24th September The Sca Fell Pike Race

It had taken me 3 years to get back to having a go at the Sca Fell Pike race. Encouraged by my friend Bill Williamsons invite to join him in having a few beers and camping after the race. To do one of the best fell races and to catch up with a friend was too good an opportunity to miss.

So on Saturday at 1 pm I found myself lined up with about 70 others ready to race up to the highest point in England and back. Bill and I mused over why this race is nowhere near as popular as the Ben and Snowdon race. They attract 500 (limited) and 350 runners respectively every year. My thought on it was that it is a very awkward place to reach; it takes me an hour longer than most other places in the lake district to drive to. This means most people have to make a long journey to it. The other problem, or benefit depending on your view, is that there is no village or town nearby, Wasdale only has a campsite and a pub. I think this adds to the atmosphere of the race but it does not lend itself to a large field of runners. Soon enough we were off racing through the bottom fields to start the climb up Lingmel. The lower section of Lingmel is initially climbed before traversing across Lingmel col and then up the top section of Sca Fell pike.

I set off quite strong and was soon over the style part way up then I slowed as I hit the steep rocky section, in order to get my breathing back under control. I could still see the leader about 50 meters ahead of the field, I was about 100 meters behind the leader. Over the brow and onto the flatter section, I was now glad to be running but not long after starting running I was faced with a dilemma. Just as we entered into the mist half the field infront of me (about 20 runners) went straight on and half went right. I decided to follow right, thinking at the time it didn’t feel correct, and wrong it proved to be. The ground I had left was firm and nice to run on, the ground I was now on was uneven with tussocks. It was hard graft. After about 400 meters of this I was gassed and when we finally joined the proper path again I felt like giving up. I felt like I had made a serious error.

I joined the path just behind Bill and he told me I had only lost 50 meters. I decided that wasn’t too bad and carried on. But my race head was now gone. I was more just keeping a steady pace going, not really racing. I followed Bill to the summit and then down to the bottom of the slippery rocks. When we hit Lingmel col I decided to race to the bottom and picked up a few places. But my heart wasn’t in it. I could have overtook a runner right near the finish, but just couldn’t be bothered with the extra effort knowing I had stuffed up so badly.

Although the course was slightly shorter than 2008, my finishing time was of 1 hour 12 was still fairly good, and my position of 20th was the same with a similar sized field. So not a bad run, but if it wasn’t for the silly error it could have been much better.

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