The Old Counties Tops race with Bill : 20th May

35 miles
10,200 feet

It rained hard just as we registered. This was a bad omen for the race. But I was optimistic that this years race would be less wet and cold than last years. How misplaced was my optimism? Massively.

A few showers weren't a problem as we started on the "warm up" over and through Grassmere. As usual at this point Bill and I were moving smoothly and swiftly. As we approached the tough climb up the side of Dollywagon I felt that we were maybe a little too swift. Running all the way up to the steep climb. I checked that Bill was ok and not pushing it, he affirmed all was good. Helvellyn was ticked off in about our normal time, and the weather was cool but ok.

Wythburn was even feeling a bit warm. So I took my Gillet off. By the top of Green up edge it almost felt like a replay of last year. The clouds amassed it started raining and the wind picked up. However this time it was cold rain with some sleet and hail in it. By the time we closed in on Angle Tarn, the now incessant rain, was getting to me. I felt very cold and thoughts of quitting crept in. I comforted myself in that, as we climbed to Esk Hause the wind would be at our backs.

Somehow we struggled to the Scafell Pike summit, and decided on the quick route down. Unfortunately Bill started with cramp whilst still high up, and in the cold wind and rain. My hands now painfully numb and almost useless, I said to Bill that unless things improve in the valley i'll have to quit. He sort of agreed as he too was cold.

After struggling up the steep slopes of Sca Fell Pike we dropped out of the cloud, and gradually the valley lit up with sun shine. Like a lizard warming in the sun, I could feel energy and enthusaiasm gradually return along with the use of my hands. We both decided to go for the finishers T-shirt.

Although the out and back to the Old Man of Coniston was cool with a fresh wind, it still felt quite mild by comparison to the earlier mailstrom. We made good time over the last section and finished in our slowest time of 10 hours 13 mins. But finishing was the main thing. I really enjoyed the race, maybe even more for the on the edge feel of it.
After warming up and drying out, on the ascent to the Old Man.

Closing in on the Old Man

Very happy to finish.

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