Wednesday, April 12, 2017

DNF - Doubts; Nearly; Future - not Failure (Lakes Mountain 42)

The Lakes Mountain 42 has been in the back of my mind for the past 4 months since booking on and making sure that my training had been increased for the climbing. Having had a few shin niggles for a few weeks and writing this introduction before I set off to the Lakes, I'm not sure what really lies ahead, in how I would be able to handle the hills and if my knees and shin would hold out.

They were fine, I just hadn't figured on the hottest day so far for the year and after putting my left leg in a bog full of cold water near Grisedale Tarn which shocked my leg into cramp! That started the downward trend of the day.

The climb from the start at 6am which was a hushed affair and without a sound or warning it must have just turned 6am and we were off. The sky was getting lighter and the air was cold with frost underfoot once we got onto the hills. What a way to start the day! I felt good and tried to keep a steady pace on the ups without pushing, my new trainers Inov-8 Trail Talons 275's were feeling excellent as this was the first long run in them - no complaints at all about them, they seemed perfect on the mixed terrain, fell, hard packed trails and even short road sections, with enough cushioning to not even notice.

It all started so well: the 6am start and frost underfoot combined with the sun rising behind us, it was a fantastic climb up Loadpot Hill and on to High Street. I even managed my own commando roll as I tripped on a stone and in slow motion thought I had better just go with this and rolled over onto my pack and back up onto my feet, expertly done. I have a few aches from that now!


In around 21st place at High Street after about 2hrs and feeling good, I thought fuel, drink, recover and enjoy the run down to Patterdale arriving spot on 3hrs and 15miles done. I checked into the CP and grabbed some food and a customary banana and kept going to catch up with a few just ahead to take the climb up to Grisedale Tarn together as much as possible.

With both thigh muscles cramping up badly towards the top of Helvellyn I knew my day was over as I sat on the side of the mountain with still in the region of 17 miles to go unable to get up onto my feet.  I am doubting myself now as to whether I should have just waited it out and carried on. Well that moment and day has passed and I have to move on and deal with the disappointment:

  • Was it my lack of 'fell' experience on the climbs and descents! The contouring from Grisedale Tarn (shortcut!) was a hard steep descent. I had been putting in training weeks of 12,000- 13,000ft climbing and descending! More off track descending needed. I'm determined to make a difference and come back stronger.
  • Just plain lack of hydration! - as it had started off cool and I wasn't feeling hot
  • Didn't fuel well enough! - must add better salty foods into plan.
  • Did I go off too quick and pay the price later? No idea.

After missing the CP6 turn off, I had gone a bit further than I should have, and had to double back - so much for that shortcut.


What a place to DNF - I was gutted, I turned my Garmin off and it didn't even save my run. I had to borrow some sticks and hobble back down to the CP6, just taking in the views and trying to encourage passing runners who were still going up and onwards. I will return.

Joe's email to participants is some encouragement  - referring to SMJ 'Sound Mountain Judgement' by those that had to retire from the race. I'll have to take the 'Nearly' to 'Next' and focus ahead rather than just look backwards.


I've spent a few days trying to figure out in my own head what went wrong... I went out the next day and to make sure my head was still in the game and did a good run of 6.6 miles and 1250ft of climbing... I just picked the steepest hills nearby and went up and down. Thinking of the future rather than what can be seen as failure.

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