Loughrigg and Silverhow

by Tonk

January was pretty crap. I didn’t manage to go on holiday, I’d hurt my knee, I wasn’t running very well and our washing machine broke! Whilst we wait on getting a new one, which is being kindly donated to us by Pete Rigby and Kelly Roberts. I am doing what any kid does when they move out, take my washing round to me Mam’s. I will add that I’m not actually getting her to do it!

I slung a load into their washing machine yesterday after the Keswick AC social run. Then sat down to watch the Six Nations whilst waiting for the machine to finish. With my sister Evie playing for Scotland, it was nice to see them beat England at Twickenham. Once home I hung it out to dry, and cooked tea. (I promise this is all relevant)

After an early night I woke up Sunday morning feeling pretty good. Today’s race..Loughrigg and Silverhow from Ambleside. The first race in my recent article “The Tonkin List For Cheapskates”. £2 to enter meant it was a real bargain! I’d enjoyed Thursday’s recce with Hector, so I was feeling really up for it. Loads of route choice, three climbs and a mixture of real steep, rough terrain to really fast runnableness. 


It was a chilly morning and I had to defrost the van before I could set off. I got parked up, and actually paid more for that than the race. As I left the car my phone pinged. “These aren’t mine!” it read, and was quickly followed up by a photo of a red pair of lacey ladies underwear. What I’d forgotten to tell Rachael May was that there was accidentally some of Mam and Norm’s clothes mixed in with ours when I’d washed it. I replied “Busted!” then said “if you think that’s bad then DO NOT look on the top of the drying rack!” Laughing to myself I did a few laps of the park with Tony Bolton (father of Lego Hair) to warm up.


It was time for the off! The steepest climb is definitely the first part up the road. I settled into a grove and stuck to it. I was determined to have a good run today, to put all of January’s negativity behind me. The front runners weren’t that far ahead of me, which was nice to see. As I approached the last climb to the summit of Loughrigg, I realised I was about 45 seconds behind them. They’d all gone a very obscure way to the top. Navigationally challenged in their own back garden!? Perhaps Haha! 

On the descent I caught Fidz, Sharon Taylor and James Harris. James went left at the road, we all went right. Fidz and Sharon are much better climbers than I am, so the plan was to hang on to them as best as I could then catch up on the descents.   

It’s a lovely traverse then climb up to Silverhow. As I approached the summit I was counting how many folk were ahead of me. I must have been about 11th at the summit. Fids and Sharon must have had a couple of minutes on me as I went into the descent. I managed to hammer along to catch Sharon, then hit the road at High Close just behind Fidz. 

The final climb up Loughrigg was a powerhike, running as often as I could. Lego hair and Stephen Wilson were at the summit. With the bit between my teeth I said “Lets f***ing go!” as I fly over the top. I’d no idea how far behind those two I was, but I knew I’d have to push to close the gap. The easy running off Loughrigg meant they did take some catching though. I was almost in touching distance when we started the climb up to Lily Tarn, so naturally, they dropped me….again! 

At the start of the race we were told the checkpoint at the tarn was unmanned. To make sure that we’d been there organisers Abdelnoor and Dan Duxbury had put a photo of an animal on the bench. We had to tell them marshals at the finish what the animal was to prove we’d been to it.

I knew coming down from the tarn was rough in places. So I knew I could catch them again. I took a risk at the laal footbridge thinking I could run straight over the beck. Which would have got me past them both, but unfortunately you have to go across the bridge as there’s a high wall on the other side. Crap! I had to back track and cross the bridge. Which meant they both crossed before me. I took a bad line on the bend on the road and nearly went straight into Sharon. As Fidz and I hammered down the road Sharon shouted at Fidz “you can’t leave me now, after I’ve shown you the whole route!”. He didn’t seem to care though and sped up. I was right behind him as we crossed over the bridge, with the tight bends I knew I couldn’t get past him as there wasn’t enough distance left to out sprint him. 

I crossed the line in 1:19:58. 9th place overall. A real confidence boosting result for me, and hopefully a sign that my running is going the right way! 

Full results here

I made my way back to the van, to see a dozen texts waiting for me off Rachael May. I can’t say what they all said as children might be reading this, and there was a lot of swearing. I can tell you everyone was about the mystery pair of ladies underwear, and not asking how I’d gotten on. Rather than text her back I decided it would be funnier for me, and more annoying for her to explain in person.

Before she could open her mouth to tell me off I said “Hold out your hands and close your eyes!” Which stumped her. She did as instructed with a perplexed look on her face. I reached for the item on top of the drying rack. “I know you think those ladies knickers are bad.” I said “But these are worse!” as I laid a pair of me Dad’s boxers on her open hands. “Ewwwwww!” she screamed before nearly being sick.  At least they were clean.