Report from Tom Lynch:
I’m ticking off the Lakeland Classics this year, or some of them at least, and Duddon is first on the list. This is one of the younger ‘classic’ races (counted as Duddon, Ennerdale, Wasdale, Borrowdale, Three Shires and Langdale Horseshoe) and starts from the Newfield Inn in the Duddon valley. It starts by going up Harter fell, then loops clockwise via Hardknott, Little Stand (a incredibly steep long climb), Three Shires stone, Swirl How, Dow Crag, White Pike and finally Caw, before descending back to the pub. Being held in June this is often a scorcher of a race, well know for the difficulty in finding water along the course, however this year it was a complete pea souper, with a fairly thick blanket of fog from the outset. As you would expect this created some very interesting route choices, and with only a small field of 100 or so, it was not a case of simply following the leader, and compasses and maps were out (in most cases) as soon as Harter Fell was reached.
For my part I had recced from Hardknott to Dow Crag the week before, so after a little trouble getting to Harknott from Harter I managed to make steady but cautious progress round the route to Dow Crag using bearings or the obvious paths. This was not the case for at least 3 others I spoke to, some who ended up in Eskdale or just completing loops before abandoning and running back from Little Stand! Once I reached Dow Crag it was navigation in earnest again, and I was pretty much blindly following my compass bearings off the map, fortunately I hit White Pike no problem. Getting to Caw was probably the slowest part for me, and i managed to pick up a disorientated runner who was going to declare DNF along the way too. After more cautious bearing work I made it to Caw, slightly surprising the marshals with my direction of approach. From there fortunately it was a descent straight north to a flagged section, and the relief of dropping out the fog to see the pub. Fingers crossed for better weather for Wasdale in July!
The winner was Nicholas Barber (Pennine) in 3:11:42, and first woman was Hollie Orr (Black Combe) in 3:53:44, I was the only Otley representative on the day and came in 38th in a time of 4:34:04.