Buttermere trail race

Sun 29th March

10 miles
1,048 feet

This year I decided to enter more trail races. By racing at Ennerdale the last two years I have discovered  that I enjoy them. I think because a lot of my training is on the roads and flatfish terrain they suit me better then fell races. So after a long a recce a month earlier (from Stair in Newlands valley over Robinson and back over Robinson and Hindscarth)  I discovered that this route is very tricky underfoot for the first 5 miles and the final 5 miles are slightly more undulating but easier underfoot.

Race day was wet and cold, so the first 5 miles would be even trickier on wet slippy rocks. After getting cold at the briefing we were off on a relentlessly fast pace. I hoped to keep the lead guys in sight for a while but on the easier underfoot initial section they disappeared around the slight bends and rises. I found myself in a pack of about 5 runners with the lead 8 or so strung out. I settled into as harder pace as I dare and just kept pushing on the increasingly awkward section along the west shore of crumock water. It certainly felt a whole lot warmer with the fast pace and clearing rain.

I was unwittingly about to become involved in the fight between Lizzie Adams and Heidi Davies for the win. 2 miles in I overtook Lizzie. 4 miles in Heidi overtook me. Then Lizzie overtook us both another mile later. Then Heidi overtook me. At mile 6 I just tried to hang onto them. No one else was around at this point. This was my race. At mile 8 the route goes up into the valley and back here I mangled to see what I now know was the  third and fourth places guys running back down. At the bridge where you turn to go back down Heidi slipped, I asked her if she was ok, she said she was. So I continued. She was ok as after a short descent then road section she caught and passed me and closed in on Lizzie on a short sharp climb. I now had a front row seat for the battle for 1st lady. As I wasn't quick enough to battle for the men's win, I suppose it was second best. At the top of the climb Lizzie pulled out a lead and extended it down to a road crossing. I overtook Heidi and we all legged it for the last 1 mile to finish in that order. Lizzie 1st lady 5th overall, me 6th in 1h:12:13 1st V40, Heidi 2nd lady 7th overall. Paul Wathan won in 1h:07:48 a total of 191 finished.

Middle fell race

Sat 21st March

6.5 miles
1,740 feet

A beautiful day for a simple out and back race. It goes from the screes pub in nether was dale on slightly undulating trails for 1.8 miles. Here you reach the foot of Middle fell at Greendale bridge. Then it's an up and down to the summit of Middle Fell and back the same way.

I felt like I had a good start on the trails but as soon as we hit the slopes of Middle fell I had to walk all the runners around me seamed to ascend and descend faster. I ran as much of the flatter upper sections as I could before a tired descent. I then pushed on to finish reasonably strong in a time of 60.29 good enough for 15 th place out of 78. Tom Addison headed a quality field to finish in 49.22.

Black Combe Fell race

Saturday 14th March

8.2 miles
3,300 feet

I had my eye on doing this race for a few years, but either the weather was bad or I didn't feel fit enough. I didn't know the weather was going to be perfect, but I felt reasonably fit. So I made the trip around the coast to Silecroft to give it a go.

Off we went through a few gradually sloped fields then up a steep climb, I felt like I had almost come to a halt as I battled the slope and the crowds around me. I struggled up onto the flatter plateau then never really felt comfortable all the way to the summit. It was all very runnable but I felt like I was pushing hard to maintain any sort of pace.

After the summit it's a very runnable descent down and around to White Combe. I had followed fellow Bowland runner Chris Reade all the way to here. By the end of the descent off White Combe I was right on his heals. On the disarmingly tough climb back up onto Black Combe Chris pulled out about a 200 meter gap. I felt like I was trudging this climb, no running at all even though the gradient should allow for it, at least on some occasions. Maybe my fitness still wasn't quite there.

I struggled to the summit then ran well down this very nice descent. I closed in a bit on Chris but he still finished a good 100 meters ahead. Still I was reasonably pleased to finish 50th /213 in 1h 27.22. Rob Jebb won his first race as a V40 in 1h 09.14.