The outcome of sport can often come down to a single moment. I got up early doors and drove through to Mam and Dad’s to watch the Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and England. Although we’re Scottish when it comes to Rugby (with my sister Evie playing for them) it’s nice to see former school friends Abbie Ward (nee Scott) and Catherine O’Donnell both doing well.
As is often the case in sport, the result came down to a few single moments. With 2 minutes left on the clock, England chose to go for a lineout rather than go for points. They wanted to win! Heartbreakingly the England lineout, which had been perfect all tournament long, went a bit pear shaped. The ball was turned over and booted out into touch. England had lost. I was sad for a few minutes, then went for my breakfast. It’s race day today, hopefully my race won’t come down to a single moment to make or break it!
I’d never done the Dunnerdale route until Wednesday. I managed to have the morning off work and timed it to perfection as the weather was stunning. Hector enjoyed being back on the fells again, as I’ve done far more road miles than I’d naturally do!
I’d managed to persuade my sister’s boyfriend, Harrison, to enter the race. As he was getting ready we realised that everything he was wearing, minus glasses and undies, was provided by the Tonkin family. We jump in the van and head way down south of Dunmail Raise to Broughton Mills.
As we walked down to the village hall I learnt something truly shocking…My unsporty youngest sister, Esther, wasn’t actually hiding in her bedroom the whole time between the years of 11-14, she was out playing county cricket. I had absolutely no idea she had done that, and still won’t believe it until I see photographic evidence.
Before the race started we had 2 minutes of silence for armistice day. I was then asked by Bryony Halcrow “How fast are you setting off today?!” “As fast as I can!” I replied. She wanted to know because her plan was to keep me in her sights all day and then nip past me at the last minute when I’ve inevitably burnt up. She then clearly tried to psych me out by staring at me rather intensely for the next few minutes. So I went and hid behind a few other runners so she’d lose sight of me.
As we set off I was thinking about last week’s road race. Up the road and onto the fell. As we climbed to the first summit I could feel the hot breath of Phil Winskill on my neck. Some folk dream of being in my position, I thought. We reached the summit together, then I put some distance in him on the descent.
It was baking hot. 15 minutes in, I felt hot, bothered and tired. Probably the sheer amount of races I’ve done recently catching up with me. I crossed the road knowing the I would probably see Philipo again. Every shadow that approached me looked like him. I was waiting for a comment like “Hello sweet cheeks”, but it didn’t come. I managed to tap away the steep climb up to Raven’s Crag. The summit marshall had his Border Collie there helping him. As I lent forward to dib in the dog lifted his chin and looked at me, so I had to give him a quick scratch under the chin “Good marshalling mate!” I said to him. Phil was right behind me again.
The descent felt a bit laboured, I was nowhere near max velocity, but I was moving alright. If I could reach the last summit with Phil then I’d beat him. I pushed on, took a direct line across the bogs, which fortunately paid off. Running in to the blazing sun, sweat was dripping into my eyes. I’ve been cooler at a Wednesday night race in July! This is not November weather.
The last descent was my chance to make sure nobody else could catch me. I over took a chap near the summit, who was in trail shoes. He looked like he was slipped all over the place. Once I hit the road I emptied the tank through Broughton Mills and then gritted my teeth along the uphill finish. Crossed the field and was done. 47 minutes and 30th place was all I could manage today. It looked like Bryony had been chasing us down the whole time, and she just managed to pip Winskill to the line. Well done!
You could see the steam rising off folk as we dug into our finishers pie/pasty. Cheese and onion pasty for me. I had a good crack with folk whilst I waited with Betts for Harrison to finish. He did very well for his first ‘proper fell race’ (the other two being Loopy Latrigg, a gloried trail race, and S.O.B which is a great race, but very different to this) Then we set off back yam, stopping off at Chester’s for some cake. A lovely day out!
Once home I realised the major downside of owning a dog. He’d need a run! So I stayed in my sweaty clothes and took him out. It almost killed me!
Full results here