Saturday, June 20, 2015

St Bega's Ultra Recce run

climbing up through Honister Slate Mine - biggest climb of the route

all set.  Jonathan forgot his PE kit.  Lined up in heigh order, I'm the small fry on the right

the face of innocence
The St Bega Ultra, our local ultra race and one which my little fell running group Hardly AC have a special connection with.  We count amongst our ranks a previous winner, nervous first timers and those that have ardently stated that they will never again undertake such a momentous task.  It's touted as an ideal first ultra race at a mere 35 miles (psst, closer to 37) but you can make it as tough, or as relatively easy as you want.  Today we had planned a recce of the hilly middle section.  From the end of the first flatter section at Rosthwaite (although we actually got dropped off a bit earlier at Grange) over the main climb of the route at Honister Slate mine across the open fells, descending to Ennerdale along the valley and then to our cars at Ennerdale Bleach Green car park at the far end of the lake.  

Today, race director, Jon had managed to squeeze us all into his camper van and we enjoyed a cosy ride and interesting conversation to the start point.

This is a good bit of the race to recce.  There are a few little turn offs that it's worth knowing about, like the route out of Rosthwaite through the youth hostel and the turn up the steep grass bank onto the bridleway.  Once you are on the track across the fells and have found the drop down Loft Beck, the navigation becomes a lot easier.

drop off point in Grange

we're a serious bunch

Just outside of Rosthwaite is a steep short climb up a grassy bank onto the bridleway up to Honister.  We tried to tire Howard out by sending him back down to run up again, supposedly to get a better photo.  It didn't work.

The bridleway goes alongside the road at Honister, crossing the road to the Slate Mine.  This picture is taken at the start of the climb through Honister Slate Mine.  These two reprobates still having fun.

the weather closed in, as it often does, over the tops.  There is a good track and cairns to follow but some basic navigation ability is needed.

the entrance to the steep drop down Loft Beck.  Ennerdale Valley below.  This is a steep descent but there is a decent stepped path so should pose no real problem if you take your time.

looking back up

The track is a lot nicer along Ennerdale valley and it's an opportunity to get a few fast miles in, but a lot of people are caught out by how long this section is.  Trail shoes, rather than fell shoes, help to dampen out some of the sharper stones that can hurt your feet after a while.

The whole team got back to the cars safe and well.  It was certainly nice not to have to ferry people back to Rosthwaite.  It had been a hot and muggy day so we went our separate ways for refreshment and rest.

Thanks again to Jon for the lift (and the SBU35 in training shirts).  This really is a great event, get yourself entered before it's too late.

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