Newlands Memorial Round

by Tonk

I have become completely obsessed with red pesto. My current meal of choice is Pancetta, halloumi, peppers, leeks, mushrooms all fried off and whacked into a big pot of rigatoni pasta with red pesto, salad on the side. It’s delicious, nutritious and good for my soul. I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious, I am however a little stitious. So far this year I’ve had this for my tea before every big race (Minus Northern Ireland). 

On Tuesday evening after my Anni Waltz recce we headed over to Penrith (or as I call it “The Land of things” due to the insane amount of supermarkets for such a small place) for the big Aldi shop. Despite what my friends say about me being the richest man in Keswick, I can’t quite afford to do all my shopping in Booths! Food shopping has always been a bit of a thing in our family. My Nana used to write her food shopping in chronological order following the Penrith Aldi layout. Cereal, Bread, Veg, Meat finishing with the alcohol last. If they had to go to Cockermouth Aldi it would really throw her as it was a completely different layout. I’m not sure she’d have been a fan of the new bigger Aldi in Penrith. My Grandad, however, loves it. He just walks around “I’ll have one of them, one of them, one of them.” with a grin on his face. I can still hear my Nana telling him off whenever I’m in Aldi “OOh Pete. What have you bought that for!?!” Which usually meant he had to go on the shameful walk to put it back on the shelves. 

Due to the crazy times we’re living in there seems to be a current national shortage of red pesto. I scoured the shelves but there was none to be had. I’d have stormed out in protest, but I really did need the shopping. 

The rest of the week was thrown off by having my pre-race meal on Wednesday night. What was I thinking!? So naturally on Thursday I felt fantastic! I ran twice, cut the grass and did a load of jobs I’d been putting off. I felt unstoppable in the glorious sunshine. 

Friday night came around fast and we’d no red pesto. So I had to have something else. Like the addict I am, my withdrawal symptoms were kicking in as I was watching Ted Lasso before bed. My head was pounding, I was shivering and sweating at the same time. I had an awful dream that night involving getting trapped inside an oil painting with a banana. A genuine fear of mine. Banana’s that is, not oil paintings. In all honesty I’m not sure which is more pathetic! The next morning I woke up feeling a bit crap. 

The morning of the race I didn’t dare change a thing. I had my usual breakfast. Listened to Thunderstruck at least 3 times, tied my left shoe first, had a gel 20 minutes before the start….I might have been lying when I said I wasn’t superstitious by the way!


As we set off I was trying really hard to not go off too quickly. A glance at my watch showed 6:37 min/mile pace and I felt comfortable. The idea was to get the first climb done in an easy gear then get shifting. I was really getting a bit annoyed by someone near me who kept sprinting to overtake me, then walk which meant I’d get past, then they’d sprint, then walk etc. I was very close to just telling him to just take it a tad easier and pace himself, but I thought “Don’t be that guy”. It was mighty impressive to see the lead Finlay Wild already had on everyone as he was making his way up Robinson. 

With the Robinson checkpoint moved to protect the ‘Bob trod’ it meant I didn’t summit Robinson. A lot of folk in front of me did though, so I made some ground on them. During the next descent and climb I really started to feel rubbish. I received a cheeky pat on the bum from Calum Tinnion as I climbed Hindscarth, which was one of the highlights of the race. I stuck with him for a bit and asked if he was winning the teenager “Don’t be daft I’m 6th” he replied. 

I finally managed to get rid of sprinty-walky man coming down to Dale Head tarn, and tried to catch Lee Proctor. I got a waddle on but I was struggling. Paul Reilly said I was looking muscle bound as we were going along, which really made me laugh. Just a few days ago an old friend of mine was commenting on how feeble my upper body strength is these days, after my phase of trying to get huge in the gym in my late teens and early 20’s.  


Those who know me will know that as a family we’ve had a rather stressful time of late. My training has taken a bit of a hit because of it. I’ve done barely any speed work and have replaced sessions with easy trots out to finish my Wainwrights. It’s been very good for my mental health and very enjoyable, but probably not what you need when you’re trying to catch folk in the second half of a race.  There’s a lot of running back from Dale Head Tarn, after the drag up High Spy. 

Climbing Cat Bells I felt void of all life and happiness. Until I saw my good friend MMB, which brought my second highlight of the race. He actually told me he was proud of me “If you can keep pushing whilst you’re feeling rubbish then that’s great. I’m proud of you” I’ve only ever heard those words twice before in my life. At the summit I knew I’d not catch Proctor. I had an alright descent, but me heart wasn’t in it. As I joined the road I was coming in hot to the back of Cartwright and Lego Hair. “Make way for the king!” I shouted before I ran into them like a bowling ball. 

I crossed the line in 1:55:19. Despite setting a 7 minute personal best, I was disappointed. Numerous people came up to me at the end to check if I was alright because I looked so rough. “Hell Tonk, you were struggling there eh!” It was the truth, but not what I really wanted to hear at the end. I’d forgotten about the disappointment halfway through my beer though. 

Plenty of work to be done. More importantly though, I’m having pasta and red pesto for tea the night before my next race! 

Full results are here

There was a good Keswick turn out across both races. Big shout out to Nic Jackson for continuing her great form and taking the win! 

See you all at the next race,

Lots of love,