assist Leigh on his atempt and agreed to meet him on his final leg, starting at Sty Head.
I parked in Wasdale and walked up to Sty Head. It is a walk of about an hour. On the way up I felt ill and had to take an impromptu toilet break on the side of Great Gable. This is something I always try and avoid but the desperate need to go was overwhelming and would be a pre-cursor to how I would feel later on in the day. I arrived at Stye head after my "comfort break" to meet Richard Mellon, he was the other helper on this section. Then to my surprise Joss Naylor arrived, we exchanged a few brief words and he carefully made off for Esk Hause to finish his walk, and probably spot Leigh coming off Great End.
Before long Leigh arrived, I was expecting him to take a break, but he took 1 swig of water then carried on. So Richard and I bounded off and tried to catch him as he made a rapid ascent of Great Gable. On the way up he was talking about beating Nick Hewitt's record (a fellow Bowland runner). It looked like he had every chance. However Im glad he slowed down a touch by the top; a chance for me to get my breath back.
We traversed Kirk Fell, Pillar and Steeple at a good pace. But by the time we got to Haycock I was feeling it. I knew now that I may have trouble keeping up. I struggled to keep up, up Seatallan and descending to the col I was losing ground and feeling rough. They disappeared inexorably into the distance on the way up Middle Fell. I struggled up feeling that I was going backwards. I think I left all my energy at home, or on the side of Great Gable. Leigh had increased the pace but normally I would keep up. Even meeting Ian Roberts on the descent, and him relieving me of my rucksack didn't make a difference I still couldn't catch them. So unfortunately I could not witness Leigh breaking the record.
I struggled down and eventually reached the gathering crowd of support to congratulate Leigh on a fine effort. I also noted that for the second time of the day I was in the presence of a hero of mine. Iron Joss was their to congratulate Leigh on completing his round.
On the way home I felt rough and had to pull over in the car to make another "comfort break". This wasn't my day, I think I had a stomach bug which stripped me of my energy. Never mind it was good to help for at least part of the record anyway.