Saturday 31st May 2014

By Penny Hill

Phil and I love the Lakes! Some friends had run a few of the Lakeland Trails and it was on my list to enter a couple this year.  Prior to this we had completed a Hardmoor 10k in Goathland (this means 15k in Hardmoor speak!) in November 2013, my first trail race and I loved it!! Since then a Yorkshire Vets run in Pudsey and the Hot Cross Bun Country Trails run and I was addicted. There is something about trail running.  Mainly I think it is running in beautiful countryside but somehow it also feels less pressured. This may be because I haven’t   many under my belt, am inexperienced and I know I can’t use a road 10k as a guide, but there is something about just enjoying the run!

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Travelled to Staveley on the Saturday morning and this is certainly manageable in approximately 2 hours. The weather was perfect, slightly cool which suits me.  Arrived in plenty of time to register and quickly spotted Jan and Ian Rayner (who curiously had a large sword poking out of his rucksack and rumour had it that he was to be dressed as a gladiator!). Jan and Ian are Lakeland Trail regulars so quick race briefing  and attempts to get Ian to reveal complete outfit (failed) before we made our way to the start.

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Organisation was excellent including prior to the actual event. Three races: a 10k, a 17k challenge (Jan Rayner and Eileen Mitchell) and a 17k race (Jordan Mitchell) provided a challenge for all ages and abilities. Great marshals and a water station or two provided fluids and jelly babies!  Family friendly, carnival atmosphere with live music and an excellent race commentary contributed to a fantastic event.  Batala Lancaster drumming band certainly got the adrenalin pumping as we waited to start. Valley Striders ladies tour introduced themselves as did several other club runners. It really felt like everyone was there to have a fun time and enjoy the day.

The run itself was fantastic. Tough though.  Really tried to run the entire route but at times this was difficult, either because of steepness or the tricky terrain. Of course, the more seasoned trail runners negotiate all of this expertly, literally throwing themselves down the hills! Long pull out of Staveley on a road that turns into a track, brief respite over the hills and a number of stiles, a stretch of downhill scree into the valley and then another long steep hill.  At this point though, I was looking out for a gladiator on top of a mountain accompanied by a band who had climbed to the top with their kit. Once I spotted them, I knew that the sting in the tail was in sight! It was great to see Ian at the top, in full costume and although this was the 9.9 k point I knew it was downhill to the village and I put on a bit of a spurt. I am sure the hog roast and fab purple t shirt at the end had something to do with this!

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I have no idea of my time but this doesn’t feel relevant (although next time it probably will!). It felt a real achievement and I loved it. I had booked the Lakelands Trail Ullswater run in November, 2014 but did not felt brave enough for the “Dirty Double” (Helvellyn on Saturday and Ullswater on Sunday) Think I might upgrade….

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