Buttermere 10 Race Report

Spoiler: I took home the bacon. [Not actual bacon, which would have been nice, but a glass trophy, also very nice]

Now, I don’t want to write this post and try to be a) casual about winning, as I’m absolutely loving the fact I did and fairly surprised also, or b) overplay the significance of it, as clearly it wouldn’t take much for a faster runner to be on the start line and I’d get comfortably beaten. But hey, you can only run against who is there I guess. Onwards.

It was an early start on Sunday morning, alarm at 6.30am, granola fruit and yoghurt (the usual) and a coffee to gan and I was out the door with Agnes and Molly. I was looking after my brothers dog Molly for the weekend. Shes an awesome black Cocker Spaniel who NEVER stops. But she exercises Agnes nicely. Race registration was 8.30-10, but with parking at a premium I went early and took the dogs for a walk along Buttermere for 45 mins. I think if you want to really enjoy places like Buttermere then you have to get there early, ahead of the crowds. The Lake was like a mill pond and with the sun rising just above the fells tops it made for a beautiful morning.

I met Rosie at registration and collected my number, used the facilities and headed back to the car to change and drop of the dogs. Although the sun was out it wasn’t warm enough to make the van hot, even so I hung a dust sheet up inside the van to stop it warming up. We left the dogs at the last minute and jogged down to the start, an entertaining briefing from Ian Mulvey and we were ready.

I’d had knee pain on Fridays run and spent the eve foam rolling like a mad man for the entirety of Titanic. I lashed on some kinesio tape in a way I seem to remember Dan Anderton showing me last year (wild guess) so I was dubious if I’d be halted with some more knee pain. I also paced a guy round Carlisle parkrun for his A-level assesment on Sat morning and then broke in a new pair of runners that eve whilst testing my knee (Inov-8 Roclite 290), not the first time I’ve raced in a brand new pair. I ran 33 miles in a pair straight out the box last summer during OCC. I’ll get caught out one day.

Race strategy – go out hard for 2 miles, see how the knee is and where you are at. I’m generally very cautious and running hard from the start isn’t my usual tactic, but you gotta try sometimes, right?

Mile 1 – The countdown started from 30 (thirty) seconds… 20 seconds… 15..10.. (can I warm up again please?) 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO! With not many folk seemingly keen to be at the front there was plenty of space and I was first over the footbridge and along Buttermere shoreline. This was the best part of the course for running, nice and hard gravel paths. I could hear 3/4 pairs of feet close behind me. I was already blowing hard but told myself to keep at it until 2 miles.

Mile 2 – A quick u-turn and a rocky uphill section through the trees. Had a glance, there were 4 of us all 15 yards apart from each other. I was pulling away uphill, but the fella in 2nd closed the gap on the flat. Back at the footbridge and on towards Crummock Water.

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Mile 2

Mile 3 – Having done my hard 2 miles I figured I’d do another and see where 2nd place was. This was a very wet and rocky mile along hard paths and windy single track. Think I made some ground, not sure.

Mile 4 – Starting to feel it a bit now, stupidly had a glance behind me, kicked a stone and fell forwards, putting my hands down to save my knees. Something that lots of people didn’t manage to do. The mixture of bog, boggy grass and rocks made for slippery going, I counted 5 people with split knees getting patched up at the finish line. But, we ain’t there yet.

Mile 5 – More of the same, one minute I felt like I was going well only to run into a bog or take a poor line and slow down or lose rhythm. Still grafting, wondering if I’d be able to keep this up for another 6 miles.

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Running along Crummock

Mile 6 – No bogs! Huzzah! Interesting section along shale beach, over footbridges and on top of concrete flood type walls (that’s their name). Much better going made it easier to enjoy, had a glance back at a kissing gate, had about a minute lead. Could I?

Mile 7 – Doubts. Legs starting to struggle uphill, took a gel, wish I hadn’t. “Mmmmm mocha syrup with no water, just what I wanted in my dry mouth”. This would be a great bit of track to run along without the fear of being caught in your head.

Mile 8 – Legs gone. Water station was at the start of this mile, much needed gobful of water, some poured on my head. It was a steady pull up Rannerdale, where in a months time it will look like this, and I was really struggling. Another kissing gate, another gap update. Much closer, 30 metres. Oh heck. “I’d have taken 2nd at the start”… “don’t be a berk, keep running”.

