Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Lake District Mountain Trial 2009

To quote from the event’s Website -

The Trial is an annual event held at different venues in the Lake District in mid-September. It is considered to be one of the major events in the fell-runner's calendar. The Men's and Women's courses will be severe tests of route choice, navigational skill and stamina in difficult mountain country. The men's route will cover a maximum of 20 miles and the ascent and descent of about 8000 ft. The women's route will be shorter (about two-thirds of the men's distance). Owing to the severity of these courses, applicants are vetted for fell-running experience and there is a minimum age of 21. The Short Trial caters principally for novices over 18 years old and veterans over 50. The course is about 10 miles in length with about 3500 ft of ascent and descent.

Sunday was my second Trial and having taken about seven  hours in 2007 I was hoping to be able to improve, mainly by making ‘less naive’ route choices. At the first check point I overheard another runner discussing his ‘plan for the day’ with one of the marshals - “today isn’t about times, it is about survival” - and that was before it was really warm and while water was still plentiful. Two hours later at check point 4 with the first difficult route choice looming I was beginning to realise the wisdom of the overheard plan. Deciding to minimise climbing rather than seeking the most runnable routes would mean slower progress and more difficult ground to traverse but it had an additional advantage of staying high in cooler air away from the stifling heat in the valleys – it did, however, mean a fairly long stretch without water. By check point 5, some 7 and a bit miles later, I thought I was still eating and drinking enough but as soon as I dropped down to Seathwaite Tarn and out of the slight, but cooling, breeze the last of my water disappeared very quickly. Progress slowed and check point cut off times started to threaten. From check point 6 to 7 was a fairly desperate race against the clock and dehydration. At Seathwaite Tarn I had been caught be another few runners and we stayed as a group of four until approaching check point 7 when two of us were dropped. From check point 7 though 8 to end the route was all downhill and I managed, only just, to hang on to the other runner (No 194, I think) until we reached a very welcome stream. Refreshed and rehydrated, we walked and jogged to the end together – a very big thank you, Mark. I finished in 80th place in 8:18:25, 10th Vet 50 of 20, which is a slightly better age group place than in 2007 but slightly worse overall. I estimate my route to have been around 27 miles with over 9000 feet of climbing which makes it a  pretty hard day out.

Full Results and much more at

I intended to take photographs all the way round the the route but the rough ground around Bowfell and the Crinkles meant I wasn’t moving quickly anyway and I needed to just keep moving and towards the end the cut off times were too threatening. Most of those below were taken on the first half of the route – between Eskdale and Allen Crags.

Eel Tarn Eel Tarn with Slightside & Scafell beyond


Check Point 1 Check Point One – a “water station”

Burnmoor Tarn

Burnmoor Tarn

looking over Wasdale

Clouds above Wasdale Head




First look down into Wasdale

Wasdale Head

High Fells at Wasdale Head

on Allen Crags

Traversing below Allen Crags with Great Gable in the distance

Langdale Pikes

Towards the Langdale Pikes

the Scafells

Sca Fell and Scafell Pike

Upper Eskdale

Down into Upper Eskdale and the other side of Slightside


Little Langdale

Little Langdale


Seathwaite Tarn

Seathwaite Tarn


  1. You're welcome! Thanks for your company over that last stretch - made it far more bearable! Been follwing your blogs for some time, but didn't realise you were you, if you know what i mean!

    Mark Smith

  2. Ian what camera do you use? Your pictures always seems to capture the colour really well.

    And of course, Well Done!!

  3. well done Ian! It was a warm day out indeed and the pictures are as ever encaptulating.

  4. Started off using Canon Powershot G7 (which is now for sale) and then upgraded to G10 to get megapixels and a slightly wider lens. I also use Adobe Lightroom for final processing

  5. i'm so impressed that you can take such good shots as well as running in such a tough event! nice one :)

  6. Nice post - lake district pictures ..Keep Posting

    lake district pictures