Bank Holiday Madness
I’m purposely keeping you all waiting for my (Not) Round Latrigg race report!
I’ve always wanted to spend the August bank holiday racing. It’s a fantastic time of year with plenty of events to choose from. Last year I had a very good reason to not be running any of them. I was the best man at my oldest and bestest mates wedding. It was a fantastic day and I was rough for a week afterwards. Typing this reminds me I must get them a card. Year one is paper. So maybe I’ll make them a card myself.
Anyho, less waffling this time! More about running.
Race one: Patterdale Dog Day (Saturday 27th August)
We decided that we’d go have a trot at Parkrun in the morning. Rachael May’s doing the Great North Run in a few weeks, and really needs to get some road miles in beforehand. I left her to do her own thing, whilst I ran with Boris. We refuelled with coffee and a bacon butty afterwards. We’d not been back yam for very long when Dirk and Janine (Rachael May’s parents) arrived. I suggested to them that we all go over to the dog day, and show them a proper Lakeland Show. So we piled into the car and set off for Patterdale.
When we arrived it was red hot. There was a poor 2 year old collie having a hard time with 2 unruly sheep in the main ring. At one point one of the sheep got out and was legging it up the road. I hope the doggo wasn’t scored too harshly as it was still doing a fantastic job. We went over to the smaller pens to watch the ‘family pet’ judging. The ring was lined with lots of children under the age of 11 and their family dogs. They had to walk their dog round a bit then sit them down to meet the judges. We were all captivated by a really tiny collie, who had eyes only for its owner. It walked perfectly to heel, and didn’t take her eyes off her. The four of us were taking bets as to who would win, we all said that collie. When the judge was handing out the prizes, we were all shocked to see it hadn’t been included in the top 3. They were robbed! Once it had finished Rachael May and I decided to go over and tell her we thought they should have won. The little girl agreed with us!
After a good mooch around I went to sign up for the race. I decided that maybe I’d do reasonably well today. If the favourite to win wasn’t guaranteed to win, then maybe I could be a spicy little underdog. This feeling lasted until I saw Lamby was there. Ah well! I thought. Despite being told the whole route was flagged I still fancied a bit of a recce. So Captain Lamb and I went for a warm up along the route. We had a decent look at the vast majority of the climb. The temperature had ramped up, and it was now baking hot.
We were all asked to enter the main ring and line up on the start line. It turns out that they’d only had 35 people enter the race, a few were in road shoes, so I was optimistic for a good run. 3..2..1..Go! Off we went out of the field. Lamby set off like a rocket. Which prompted Matthew Fearon to immediately heckle me “You’re already behind!” he shouted. “Plenty of time to catch him!” I said (spoiler alert! There wasn’t!). We ran along the road for a 100 yards or so then up across a field. I sat in 4th place hoping I’d not give too much ground to Charlie Lowther (who was in 3rd).
I managed to keep a decent pace up for most of the climb. At the top we had to clamber over a rickety old metal stile. I flung myself over and kept a decent pace up along the grassy trods over to the summit of Arnison Crag. I had been carrying one of my G stones for the whole race to put on the summit (These are stones I’m placing on top of the wainwrights that George never managed to visit. After this race we’ve done 176). As I bent down to place the stone on the cairn I managed to inhale a mouthful of flying ants. I could feel them crawling in the back of my throat and nose. Coughing and trying to hock them out I set off on the descent. I didn’t have a clue what the descent looked like, so doubted it would be a proper ‘hammer time’ descent. However, I still managed a decent pace, and got down from the summit in 4 minutes 29 seconds. Not enough to close the gap on Charlie, but good enough to cement my 4th place. I was very happy with that indeed. Dirk and Janine are very good omens for me. Wrongly they think I’m an absolute world class runner. As whenever they have watched me race I’ve never finished outside the top 6. I must invite them along to more races!
Unsurprisingly Lamby had won, and was only 11 seconds off the record!
Despite really enjoying the race, it wasn’t the real highlight of the day. That came in the evening. The four of us were joined by my Mam and Dad to go to the Sunset Supper Club, up at the Keswick Golf Course. A fantastic 7 course meal cooked by David Jackson. It’s my third time there, each time it gets better and better. Though I’m not sure how good of a prep it really was before my second race of the weekend…….
Race Two: Grasmere Guides (Sunday 28th August)
“You’ve never done Grasmere before!?” say multiple people sounding shocked to me as I’m warming up. With it being THE original fell race, it’s a right of passage for a fell runner. At 1.25miles and 900ft ascent it’s unlike most races. I have absolutely no idea of the route or how I’ll fare, but I’m here and keen to do well.
I made the short trip south of Dunmail raise to allow plenty of time to walk round the whole route beforehand, and still have time to watch some Cumberland Wrestling. The weather is muggy and very hot. Once the junior races are out of the way I decide to go have a recce. Rhys Findlay-Robinson tells me off for attempting to run the climb. “Save those legs Tonk. You’ll need them!” I promptly slow down to a walk and follow his advice. After another section of climbing I realise I’ve gone the wrong way and am about to get flattened by a load of U17’s starting their descent. I look around for the right line, and see Sharon Taylor off in the distance. She’ll know where she’s going. I’ll go follow her! I get to the summit at the same time as her, and trott down the descent. This is going to be really fun I think to myself as I practice leaping over the fence. Once down, it’s nearly time to start.
