Buttermere Shepherd’s Meet

By Tonk

I’ve been buzzing all week after last week’s relays. I went to club training on Tuesday evening and gave it my all. 5 x 5minute efforts on the road. A horrible session, but one that will get you fit. Perfect for my upcoming road 10k around Chester Zoo next weekend. Rumour has it the last mile is through the Lion enclosure! 

As I was walking through town after ParkRun yesterday I spotted some rather nice, almost leopard print, shorts in the window at Cotswold. Me being me I decided I’d go try them on. In my rush to show Rachael May how cool they were I came storming out of the changing rooms with just my socks on and picked up a huge splinter in my foot from the wooden floor. “If I drop to the floor maybe I’ll get them for free!” I thought. Unfortunately the lass serving us is one of my patients at work. I received no sympathy from her, as I’ve put her through worse pain with a well placed elbow into her tensor fasciae latae (TFL). Rachael May also told me to man up. I hopped back and removed the massive splinter from my foot, avoiding getting any blood on the shorts. In the end I treated myself to them, and they’ll make their debut next weekend round Chester Zoo. 




On Sunday it was the final club fell champs race at the Buttermere Shepherds meet. It clashed with the club trail champs event, which went around Buttermere and Crummock. Rachael May was going to do that with The Beast (a.k.a Hector, a.k.a Hecky Bobs) which meant we had to be in Buttermere for a 9am start, 2 ½ hours early for my race. I saw them off and went for a rather comprehensive warm up, and headed up High Snockrigg. It was boggy and started battering it down. I looked at my watch and even though I’d practically walked up I still had 2 hours till kick off. As I dropped down to Gatesgarth farm I realised I’d been struck with a massive case of I’m-a-fanny-itis a debilitating issue which strips one of all motivation to go outside in the cold and wet. I made it into the barn and had a good crack with Tom Simpson and Bryony. Tom told me it was also an Ambleside club champs today. When I told them I might not race I received a look that said “I always knew Keswick runners were soft”. To prove them wrong I went and paid before I changed my mind, again! 

Once I paid I put all my layers on and went for my second warm up and ran with Sophie Likeman. The flagged route, which I told folk was our route, was actually the junior route, and probably no good for us seniors to follow. It wasn’t actually that cold, I was just being a wimp. I rammed a gel down meself, chucked my extra kit in the back of Stan and Gill Atkinson’s car and went up to the start. 


We were told “As long as you go out and back through that gate I don’t care which way you go!” It was great to see so much route choice for a 3 mile fell race. To make sure we were all here we had to shout our numbers out, in numerical order! Which can be a painstaking ordeal, but it worked reasonably smoothly today. Once it was agreed everyone was there it was time to go. “On your marks….go!”


Off we went. At 1.5 miles and 2000ft to the summit of Robinson, it’s fairly steep. The whole way up I was looking for my line on the way down. I tucked in behind Sophie for most of the first half of the climb, but she pulled away from me as the gradient flattened out. Maybe the 2 hours of warm up running I’d done wasn’t such a great idea. I was looking at who was ahead of me and placing a few mental bets as to who I could catch on the descent. Over the stile I pushed on a bit as to not leave too much to do on the descent. 


I thanked the marshalls for being at the summit in the pretty grim conditions. Then I let gravity take its effect and set off after folk. I’d decided to stick to the heather for the descent. After all, that’s all I ran through last weekend. I was moving pretty good but I felt a pop in my foot half way down. Instinctively I winced, and used a rocky section to actually look at my feet for a damage inspection. Phew! It wasn’t an injury to my body! But my shoe was falling apart. The seam on the inside of my shoe (which has been holding on my a thread for the last 2 races) had gone. I pushed on despite skidding a lot, though everyone was at this point. I managed to balls up the final obstacle of the day, jumping over a laal stream, falling flat on my face. As I stumbled to get up I said something like “ARGH! AMBLESIDE ARE COMING!!” I managed to hold off any late surges and finished in 41 minutes and in 12 place. I’d managed to over take all but one person who I was hoping to catch, Rob Brown. He’d taken a radge line and disappeared out of sight early on, but it clearly worked! 


At the end I assessed the damage to my shoe. My favourite pair of shoes would sadly not survive this fatal injury. What a way to bow out of their fell running career. A proper fell race, in proper Lakeland conditions. 


After a cup of tea and some cake with the boys, it was time to jog back to Buttermere. As I jogged along the shore, shoe flapping all over the place, my thought turned to lunch. Perhaps Rachael May is waiting for me in a cafe. Eagerly I popped my head into Syke’s, The Fish and the other cafe to try and find her. I thought I was probably too wet and muddy to be allowed into the bridge! No luck, so I made my way back to the car. My greeting consisted of “5 more minutes and we’d have left you!”. She then told me that Hector had finished first dog today, thus scoring 100 points in the club champs! 

Once back yam I gave my shoes a cleaning, and laid them to rest. Thank you for your service, we’ve had one hell of a time! Rest in peace.