The Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge is open to veteran fell runners and challenges them to complete a 48 mile route with almost 17,000 feet of climbing starting in Pooley Bridge and finishing at Greendale Bridge, Wasdale. The detailed route isn’t specified but the summits to be visited are specified as is the time allowed. On Sunday, as a newly minted 60 year old I would be allowed a relatively leisurely 18 hours. The route travels south over High Raise and High Street to Kirkstone Pass and from there generally west over High Raise to Bowfell and Sty Head before starting a loop above Wasdale Head to Greendale at the other end of the valley.
I was well rested by Sunday morning but concerned that I might be under-prepared having spent less time in the Cumbrian Fells than I would have like because of the lingering snow – this fear was fuelled by two less than impressive long races, Ennerdale Horseshoe on a hot day and the Old County Tops on a cold wet day. I had a sub-17 schedule and decided on Friday to include the splits for a 17:50 completion on the pacer’s schedules so that if things didn’t go to plan I would, at least, know how much of a cushion I had. In the event I needn’t have worried, after some serious warnings about going too fast at the start I was able to stay ahead of my schedule and finished in just under 16 hours.
Days out on the fells like this aren’t really about the route, the weather (it helped) or the time taken – they are about the people you spend the day with, the people who make it enjoyable, the people who make it all possible.
Richard would run the second leg with me but first of all he came to Pooley Bridge to see us off. Leigh ran the first leg from Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass – issued warnings about my too fast pace and found all the summits for me as well as the routes in between.
At Dunmail Pass – the end of the second leg where Richard has just finished as has Karl who ran from Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass and on to Dunmail. Carl helped on my first JNLC in 2009 and today was Karl’s birthday too. Keith and Pauline provided faultless road support throughout the day.
Rhiannon too helped on my 2009 crossing and her photographs of that day encouraged me to take another look at digital photography.
Joss came up to Sty Head to see us and then to various points on the last leg to see me through before dropping down to make sure he was at Greendale Bridge to see me finish.
Monica was the original co-coordinator for the challenge and she and her husband (Colin) came up to Sty Head to say hello, wish me well and safe speedy journey on to Greendale.
David, Pauline, Joss, self, Tony, Josie, Bill, Albert and Keith (kneeling)
Keith and Pauline were able to come round the last leg as well doing road support all day; Bill navigated as he did for me in 2009; Tony, Josie, Albert and I train together; David came out to meet us and see us safely over the last summit and down to Greendale – I had a fabulous day on the fells and I didn’t want it to finish although my legs did.
You all helped to give me a completely unforgettable 60th Birthday and I am struggling to find the words capable of expressing the gratitude I feel so, “thank you” will have to suffice, however inadequate it is – thank you all!