Ultratrail26 Grizedale, Grizedale Forest, The Lake District, Sunday, November 18, 2012

27.5 miles

Dave Robson

This was a new race organised by the same people who organise the Lakeland 50 and 100.

I have had a cough about ten days ago which has been hard to shake off and I knew it would affect this race. I found myself more breathless than usual and hills which wouldn’t normally be too difficult felt much harder. There were also lots of hills on this race!

The route was basically a figure of eight with the start, finish and the only checkpoint at the centre of the eight. The organisers had provided a GPX route which I had downloaded to my Garmin and my GPS. There was a map provided and a road book (written instructions) and the course was very well signed, so there was little chance of getting lost.

The first 12m was in the western part of Grizedale Forest and it was almost all on forest road some which I had covered in the Lakeland Trails marathon (but in the opposite direction). It was more hilly than I expected, but it didn’t feel too bad and we made it back to the checkpoint/start/finish in about 2hr 15min. All good so far.

As we left the checkpoint a marshall said ‘that is the easy part over, the next bit is harder’. I often take what a marshall says with a pinch of salt – we have probably all heard ‘It’s all downhill now …’ when there are still hills to come. But this one was definitely right!

Dave and Mel hove into view ... It started with a climb up a rocky path and then the route started to climb north on the eastern side of the forest. The forest roads changed to a forest path and it started to rain. There were some substantial puddles which meant it was pointless trying to keep our feet dry. We made our way down a steep path to Esthwaite Water and then onto a section of the Windermere marathon course. Then it was on up to Near Sawrey and onto the hills to the east and on to a section of the Lakeland Trails Hawkshead route (but in reverse). Past the beautiful Moss Eccles Tarn, through a tricky path down to the start of the Coffin Trail. Going up the Coffin Trail is tough, going down when it is wet and the slippy rocks are covered in leaves is very tricky. We made it and enjoyed the section alongside Lake Windermere. Then up the hill we normally run down at Hawkshead and then down to Far Sawrey. I was expecting just one more climb back into the forest, but no, there was three more climbs, mainly on rocky muddy paths. Finally we climbed up into the forest again and there was a tough section south and then north again (with plenty of undulations).

By now it was dark and our head torches came out as we started the final rocky steep descent.

We finished in 6hr 28min 21sec. It was 27.5m in total. The second 15.5m loop took us 4hrs, the second loop was so much harder than the first one. I had underestimated how tough this race would be (I had thought we might finish in about five an half hours).

Melanie did great. This was her first marathon since her last operation and her longest run since then has been 13m, but she just kept going! She also put up with my grumpy phase at the 20m point! It was her fourth marathon this year and my sixteenth and that’s it for 2012, everything else will now be shorter distances.

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