|heading down into Ennerdale late on day one|
Jonathan and I have signed up for the St Bega's Ultra (SBU35), a 35 or so mile long race put on by UKan Trail. The course starts in Dodd Wood at Bassenthwaite, crossing to run along the trail at Derwent Water, over Honister via the slate mine, down into and along the Ennerdale Valley, through Ennerdale Bridge, over Dent and along to St Bees. This weekend, there was a recce weekend and we went along.
|crossing from Dodd Wood to Portinscale|
The meeting place, and also the finish of the weekend was St Bees School. We were the first to arrive and were met by Jon, race director and David, his right hand man. We were registered and given instructions while we waited for the other participants to turn up. Among the 'regular' runners were Holly Rush, an extremely talented runner who has represented Great Britain and England numerous times and was the fastest female last year; Howard Seal, a local talent who won the race last year; and Renee McGregor, a Nutritionist who works with Holly and other top runners and sportspeople. As soon as everyone was there, we set off in the minibus to Dodd Wood, the starting point. The course climbs gradually at the start along the forest tracks before veering off to the right and heading downhill steeply to the road. Most of this is familiar territory, Jonathan and I have ran many times around the Dodd Wood tracks but the turn off was a new track. At the bottom of this track, we were at the road and crossed to the track that goes along the side of the River Derwent. I had been wanting to explore this track for a while. It's a good track, although I imagine it gets boggy in places when the weather has been wet.
|a sudden rude climb at the start of the way over Honister|
|at the bottom of Loft Beck|
The run along to Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre (our overnight stop) is about three miles on forest track. Jonathan and I managed a decent run along here even though we couldn't keep up with the lead group. The track can be a bit monotonous (as far as that is possible in the Lake District) and tough on the feet if you have a few miles in your legs but, again with David helping on the motivation, we reeled it in. Jugs of juice and a great selection of cakes were waiting for us when we got there. To start with, I couldn't face eating anything and just had a lot to drink. After a while I had a few pieces of cake before heading for a very welcome shower and change of clothes. That shower, although it somewhat dribbled from the shower head, and that change of clothes are among the greatest things ever to happen to me.
|happy to be coming over the second to last 'bump'|
|checking the map at the final aid station|
From the top of Dent, there is a nice descent into woods where the track carries on down gradually to Cleator which was the location of our final aid station. We had about three miles to go from this point. I still had plenty of water on me so I filled up a bit on flapjack and a flat coke as well as jelly babies. Jonathan had opted to run in different shoes but his feet were in really bad shape. He got them bandaged up and carried on. Shortly after the aid station, the route goes onto the cycle track and then across some fields until the final track. St Bees School was a very welcome sight. We all congratulated one another and posed for more photos on the steps before going in and getting our bags. There was the option of showers but Jonathan and I thanked everyone and headed home via Tesco (double milkshake).
This was a brilliantly organised and friendly weekend. I think running with this group pushed us faster than we might go in the actual race and that is why we both had difficulties of different sorts. David and Jon were brilliant as were their army of helpers who very efficiently managed the aid stations, checkpoints, meals and transport. Holly and Howard also gave lots of tips and were inspirational in their individual approaches. The SBU35 is going to be a brilliant event. We are both really looking forward to it.
Thanks to David for letting me use some of his photos for the blog post. I hope you feel it's a fair and positive write up mate and if it brings you any more entries, they are well deserved.
|do we look happy to have finished?|