Mile 9 – I was loving the downhills, I felt like my legs were turning over easily. However, the start of this mile took us up and over the corner of Rannerdale Knotts, it was only 100 or so feet, but it was steep and I was walking, practically on the spot. Looked behind me at the top. Has that guy just jumped 50 feet up that hill? “FFS I’m gonna be caught!”. Pegged it down the hill as fast as I could, over the road and passed the corner of Crummock. Kissing gate, I’ve pulled away! “How much faster would he have to run to catch me over a mile?…” “Too much to think about, keep running”.

Mile 10 – I’m actually going to win. Bloody brilliant. Ran in behind Buttermere village, through Syke Farm campsite and along the gravel road to the finish line. All with a cheesy grin on my face. I managed to put 30 seconds onto 2nd place in the last mile and finished in 1:09:09. A quick photo and a slug of water and I walked back to get the dogs while cheering on the other finishers.

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Finish line snap

The dogs didn’t even get excited when I arrived, too busy sleeping! Miserable gits. I shouted at Rosie as she passed us, she’d just overtaken someone so didn’t want to be caught. She finished 5th women in 1:39:46, amazing effort as she’d not done much running due to work lately. The dogs had a swim, we had some cake and chatted in the sun.

An altogether excellent day out!

Distance – 10 miles | Elevation – 900 feet | Time on feet – 1hr 9mins

Trail booty

 

Strava view
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Inter Counties Cross Country Report

I got to wear a Cumbria vest. For sport. Amazing. That’s something that I had hoped might happen a while back, but certainly not for running.

I’d like to thank Mike Storey, a fellow DH Runner, firstly, for telling me about the Carlisle XC at Rickerby Park the morning after the DH Christmas Party, he said at the time he would do it too! Halfway round I was wishing I hadn’t either. That was my entry into cross country running, an alcohol fueled headache/don’t be sick fest. Having forgotten how much I’d suffered a month earlier, I decided to run the Cumbria XC Champs, also at Rickerby Park in January. I placed 9th and that was enough to receive a surprise email informing me I’d qualified to represent Cumbria at the Inter-Counties in Loughborough on March 11th. Chuck in a clarty 3rd at Knowsley Safari Park with blisters for the Northern XC Champs and I was race ready for a national event…

My alarm went off at 4.45am (not a typo) to catch the bus leaving Carlisle at 5.30am. We arrived at an airfield in/near/around Loughborough at 10.30am, the senior mens race wasn’t until 2.45pm. Queue 4 hours of standing about, paddling in the mud trying to watch the other races, in which Cumbria did quite well, especially the juniors (a 1st and a 2nd). It was noon when I realised I hadn’t taken any cash out and that 2 plain porridge pots from Asda and a banana weren’t going to sustain my energy levels for the rest of the afternoon. There’s always lessons to learn. Ignoring my hunger I went for a warm up with a few of the other lads, we ran 2 miles around part of the course and I got dropped. Ouch. Oh well, nothing left for it. Dribble the last of my water into my mouth and neck a caffeine gel… wait… that should have been the other way around.

The course was 3 small loops and 2 big loops, in a rather confusing order. The ground was pretty firm with sections of 50-100m of slop to get through and there wasn’t any big hills, wasn’t much flat stuff either in fairness. I’d have preferred it hillier.

2.44pm, standing in the Cumbria start  gate with 8 team mates ahead of me. “Right, don’t go out to fast…” Jeez Louise! I ran a 5.30 something first mile and was 20 yards from the back! I grafted my way around the remaining 6.5 miles and finished in 53 minutes, placed 269th out of 284 runners, wasn’t the last Cumbrian to finish (one of my goals) and was fairly chuffed with my time. Andy Vernon won, he’s a double Olympian, 2 x European Championships medallist and has competed at the World Cross Country Championships 6 times. Fair company. Some guy who pooed himself came 2nd, he’ll be hoping no one remembers 2nd place! They won’t remember 269th either, but I will.
And that’s that. I’ve got a Cumbria vest for my wall.

Race attire.
That’s me far right.