Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Gordon’s Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge – 29 Aug

Gordon Johnson (more affectionately, GJ) set off from Pooley Bridge at midnight on Saturday with 48 miles and 16,800 feet of climbing and descending to reach Greendale Bridge within 24 hours to complete the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge. The “Joss” is an age handicap challenge for vets over 50 and although GJ is allowed 24 hours he is running against a 19 hour schedule. He also has a secret target time to beat but as he didn’t tell us until  much later, I can’t reveal it just yet. Pauline and I travelled north with Yiannis to meet Gordon at Dunmail Raise in time for breakfast.

GJ-JNT-1Pauline holds a brolly to allow GJ to enjoy his porridge out of the rain

Despite poor conditions overnight GJ arrived at Dunmail ahead of his 19 hour schedule in good spirits and ready for breakfast. Yiannis and I are to run with GJ all the way to Greendale Bridge, about 11.5 hours according to the schedule and we are all hoping the forecast delivers the bright sunny calm afternoon it is promising. A couple of hours later passing the head of Great Langdale the weather is much improved and a sunny afternoon, once very unlikely now seems very possible.

GJ-JNT-2 Great Langdale from Bowfell

GJ-JNT-3 Time to eat again – Yiannis gets ready with the rice pudding

GJ-JNT-4 Scafell and Sca Fell Pike from Bowfell

GJ-JNT-5 Yiannis leading the way to Great End

Despite the sunshine we still wear waterproofs to keep out the cold wind. All along the ridge from Bowfell to Great End and down to Sty Head GJ is picking up time on his schedule and staying strong for the final and most demanding leg from Sty Head.

GJ-JNT-6 North to Keswick beyond Derwent Water and below Skiddaw

GJ-JNT-7 Beyond Sty Head lies Great Gable and the start of the final leg

We reach Sty Head about 30 minutes ahead of schedule and before the support team who should meet us there with more food, hot drinks and another runner or two. Yiannis and I have enough food to feed all three of us and so we carry on into the last leg, hoping the support team will be waiting at one of the passes further down the route.

GJ-JNT-8 Unfazed by the missing support team GJ climbs Great Gable comfortably enough to stop for a picture

Descending Kirk Fell, Kevin catches us up and explains the Bank Holiday traffic delayed the support team’s arrival in Wasdale but the rest of them (Ian Roberts & Pauline) are waiting on Black Sail Pass.

GJ-JNT-9 Self, Kevin, GJ and Yiannis climbing Pillar

Pauline and Ian came over Pillar with us before dropping back down into Wasdale ready to meet us at the end while Kevin came over all the remaining summits.

GJ-JNT-11 Yewbarrow and Wasdale Head

GJ-JNT-10 Yewbarrow above Mosedale with Wastwater beyond

GJ-JNT-100The last three summits – from the right; Haycock, Seatallan and Middle Fell 


GJ-JNT-101Now joined by Steve Cliff (with the yellow sleeve, who started at Pooley Bridge with GJ) we race down to Middle Fell

Gordon doesn’t wear a watch and insisted all day that he didn’t want to know how well, or badly, he was doing against his schedule until we reached Haycock. There he revealed his secret objective – a sub 18:28 time to beat his running partner Spike’s 2009 time. He also insisted that he still didn’t want to know his time until we reached Middle Fell, the final summit.

GJ-JNT-12 Gordon touches Middle Fell summit – the final one

Approaching Middle Fell David Powell-Thompson meets us, as is traditional, to ensure we don’t go wrong on the final descent. By now Gordon knows his sub 18:28 target will be met easily and if we get a bit of a move on a sub 18:00 is possible – so we get a bit of a move on and reach Greendale Bridge in 17:42, much to GJ’s delight.

GJ-JNT-13 Joss Naylor, Gordon Johnson and Yiannis Tridimas at the end of Gordon’s “Joss”


  1. what a truely good day out it was.... so GJ whats next - to keep us amused and out of trouble, you understand...

  2. true time was 17:42 .... i started the watch at PB 3 mins early ... what a hero

    Steve C

  3. Steve C - Thanks. Have corrected GJ's time to 17:42.

  4. well done GJ! looks like a stunning day out in the lakes-if a little breezy. i bet the delayed support were having more of a stress than you guys on the hill!

  5. Another Grand Day Out as Wallace would say!

    You can judge a man by his friends and what good company you keep!

  6. Always is more fun on the hill [-: Hardest job is road support, easily.