Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Tour de Helvellyn - 20/12/2014

Coming into Side Farm on the way back...
Back to the Tour for a third time. This year I was just aiming to jog/walk round, test a couple of pieces of kit for the Spine race, and enjoy a long day out with Zoe.

It all went broadly according to plan although I think I must have picked up a bit of a virus or something. I'd had a sore throat on Friday and just felt a bit flat all day on Saturday.

For those not in the know, the Tour is a friendly low key event which features a surprising amount of fairly easy running in its 36 to 39 miles (estimates vary, but the normal route is about 36.5 miles and this years' altered route was a bit over 38.5). The course is a lollipop shaped route, with an out-and-back section between the start/finish at Askham and Patterdale, and an anticlockwise loop around Helvellyn which goes out over Sticks Pass, then along Thirlmere, and comes back from Dunmail Raise via Grisedale Tarn and valley. This year the normal route along the east shore of Thirlmere was impassible due to recent forestry works, so the route was amended to follow the very quiet road on the west shore.

Anyway it all went well for me until we reached Legburthwaite at the foot of Thirlmere. Huw and Glen Davies overtook us on the descent of Sticks Pass. I somehow cut my finger slightly in the checkpoint - I couldn't believe the amount of blood this generated, but it was easily patched up. We saw Dick Scroop on the way around the lake. I was struggling to run on the road - I think I just haven't done that much actual running and maybe the new Mizuno Wave Mujin shoes have a little more drop than I'm used to so were causing a bit of trouble, but Zoe is great at keeping going on the easier ground and got me through it.

I felt a bit more lively on the climb to Grisedale Tarn although I was still lagging behind a little, but the descent is fairly steep and quite technical and I managed to get it reasonably together and keep it that way from there on in.

We stopped for a few minutes at the Side Farm control and I sat and had a cuppa (bring your own milk for Joe's events!) and a bit of flapjack before we tackled the Boredale Hause climb and the long run / walk back to Askham. The final section of the event crosses an area known as the Cockpit which is notorious for confusing tired runners and adding bonus miles at the end of the day. I got it spot on in the darkness this time - take careful note of landmarks on the way out, but coming home it's sharp right at the standing stones, aiming well right of the woodland  initially, then follow the path as it comes around to the left and faces the woodland, cross a very distinct grassy crosss path still heading for the end of the wood, then turn right ten yards after the boulder just to the right of the path!

Plus points:

  • coped well with nearly a full Spine load and was able to move much faster than I'll need to on the Spine;
  • virtually no shoulder / upper back pain this trip - a result of switching to an Aarn Marathon Magic pack;
  • Wave Mujins were great with a thin Coolmax liner and thick Smartwool hiking socks - no blisters, but loads of room for swollen feet and much more grip than I had expected;
  • Clothing was spot on for the day - fairly mild but windy with the odd squall of rain - Salomon long sleeved wicking base layer, RAB powerstretch top and Haglofs windproof on top, and just a midweight pair of Ron Hill 3/4 length leggings. Regulated heat well venting with zips and warming with buff and thin wind gloves.
Things to work on:
  • probably didn't drink enough;
  • should have eaten a bit more too, but when moving slower on the Spine this should be ok;
  • a bit of chafing off the velcro fastenings at the bottoms of the front pockets on the Aarn pack.
All in all a fun and useful day out. Huge thanks to Joe and his team - Lindsay, Darren, Stuart, John and those I didn't recognise too... Pics from http://www.nav4.co.uk

What the hell is that in your hand Zoe? Who do you think you are?
At the start...
Santa's little helper at the Swart Back bridge on the Sticks Climb
Dibbing at Swart Beck - almost sunny - a TdeH first!
Santa (John Bamber) and his elf (Stu Smith) - thanks for the pics guys. Lovely
to see John on the way up to Grisedale Tarn - Zoe thought the beard was part of
a Santa outfit!
Back at the shack. We ran in the last three miles fairly hard hence the pose!

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