As we line up a posh man is talking into a microphone. All the speakers are facing away from us so we can’t actually hear a thing. Once he’s finished talking an even posher man comes and stands in front of us, takes out a grubby looking handkerchief and says “You may go when I drop my hanky”. He walks over to the edge of the crowd of runners, pretty much entirely out of sight for us all, and drops it. Oh crap! We’re off! As we set off The Greatest Show is playing, I can even hear Nicola Jackson singing along to it as we start the climb. Perhaps she’s just showing off about how fit she’s feeling. I try my best to run every step of the climb. Tapping away, up a hill that is just getting steeper and steeper. I didn’t think I was going too bad until I hit the path. I was doing my usual trick of clocking everyone’s footwear and mentally figuring out if they could descend or not based on their shoe choice. Which I always find is surprisingly accurate.
As I hit the path, all the power instantly drained from my legs. My breathing felt fine, I just had no oomph. I looked up and saw Nicola and Sharon at the summit. I knew I’d left too much to do on such a short descent to catch them. At the flag it was time to bring the thunder. I leaped down and set off. On the loose dry mud I ended up slightly stuck behind 3 people who decided to try and slide down on their bums (all three were in trail running shoes, not proper fell running shoes, who’d over taken me on the climb) . I pretty much jumped over one of them. I opened up my stride and went for it. Only holding up when I came across another bunch of people. I took a wide line to get past them, before accelerating again. At the bottom I had to slow up slightly to avoid going over the stupid bridge, before flinging myself over the fence. Coming into the penultimate field I had two guys in front of me and I was gaining on them. As we crossed the last fence I was at top speed. I had to push my legs down into the ground to stop them buckling as it flattened out to cross the road. Into the show field I decided now was the time to sprint as fast as I possibly could. I hammered past the final chap to finish in 17:29. Just to give you some context to how fast I’d got my little trotters going. Strava tells me it was the 4th fastest of all time from the last fence to the finish, and the second fastest time from the road to the end.
I collapsed in a heap and actually wanted to die. It took the brass band to play Eye of the tiger to get me up and have a cool down. I’ve not seen any official results. I’ve no idea if it’s a good time or not. All I know is that it was as fast as I could possibly run, and that I will be back again next year!
Race Three: Keswick Show (Monday 29th August)
I have never understood the reason why men have nipples. As a male runner they just get in the way. I also find my Keswick vest rather abrasive. This is sort of a recipe for disaster for me. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve bled due to chafing. Causing my yellow and green vest to look more like a red stripy Sunderland FC shirt. You’d have thought they’d have formed a thick callus by now. Alas no such luck.
This leads me to, what I’m told is, my most disgusting habit…… forgetting to take the tape off my nipples after running. Weeks can go by and I’ve still got the same manky tape on them. It takes either Craig, Boris or Rachael May to notice for me to take it off (what actually happens is they take it off for me as if I’m being waxed).
After Grasmere I ended up getting a little bit drunk at the leaving do for Boris. My shirt was unbuttoned by a rather drunken Boris and I had my waxing ceremony performed in front of everyone there. Ouch!
I awoke with a rather bad head and stiff legs on Monday morning. I gathered my things and set off to Braithwaite as I had agreed to help Matko with setting up for the race. The hangover was subsiding. However, I’d forgotten to reapply my nipple tape. All Matty had was some rather industrial looking blue masking tape. That’ll have to do. I cut out two neat little squares of tape and they worked perfectly. But would it ever come off!?!
I had to quickly abandon my post on the race computer as I’d not been keeping track of the time. There was only 3 minutes to go to the start of the race. I’d had no time to warm up or get ready at all. Straight into the main ring and off we went.
I could really feel the last two days of racing in my legs. Winskill went past me at Matty’s house. Chugging along I was reminded that you actually do a fair amount of climb before you reach the bottom of Stile End. It then ramps up rather drastically as you climb up to the top. I managed to run every step, but I was overtaken by a few walking. I caught them on the descent to Barrow Door. Then managed to gain a decent chunk of time by taking a better line up Barrow than the other Keswick runners in front of me. As we reached the top summit of Barrow, we were a yellow and green procession (the only thing out of place was the blue showing from my nipple tape through my vest).
“One last descent for the weekend Tonk!” I heard someone shout. Time to bring the thunder I thought! Immediately I got past Dave Prosser, then John the vet, then another small group. I felt like I was moving well. I took the line through the bracken halfway down on the left of Barrow. I was flying through there, legs feeling good. I was catching up with another runner. It was Andy Fidz (readers of my race reports will know that I am always telling Fidz he cannot descent. He’s always telling me I cannot ascend!) “Coming in hot Fiddy!” I shout. The bracken is too high to get past him, so I have to slow right down. In doing so I realised how sore my quads actually were. I was right up behind him trying to hurry him along. When I got past him he shouted “I’ll see you on the flat!”. “I bloody hope not!” was my response. I crossed the road and entered the field. I could hear what sounded like a stampede of folk behind me. My legs were instantly drained of all power and speed going across the fields. Fidz and Simon Darmody overtook me with ease. The race was about 400m too long for me today. There was no spectacular sprint finish today. I was absolutely and positively dead!
I crossed the line in 37:15, 18th position and a 3 minute pb. I was delighted with that. The only thing that concerned me was whether or not this blue tape would ever come off!
A huge thank you to all the race organisers and helpers across the three races! Time for a rest x