I had been so looking forward to this first recce run and it didn’t disappoint. Dave & I had a superb day out on the route. This year I felt I needed a new challenge after my struggles on the whw last year and on the evidence of this first recce run I’ve found a worthy challenge!
We left Paisley at 4pm on Saturday afternoon and had a very easy journey down to Keswick. Katrina listened to the podcast with Dave and Lee for the first part of the journey.
We arrived at Dave & Tracey’s Cottage just after 6.30pm. They had made a lovely Lasange for us and as we enjoyed it we chatted about our plans for the day ahead.
We were up at 6.30am and set off at 7.30am after some breakfast. Katrina came with us and the plan was for her to do a 12mile run around Buttermere and then drive back to Keswick. On the journey over the top we were all surprised to see that the snow had covered the tops.
Plus it was still snowing and the closer we got to Buttermere the thicker and heavier the snow was! We started running just after 8am. Katrina set off with a plan to run round Buttermere Lake twice. We had talked about her going round Crummock Water but she wasn’t confident she’d find the path.
Dave & I setting off in the snow
I had been sent a pair of Hoka Mafate Low to review for this blog and they arrived on Friday. I was unsure whether to wear them for this run. Every instinct said it’s really silly, even foolhardy, to try them out on a 32mile run over rough ground having never worn them before!
But I did have the option of changing shoes at Keswick after 8miles as we would run close to Dave’s house and Tracey kindly offered to meet us if I wanted to change. So in the end my desire to try them out won and it worked out well as I wore them for the whole day. More on them to come.
I was keen to make sure I concentrated on the route and I had my head cam to record all the major route choices so I can watch that in the months to come before the race. We ran with a printed map and also the route book that the race organisers provide for each runner.
Leg 5 Buttermere to Brathwaite (6.55miles)
We left checkpoint at Buttermere which is the church and immediately turned right into the trees alongside the Sail Beck. We ran nice and easy up through the trees making sure we kept to the higher paths, over the stile steps, turned right and along the fence.
I had a feeling that there wil be periods when, once you’ve found the right path, you will run on it for a good while before having to decide the next route choice and that’s the way it turned out.
I’ve known Dave for the past couple of years through our blogs but we’ve never ran together so it was great to spend some time chatting and enjoying the route together.
Our first major route choice was a mile or so up the track when we had to make sure we went left and higher. The route book was very clear as there was a sheep pen below to mark the point when we climbed further.
Even though we were in quite thick snow we could navigate our way quite easily. In the race we will be doing this section in the dark so it was important to try and make sure we are clear in our heads the key turns and route choices.
The path climbed higher and higher but unfortunately the cloud base was quite low so we didn’t see too much at all. We walked all the hills and ran where it levelled off. There are a few becks to cross. The biggest being Addecombe Beck.
After 3.48miles and 1hr 6mins we reached the top of the climb at Sail Pass. We went straight over and were rewarded with a whole new view looking down to Braithwaite. On this recce run we had decided to have 1-2 mini-checkpoints to help us on the race and this was our first. I wonder how long it will take me on the race day?
It was a lovely run down the path and the Hoka’s felt great on the downhill. Lots of support and cushioning. I could get used to these. Both of us had brought along our video camera’s so there’s lots of footage of each of us running! Dave has already put a taster together which I’m post at the end of this report (but you can’t skip the rest of the report to watch it!!).
Me with Braithwaite in the distance
As we decended we came out of the snow and on the grass. It was a weird feeling having only seen snow for the past 90mins or so. Dave described as switching from black & white TV to colour.
We had one or two decisions to make as we arrived into Braithwaite but nothing a skilled orienteerer and mountain marathon man like Dave couldn’t handle! We arrived at the checkpoint in 1hr 43mins.
We stopped for a few minutes to take off our jackets as it was quite warm in the valley. It was a pattern we repeated many times over the rest of the day. Jackets on when we were higher and off again when we decended.
Leg 6 Braithwaite to Blencartha (8.51miles)
The first mile or two of this section is along the road, then cycle track, which isn’t the most exciting bit but the rest of this leg soon made up for it as we climbed around Latrigg and up the valley.
One of the things I really enjoy about running with others is watching what they do in regard to kit and food. Dave is quite different to me in both. I’m happy to carry a camera and my head cam as well as ‘normal’ food etc.
Dave resents having to carry a single unnecessary gram! So all his kit is the lightest he can find. The only reason he started carrying a video camera is he found one that is tiny and hardly weighs anything.
While I was eating my peanut & jam sandwiches, mashed potato & cheese, fruit custard and milk shake Dave relied on perpeteum, iron bru and gels. When I brought out my tubbleware with my mashed potato I thought he was going to cry!! He was slighlty happier when I said I won’t carry it on the race!
