Saturday night was stormy, wet and very windy. Things were not looking promising weather-wise for Sunday’s marathon; whether it was raining or not, the fells were always going to be very wet, very muddy and very slippy. Come Saturday morning it was cloudy, but there were no real threats of serious rain, however, the forecast was 40mph+ wind. I have been struggling with a knee injury since my last off-road marathon two months ago and four weeks ago I couldn’t even run a mile without pain, so this was always going to be a huge challenge to finish this, so much so that the weekend before I still wasn’t even sure if I was going to attempt it.
This was my first fell race so I was not really sure what to expect from it, except a MASSIVE climb to the half way point and the summit of the highest mountain in England. The route runs up the ‘corridor route’. If anyone has ever been up there they’ll know it is not only un-runnable, but also pretty dangerous when the rocky sides of the mountain feel like they are covered in ice and there are huge unpredictable gusts of wind. The climb felt slow, but the real issue was the higher we got the less visibility there was, so much so that I didn’t even realise I was at the top until I was within ten meters of the summit as you just couldn’t see it.
Up there the gusts, wind and rain were brutal; that, alongside the grumpiest marshal (understandably!) and no visibility meant the inevitable happened – myself and the six others I was with got lost! We spent about twenty-five minutes wondering around the top of the mountain, dropping 200ft down one side only to realise that was the wrong way, so there was another slog back to the top, but somehow we managed to find the un-marked path down.
It was at this point, my worse fear started…my knee started to hurt, but all I had to do was to slowly plod in the final half. This sounded easy, but when the trails are boulders you have hop between, it was easier said than done, and a final, one-mile steep 800ft climb around twenty-one miles really made this a challenging race.
I ended up doing 27.7 miles with 7,197ft climb(!), finishing in 40th position with a time of 5hrs 42mins. This was a once in a lifetime race for myself; unfortunately I didn’t get the views from the highest point in England, but the views through the valleys were stunning and who knows, one day I may get to see the views from Scafell, I just doubt I’ll be racing to the top again!