There were a bundle of Striders running in the Derwentwater Challenge and I jogged towards the Start area a few minutes before 1pm in the hope of grabbing a chat and a few photos. Unfortunately, the organisers had decided to start the challenge a few more minutes before 1pm than I had anticipated and all I saw were the receding backs of the runners as they headed up and away. So away I wandered lonely as a cloud for a while returning nearer to 2pm for the trail race. Anticipating that they might start this one early too I made sure I was lounging in the starting area in good time. Sure enough with the little hand not yet on 2 we were sent on our way.
I was curious how it’d feel doing this after the Grisedale Horseshoe the day before. Interesting. Very much like the second running phase of a duathlon just when you’ve hopped of the bike. Not unpleasant. Actually, yes, really quite unpleasant now I come to think about it. But I’d paid my (substantial) entry fee and made my choice. It’s really a rather nice course and fiendish in a mischievous sort of way. I like the way it snakes up one side of the valley, hops over, then carries on up the other side. The terrain was much squashier than I expected but I was wearing some lovely new Salomon trail running shoes that I’d bought from that nice Mr Fisher earlier in the morning.
Towards the end of the race I was beginning to loosen up a bit and started making a few gains on the fast descent to the finish. I had to explain to the lass in front that if she hung around gassing to her mates she’d lose her place in the funnel and I’d get her time and she’d get mine. No tea, juice or sandwiches for the finishers (you’d have to do a fell race at a quarter of the price if you want that) but a cup of water and a grubby bit of Kendal mint cake. No sign of any Striders but a browse of the results showed good fast runs by everyone who did the Challenge.
Heading over the A66 on Sunday morning the weather looked promising. Stef and I had entered the Trail Race – which has the same route as the Challenge but without prizes and starts an hour earlier. With Debs, Denise and Jane doing the Challenge we decided to switch races; a civilised race start of 1pm meant that we could head off to find a coffee shop – sustained by liberal helpings of Debs’ delicious flapjack.
The race starts and finishes in Fitz Park, where we bumped in Barrie. For the cost of the race you get a well-organised check-in, baggage tent, technical t-shirt which you can collect before the race, markers and marshals throughout the course, and a PA system to encourage you at the finish. But the most impressive part is the route – setting off along the disused railway line out of Keswick, there are 8km of trails and boggy footpaths climbing up the valley by Glenderaterra Beck, then looping back following the Cumbrian Way, 6km along the contours of Lonscale Fell and a fast descent into Keswick.
The glorious weather made this a superb run, and it was great to see that the event’s organisation and support (and Kendal Mint Cake) encourages a good mix of runners to get involved. For five ladies and Barrie – a great day out and enjoyable runs had by all.