We ran past Dave’s school where he pointed out the rugby pitch where he spends a lot of his day. The view is amazing with hills all round. Definitely worse places to work! We also met a few people who all knew him.
Our first mini-checkpoint was at a gate as we came off the road. Then the second was at the car park after climbing up and around Latrigg Woods where Dave does a lot of his training.
The route then joins the Cumbrie Way and basically goes out for a mile or so and then comes back on the other side. This is a bridleway and such cyclists are allowed to use this path. We saw a number of guys out on their mountain bikes.
A group of 3 went past us then a few moments later they stopped as one guy’s derailer had snapped off so I think he was going to have a long walk back.
Dave pointed out the correct route for the race as there is a path which turns early. It seems there has been some discussions on the race forum about that. We stopped at the stream to refill water bottles. In Dave’s case with more perpeteum.
I had drank less that a half of my 500ml bottle so realised I probably needed to drink a bit more. I was eating regularly and feeling good.
The path back to the checkpoint at Blencathra was mainly downhill so we had a good steady run and chat. You can see the path on the otherwise so I joked that Dave could wave at me as I’ll be behind him. But as it will in the dark we’ll have to use morse code.
We arrived at the checkpoint in 1hr 46mins for that section. We’d been running for 3hrs 35mins and covered 15.06miles. Jackets were off again and after a 3min 30sec stop we were off again.
Leg 7 Blencathra to Dockray (7.70miles)
The first 3-4 miles of this section is on path, then road then cycle track. One of things I really enjoyed about the whole section we ran was the variety. There is a bit of everyting and it makes the whole journey really interesting.
I can understand why friends like to run 24hr races round a 1k or 1.5mile loop but it’s not for me. I just love being out in the countryside and enjoying God’s creation. Every few miles there was a new view to experience.
We used the start of the climb as our mini split. This part of the route is shared by the Bob Graham Round that Dave has done so he was pointing out the way that route goes. He also warned me that the climb up to the old coach road woudl be very muddy.
Maybe it was the extra height the Hoka’s gave us but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. Once we hit the old coach road we had a good run for a few miles to the checkpoint at the end of the road at a car park.
We met another of Dave’s friends who was a 2.11 marathon runner in his hayday. Impressive friends!
We covered the 7.70miles in 1hr 39mins. We were going well but we also had lots of stops to check the route and video key junctions so that we can watch it later. I’m hoping that I won’t need to rely on maps and the road book too much as I’ll feel confident about the route.
Leg 8 Dockray to Dalemain (10.07miles)
The route takes you down the road to Dockray and then up into the trees around Gowbarrow Fell. This was by far Dave’s favourite bit. I know that because he kept telling me!! Again the road book was clear, keep taking the left forks.
One of the reasons that it was such a special section is that once you come round the corner you are quite high up and overlooking Ullswater. The views were amazing. It helped as well that the sun made it’s only appearance of the day!
Me with Ullswater behind
We were trying to work out when we would arrive here and think it may well be as the sun is rising so that would be a spectacular start to a new day.
We were both running well and enjoying the whole day. I was very pleased with how my legs felt and never once had to dig too deep. We took a mini split as we entered Swinburn’s Park. Again another lovely run through the trees.
Once we were round Priest’s Crag and over the road we had our one and only real dilemna of where to go. We were unsure how many stiles we’d been over and whether we were in the second or third field mentioned in the road book.
But again not too difficult and we soon realised we had one more stile to go over before heading across the middle of the field. Just at this point Tracey rang and said they were at Dalemain and that they’d just missed getting a drink at the cafe!
As we ran into Bennethead there was some washing on the line and Dave recognised his school games kit so the house must home one of his pupils.
Once through the villiage we had a few miles on the road heading towards Dalemain. With less than 20mins to go it started hailing! Sohaving started in the snow we were now finishing in the hail!
We had spent a lot of the day chatting about our plans for the race and I said to Dave that I’d love to arrive at Dalemain feeling about the same as I do now with plenty of running still in my legs. We’ll see whether I can in July.
The leg to Dalemain took us 2hrs 14mins. Overall the 32.83miles took us 7hrs 36mins 46secs which works out at an average of 13.55 per mile.
Katrina drove us back to Keswick where after a shower and a lovely cheese & ham toastie we headed home to Paisley.
Both Dave & I agreed it was a great day out and we can’t wait for part 2 in four weeks time. A big thank you to Dave & Tracey for their hospitality. As we left Tracey it was nice to meet someone as crazy as Dave. Not quite sure if that was a compliment or not!!
Here is a breakdown of our splits …
Both Dave & took a good amount of video. I’m going to put mine together, one for each leg. I’m hoping it will be helpful for me to remember the route.
Dave put a taster together on his blog. It gives you a good feel of our day out …