With Lakes Sky Ultra on the 12th September followed by Something Wild Festival the week after it’s been a busy but amazing few weeks with a lot of running!
Race reports by ViewRanger's Adventure Racing Ambassador, Hetty Key.
For those of you who don’t know what Lakes Sky Ultra is – it’s a fell running race in the Lake District. However it’s by no means an ordinary race… take 50km+ of breathtaking ridges, technical descents, 4300m of vertical grind, grade III scrambles, knife edge arêtes and combine that with a big dollop of exposure and you’re about there! To date it has to be one of the toughest things mentally and physically I have ever done.
The morning of the race came around much faster than I expected, and alongside it the predicted bad weather. The rain was coming down in stair rods with 50mph winds – great! Full waterproofs on we headed to the start, to our amazement we were told the great news we would be racing the whole course but ‘on the fell’ decisions would be made by the safety team as to whether to keep in the more exposed sections as the lead runners approached them. Everyone was psyched for the full course so this was the perfect solution.
Standing at the start line felt epic! Slight dread, adrenaline, excitement, fear – it all went through me. What if I was too slow? Was I ready? Could I do this? Before I had an answer to any of these questions we were off!
The first half was really tough however the somewhat biblical weather seemed to provide a distraction from the enormity of the task that lay ahead. Struggling to stay on my feet with the strength of some of the gusts and trying my best to keep sight of the orange flags marking the route in the clagg certainly gave me a lot to think about. Everything was just so slippy!
Despite the conditions the scrambles over Swirral and Striding Edge came quickly and were so much fun. I was really happy to see they had been left in and ticking both of these off definitely boosted my confidence back up. It was also at this point in the race the safety team made the call to remove the scramble over Pinnacle Ridge – sad as this was, I think other runners would agree with me, it was 100% the right decision given the conditions and certainly didn’t make the race any less challenging.
I had been moving slightly slower due to the conditions, this meant making the checkpoint at Patterdale was going to be a real push. My only thought was – I was making that cut off and if not, I was certainly going to give it my all trying. Luckily I made it to Patterdale just 5 minutes before the checkpoint closed!
The start of the second half fluctuated between feeling really determined and strong and the total opposite, Race Director Andrew Burton had warned me at Patterdale, I needed to really push on to make the next check point at Kirkstone. The highlight of the race for me was coming over Stony Cove Pike to see the next check point and aid station and realising it was achievable to get there in time - it was one of the best feeling of the day. From here things only got better. The end in sight I reached the top of Red Scree as the light was fading. Still tight on time (cut off for the finish was 9pm) there was no leeway for getting lost in the dark! Luckily all went smoothly and I crossed the finishing line in 13hrs and 45 mins - I like to think I was getting the most out of the day possible! All in all an amazing event, and even despite the tough moments I loved every minute and am really proud to say I finished.
Only just catching my breath, a week later I was on the road again heading down to Wild Running’s Something Wild Festival – a fun and family orientated event with a whole range of races and activities. I was down to run the half marathon - every part of me was tempted by the full marathon as it looked like a great course, however something told me that my legs might still be a little tired after last Saturday!
In contrast to the weekend before, the weather had also made a complete turn around and we were lucky enough to be racing in glorious sunshine. Uphill to start, we set off running up towards Puper’s Hill and Snowdon (yes really! I never knew there were two). I settled into a good but slightly slow pace, the legs were sore and a bit stiff but seemed to be holding up for the meanwhile. The large amounts of rain had saturated the ground making the route particularly muddy – this was great fun! Plus scenery wise this route really did just have everything – open moorland, rocky crags, wooded paths and more, it was stunning. I even had a brief encounter with a few wild animals, including a tiny pig and Dartmoor pony!
Having downloaded the tiles and route onto my ViewRanger app before I came down proved to be a great advantage. Whilst well marked there were a few areas of the course where I could have got a bit confused without it, and it was so good just to be able to double check where I was going and keep an eye on my timings. It also meant I could relax and enjoy the race, not having to worry overly about navigation. Before I knew it I was crossing the finish line - I was surprised and delighted to see I had come 1st place female in my race! This felt amazing and really was the perfect way to end the summer.
Now I think it might be time for a bit of a lie down… or some mountain biking!!
Read my full race reports for both events on my website www.mudchalkandgears.com
Official photos from Lakes Sky Ultra by Ian Corless.
View the Something Wild gallery here.