It's the height of British summer time, so the weekend weather of constant rain, blustery winds and grim grey weather was of no surprise. I'd entered the Scarfell Pike Trail Marathon ad hoc and consequently had no expectations. Over the previous couple of weeks, I was still feeling Zugspitz in my legs and so treating the Trail Marathon as a training run seem pretty sensible.
It's a 27 mile race with approximately 1700m of ascent in the Lake District. In fact, Scafell Pike is England's highest mountain and I was excited to be racing to the summit and back down.
There was plenty of chance to warm up as the first few miles are flat following the trails along Derwent water and a chance to find and settle into you pace, just before a change in tempo as the climbing starts through Borrowdale. A short taster to get the calves working and ready for Scafell. The weather proved testing, causing the rocks to be greasy and every opportunity to slip and slide your way to the summit. Anyone who is familiar with Scarfell Pike, will know of the corridor route with the boulders and the technical terrain nearer the top which is pretty incessant. I took a total of four falls during the course of the race, the most epic being on the drop off the summit in the boulder field. It shook my confidence on the rock and in the shoes that I was wearing, so I gingerly limped my way off the mountain for 15 mins before the pain and fear subsided. I managed, eventually, to get into my groove again, yet I had lost a lot of time. It is a difficult descent passing broad crag and heading for Esk Hause and Sty head. The difficulty is with the changing terrain and simply not being able to get complacent or take your eye off the ground. It's the English mountains at their best, there is nothing manicured about the tracks and limited obvious path at times. The race requires some navigation on the way up, over and off the summit, however the marshals had helpfully put a few flags en route as the clag was down which meant some of the mental work alleviated and folk could concentrate on staying upright in the wind, up on feet on the boulders and move quick enough so as not to develop hypothermia. Ok Ok, I may be being dramatic here!
I believed I'd lost so much time that I was soon to be caught by the ladies behind, so I resigned myself to my fate and was happy to have not sustained any serious injuries, reminded myself it was a training run and enjoyed the rest of my time on the course. Beautiful forest, running alongside waters edges, paths, roads, tracks and grateful that I was feeling fresh enough to keep plodding on wards.
There is a sting in the tail in this race up to Watendlath so if you've left it all on Scafell then you'll struggle over the last hour or so on the approach to the finish. I think my time lost earlier through superficial injuries had in fact, ensured that I didn't push it too hard too early and found that I had plenty left to push on over the latter stages.
I was shocked to have finished first lady given my attitude to it being a training race and certainly had not expected to win. I'm not going to complain, the trophy is amazing, it's a firm reminder of the rocks that I had been breaking my neck on all day long.
Super race High Terrain events
Thanks Raidlight UK for supplying my trusty kit
And a special thanks to My coach Martin for your wise and trusted knowledge