Sunday, October 4, 2015

3 x 3000 Ultra 2015

heading into daylight at Seathwaite

The 3 x 3000 Ultra was an event I looked at last year and thought, wow! Maybe someday.  It's a race that takes in the three fells in the Lake District which are over 3000ft, linking them up with a 50 mile route.  Last year's horrendous weather conditions added to the perceived impossibility of the event.  This year, I wasn't actually that phased about it.  I did the usual, sign up after not much persuasion from my friend Paul.

heading up Broad Crag.
Leading up to race day, I found out that a really good old friend of mine had died.  It had really upset me and I had been feeling down the whole week.  Come race day, I was pretty indifferent on the race, looking at it like it was a job to do.  I thought, I'll get up and down Scafell Pike and see how I feel after that.

An early 5am start to the race.  I set off with Paul and his mate Pete, pretty much right at the back.  The trails from Keswick along the side of Derwent Water up to Watendlath are familiar and fairly easy going.  I was trying to take it easy but was pushed along somewhat due to the single track nature of much of the trail and being pushed on knowing that people are behind me.  I pushed on a bit at Ashness Bridge but walked the hills on the road until I picked up the trail alongside Watendlath Beck.  I took it easy on the fast descent from Watendlath and then ran along through Seathwaite where I met enough daylight to take the headtorch off.  I found the walk up to Styhead Tarn easier than usual but the corridor route always catches me out.  I got the sticks out for the first time here and had a few gels.

heading towards Esk Hause.  The Langdale Pikes in the
distance floating over a nice cloud layer
The run down and over Broad Crag wasn't too bad.  The weather was pretty much perfect for running.  Pretty clear conditions, quite cool, hardly any wind.  I had to admit that I was enjoying myself.

The track from Esk Hause over towards Langdale was the start of the section that I wanted to recce last week.  It turned out that the event was really well marked out and there was very little chance of getting lost.

I had taken a different way to High Raise on my recce run, the event took a very direct line across boggy ground.  More gels into me and from the top, it was easy to pick the route down to the god-awful valley of Whythburn.

Tim's photo of me, Paul and Pete on the way up to Latrigg
The Whythburn valley was as awful as I thought it would be.  I had chosen trainers for cushioning rather than grip.  I was falling all over the place.  The weather had been pretty dry leading up to the race but it was still wet and boggy down here.

Eventually, I made it onto the road and around to the Whythburn church checkpoint and aid station.  This was a drop bag point.  I had a few items in my drop bag that were absolute winners: a little bottle of fresh orange juice and a fresh pair of socks.  As I sat changing my socks, Paul and Pete caught up and we completed the rest of the event together.  We hung around for quite a bit here but then eventually headed up the steep climb to Helvellyn.  This was definitely the hardest climb of the day but I think we all knew we had it in the bag from here.

Skiddaw - it's all downhill after that!
The run across the dodds is always nice.  This is my favourite direction to do it in.  As we headed across, we saw our, soon to be friend Tim, at one point we saw him fall on his arse, at another point we saw him head up Great Dodd, which you don't have to do!

The run down Clough Head was really hard.  Again, I was slipping in my old shoes.  As we ran along the track, Tim caught up with us at the next checkpoint and then again as we started to climb Latrigg.

At the race briefing, they had said that, if when you get to Latrigg carpark, you are really tired and don't want to do an extra ten miles around and over Skiddaw, you can turn left down into Keswick.  They said that they would still give you a finishers time - that they wouldn't consider it a DNF.  I thought at the time that this would be very tempting but, despite being tired and sore, there was no way any of us wasn't going to put that last ten miles in.

My knee started to hurt as we passed Skiddaw House.  Paul gave me some ibuprofen which seemed to sort it out.  We both dosed up on gels.  The final climb up to Bakestall wasn't as almighty god-awful as I thought it would be.  We broke up the climb and I had my sticks which helped a lot.  At the fence corner, we put on jackets and other warm items.  I put my headtorch back in my pocket and it was on at the top of Skiddaw.  I was really pleased to get to this point in the daylight.  My aim had been to get down off the dodds before it got dark.

There was a self-clip checkpoint on Skiddaw summit before we enjoyed a nice run down to the car park and last checkpoint.  A few swigs of coke and then we chilled our way down the Spooney Green Lane path.  We walked past the leisure centre, and past the park, thinking we would save our energy for a final run into town.

at the end.
Well this was a great race.  It got me out of my slump.  Definitely the hardest in terms of longest, most elevation.  The easy pace I took it at meant that it didn't feel as though it took as much out of me as some of the events this year that I have tried to get a decent time in.

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