Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Conistathon



Athletic endeavours come in many shapes and sizes.  Jonathan and I dabbled in triathlon last year, entering sprint triathlons, all of which had the swim section in a pool.  The next step would be to enter triathlons with open water swims.  This had  been my plan for this summer but, over the winter months, I got more and more into fell and trail running and the biking and swimming, particularly open water swimming took a back seat.

A week off work and some scorching weather seemed the ideal opportunity to get back into things.  Proper triathlons can be quite expensive, sell out quickly and tend to have a longer open water swim than I am comfortable with. Therefore, I conceived the Conistathon, a swim, bike and a run in the Coniston area.  The goals were to get a swim and bike in and then bag Green Crag (a Wainwright Fell in the Coniston area) on the run section.

After some online research, I identified Monk Coniston car park as a great location to start the swim and bike from.  It's right on the shore of the north end of Coniston.

nice calm Coniston

Jonathan warms up

Paul breathes in

The swim was interesting.  The entry from the car park was nice and I got in and got swimming quickly.  I usually find that I take a while to get my confidence to head into deeper water.  The water was lovely and warm and we just headed out.  We swam through a large reed patch which was a bit disconcerting but after a bit, the water got deeper and so we were clear of the reeds.

So confidence was fine (open water swimming is all about confidence) but I just couldn't get into the swing of the swim and was struggling with breathing properly.  We hung around for a bit in the middle of the lake and then headed back to the shore.

A few flapjacks later and a lot of mucking about trying to untie my car key from my wetsuit, we headed off on the bike leg.

all ready to go

We headed right from the carpark and along the eastern shore of Coniston.  This is a nice road to cycle and we went past lots of other good swim locations.  We might have to explore some Swallows and Amazons islands, swims and other territory at some point.  We looped out from the lake at the south end, taking in a big descent at Grizebeck before heading up to Broughton in Furness where we stopped for refuelling.

food and hydration
As we should have expected, beer and crisps are not great fuel for a bike ride.  For the next mile or so we plodded along but soon after, we got back into the swing of things.  The road from Broughton in Furness to Coniston is quite a good one.

We did a few extra loops of the car park to take the distance up to 26.2 miles so that Jonathan had an idea of a marathon distance.  Then it was another transition, sorting the bikes out, getting changed, and driving off to the run start, tucking into more flapjacks on the way.

There are plenty of run options that we could have taken from the car park.  Coniston Old Man would have been a really good route to do.  However, I had another motive of bagging a far flung Wainwright so I had made a run course starting from the Newfield Inn at Seathwaite.

The first part of the course was the same route I took on my recent Duddon Horseshoe run.  This is a really nice start through the woods and then on to Grassguards.

From here, the path goes through the forest and it's not great.  There were a lot of flies around.  Jonathan tried and tried the technique of swearing at them but it didn't work so the only option we had was to keep going.

We both had tired legs at this point and we walked most of the way to the edge of the forest.  From here we took a track across to Green Crag.  

Again besieged by flies, we made steady progress to the summit.

On the summit, we met an interesting fellow who told us about marshalling at the recent Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (or SLiM as he called it).  We also heard about his hiking exploits over the last week (which seemed to include a lot of sunbathing).  He took a picture for us at the summit and then headed off towards Eskdale.

I had originally though about heading to the Birker Fell Road and then running along here back to Seathwaite but we decided against this for a more direct route.  We took a compass bearing to the top of Caw and headed back in that direction.  After a bit of fence hopping and heather negotiating, we got back on a track through the woods and back to Seathwate for some food and further refreshment.

top of Green Crag (Wainwright number 210 for me)

run route

back at the Newfield Inn

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