Race week dawned and I had serious doubts about running in the SBU35! I'd re started my training to soon after the Montane Lakeland 50 and I'd aggrevated an old hip injury! However after taking part in the inaugral SBU35 in 2013 there was no way I was missing out on such a superbly organised, well ran and sociable Ultra Trail Marathon!
So on the Friday morning I found myself travelling across the A66 to St Bees. The check in point and finish of the run is at the school there.
04:00 on the Saturday and i'm woken up by my alarm clock! The check in time at the school is between 05:00 - 06:00 to allow time for the coaches to pick everybody up and take us up to Dodd Wood near Bassenthwaite for an 08:00 race start time.
Kit check complete and there's time for a coffee in the school refectory with Terry & Richard fellow club mates from Sunderland Strollers and a new aquaintance Elizabeth Beavis. Richard & Elizabeth ended up finishing together at the end of the race!
06:30 and bang on schedule, we are ushered on to the two coaches for our trip up to Dodd Wood where there's time for a toilet stop before everybody walks up into the woods for the pre race briefing at the Osprey view point.
08:00 and right on time the Jon fires the start gun and we are off!
The route from the start to checkpoint one at the Borrowdale Institute loops uphill through Dodd Wood before dropping steeply down to cross the A591 then crossing pastures to Portinscale, alongside Derwent Water, through Grange, before passing underneath Castle Crag to Rossthwaite. (10.7 mile - cut off time 11:30).
It's overcast at the start with a bit of rain in the air which is good as it keeps me cool. I'm joined by Terry and we agree to run at an avg 9-10 min/mile pace. The weather gradually brightens as we pass alongside Derwent water eventually reaching check point one in 1 hr 52 mins.
Bottles refilled flapjack consumed and a swift trip to the loo;) I part company with Terry and head towards checkpoint 2 at Low Gillertwaite Field Centre along side Ennerdale Water. (9 mile cut off time 14:30)
The route heads up out of Rothswaite over pastures and directly in front of the Longthwaite YHA, briefly onto the road coming out of Seatoller at the bottom of Honister Pass then back onto the rough track up Little Garthdale. Just as the serious climbing begins the heavy rain starts. On with my waterproof jacket and ever upwards. The route goes directly through the Honister slate mine and straight up the steep main track before bearing left across the dismantled tramway and up Fleetwith.
Runners crossing Fleetwith.
View down towards Buttermere & Crummock Water.
At this point the route bears right to the top of Loft Beck. The descent down Loft Beck is awful in the wet conditions my Hoka Rap Nui's have me slipping & sliding all the way down into Ennerdale.
Across in front of Black Sail Hut and it's jacket off as the sun is back out. Then time to up the pace, as the 3 mile stretch to Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre is the fastest section of the race. 3 sub 9 min miles later I reach the checkpoint. Total race time 4:03 hrs.
Into the checkpoint one bottle filled with coke the other water for my zero tablet. Pick up a Chia charge bar & some jelly babies i'm on my way in less than 2 minutes. I walk for a few minutes while I eat and get most of the coke down before running again towards checkpoint 3 at Cleator Hall (11 miles - cut off time 18:30).
The route goes most of the way alongside Ennerdale Water before turning going through Ennerdale Bridge. It's at this point that my hip injury really starts to bother me and I'm glad of the two climbs up Scarny Brow and the big one up and over Dent.
The descent down towards Cleator Moor really punishes my hip and I'm glad to see the last checkpoint. Total race time 6:19 hrs. As I enter the checkpoint a familiar voice greets me " where did you spring from" It's my friend Dave Barker from St Bees Triers who I'd had the pleasure of meeting at the race last year. We'd stayed in touch since then via Facebook. A quick refill of one bottle and three cups of coke consumed and I leave the checkpoint with Dave and three others towards the finish 4.3 miles away at St Bees school - cut off time 20:00hrs.
The route at this stage zig zags along cycle paths and over pastures. I'm glad off the company as it helps to take my mind off the pain in my hip! At this stage we are walking most of the inclines. The school finally comes into view a mile away. We can see the banners and the pace quickens, the three of us that are running together agree that there'll be no sprint finish (thank god)! Race time 7:08 hrs joint 14th place. 30 minutes quicker than last year.
The three of us finishing together. I've almost managed a smile!
The fastest male Steve Coates in an amazing time of 5:33.
Fastest Female Judith Quane in an incredible time of 6:13.
Luckily the race is sponsored by Ennerdale breweries and ten yards over the line is the bar.
The pictures have been used with the kind permission of Sarah Farquar from the St Bees Triers & Jon Raymond the organiser and race director.
For more information on the SBU35 go to the Ukan Trail website Ukantrail