On a day when “debilitating” would be to understate the heat, 90 pairs assembled in Great Langdale for the Old County Tops fell race organised by Achille Ratti Climbing Club (details and results here). Run in pairs over 37 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing it is arduous in any conditions and last Saturday was particularly difficult.
Even before the 08:00 it was clear it was going to be hot, too hot for this sort of race and the one word heard over and over again amongst the competitors was “survival”. We were never going to threaten the prize giving or the course records – Albert wanted a long slow day out and knowing I can do slow, quite comfortably, he invited me to accompany him over Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Coniston Old Man. Despite the distance, this race usually starts as though it is a 10K with a sprint along the valley to the first climb but this morning even the sprint was subdued as runners tried to take it easy.
Over Helvellyn and into Wythburn for the climb to Greenup Edge on the way to Scafell Pike looked like the least pleasant part of the route today as it is a long climb in a sheltered valley under a hot sun. Taking it steady and drinking at every opportunity we made good progress and enjoyed the gentle breeze traversing under High Raise.
At the start of the approach to Angle Tarn check point I realised Albert had been very quiet for a very long time. He was fighting a loosing battle with a migraine and our only realistic option was to retire at Angle Tarn. I suspect I got off really rather lightly, about one third of the field didn’t finish. Other runner’s tales can be found on the FRA Forum.
After a sitting in the sunshine for a while and seeing Paul and Geraldine on their way we headed back, rather slowly, to Great Langdale to register the end of our Old County Tops 2010 adventure – no tee shirt this year. Although we didn’t know how many had already dropped out it soon became obvious it was plenty as runners just keep appearing from all directions, all heading directly to the finish.
All that and we managed to miss Pauline & John who had run up to cheer us on (we had retired and left Angle Tarn before they arrived) and we also missed Colin who carried food and water up for us for much later on the route. There is always next year and this wouldn’t be complete without a huge thanks to the organisers and marshals who make it all possible – thanks to everyone involved from Achille Ratti