Report from OAC’s indefatigable legend, Sarah Fuller:
“Why are you doing this? You’re rubbish, look how many people have overtaken you in the last three miles”, the negative demons started nagging me before the foot of the final climb – the long slog up Skiddaw via Carlside.
I had nothing left for this climb, legs were empty and I was moving so slowly I could have grown roots, perhaps more significantly my mental focus had gone.
I had a little cry.
I’d spent most of the day moving strongly, climbing steadily and generally passing more people than passed me.
I was told I was fourth lady the majority of the day and ten hours in, I caught the third lady – things were going well, too well.
The Clif Bar 10 Peaks ultramarathon is now four years old and in 2010 no one completed the event inside the 24 hour cut off.
Apart from five compulsory checkpoints (and the peaks!) the route is up to you. This appealed to me. Starting with Helvellyn from Thirlmere at 4am the race heads for Bowfell via a long slog over High Raise and then into the Scafell group where peaks are ticked off quickly.
Getting from Scafell Pike to Scafell is challenging and time consuming – I chose the Lords Rake route which was certainly exciting! Once on Scafell you could drop into Wasdale and up Pillar via Wind Gap or back down the Rake and take the corridor route to Sty Head and do Great Gable before Pillar. I chose the latter although I regretted it as the out and back to Pillar was mentally hard (though didn’t fancy the extra height gain on the Wasdale option either!).
After Pillar I re-traced my steps and headed for Honister – thirteen hours and nine peaks done – happy with that! Some hot food and a change of socks and I was off again – this is where it all went pear shaped! I chose the lower level route to Keswick via Castle Crags and Grange but took a wrong turn, I was tired and just not paying attention! Everyone who was just behind me got to Keswick much quicker by taking the higher route over Dale Head tarn. My mistake sent my head into a tail spin and I couldn’t get my mojo back.
I laboriously slogged into Keswick and climbed Skiddaw in a sulk where I was passed by more people but just couldn’t muster any speed in my legs. There was a full blown hoolie on the top and I kept getting blown over in the fading light. The final descent was a death march and I walked and shuffled off the hill, nursing battered feet, sore knees and cramping quads. Joined by two marines who were suffering equally we were a miserable sight crossing the finish line 19 hours, 50 minutes after starting. 75km and ~19,000 feet of ascent (mostly on the rough unrelenting terrain of the central fells) makes this a tough cookie for the distance.
Before I started I said if I got under 20 hours I would be delighted but I couldn’t shake the demons and was consumed by the “what ifs?”. About 160 started the event – some changed to the short course where the two routes diverged at Scafell Pike and a good number DNF’d or missed the cut-offs. I came home 47th and seventh lady in the end.
On reflection and in the light of day I am delighted and can laugh at my state of mind going up Skiddaw! 72 finished so a much higher % than the first event!! A grand day out indeed… bring on the Lakeland 100!