From Stuart Mugridge: Continuing the recent fashion for BvH fell race reports, here is my offering from last weekend’s Turner Landscape fell race.
After a return trip to the Howtown fell race (results HERE) earlier in the summer I arranged a family camping holiday based on the Turner Landscape fell race in the Lake District’s Duddon Valley. This AM course is about 17k long with a bit under 1000m of ascent (taking in a good selection of the Coniston Fells). The event is based at Turner Hall Farm near Seathwaite (an excellent campsite if ever you want one and the farm name-checked in the recent bestseller The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks). The event starts with a curve out through a couple of fields (very boggy after recent heavy rain) and then briefly onto the tarmacked foot of the Walna Scar Road before forking to the left and onto a good track climbing up to Seathwaite Tarn. As we left the start field the cloud was down at about 600m (an improvement on earlier in the morning but still meaning that much of the race might be in the cloud).
It is then across the Tarn’s southern dam. All very runnable so far but then it is on to a small trod for the ascent of Grey Friar. I’m sure this is mostly runnable for the top guys but for me, and all those I saw, this is mostly walking territory. Nearing the top, and starting to run again, we were into patchy cloud and a cool breeze. Downing a gel and some energy drink and on through the first checkpoint at the summit. A slight descent follows and then a gentle climb onto Swirl How for checkpoint 2. With high humidity and the effort of the climbing my glasses were misting up so I found it easier to remove them for the moment. From here the best route contours below the ridge and round onto the climb up the ‘back’ of Coniston Old Man. By now the cloud was beginning to lift and good views were opening up just as the forecast had promised.
Underfoot it remained greasy though and my Salomons were proving rubbish for grip as I knew they would be so I had to take any rocky sections carefully (must invest in some Inov8s soon). Checkpoint 3 was at the summit of Old Man and from there it was a brief retrace of steps before dropping down to Goat’s Hawse. On this descent my right knee decided to start playing up (and shoes continued to lack grip) and the few places I had made up on the ascent I quickly lost as runners whizzed off downwards and into the next climb up to just below the summit of Dow Crag and checkpoint 4.
From here it was my favourite bit of the race, a beautiful contouring run below Buck Pike and Brown Pike across to White Pike. Downhill enough that the running was fairly effortless but not steep enough to annoy my knee and the weather was now turning decidedly summery—there were glorious views down the Duddon Valley. Crossing the top of the Walna Scar Road the route climbed slightly onto Walna Scar and across to White Pike for checkpoint 5. Another slight retrace of steps before a steepish grassy descent and more torment for my knee. To ease the knee I employed a zig-zag line to lessen the angle but inevitably it meant more runners pulling away from me.
The last checkpoint and then it was a messy descent from the old mine workings of the Walna Scar Quarries through bracken, boggy, bouldery and steep fields back to the grass of Turner Hall’s inbyes. I finished in just under 2 hours and ten minutes for 28th place from a field of about 60. The winner’s time was a shade under 1 and a half hours and he was ten minutes ahead of the second place runner. With not much hill-climbing in my training (mostly runs along the W&B Canal) I was really pleased with my result (but frustrated that my knee held me back on the descents).
This is a lovely event and the entry fee (£8) and other money raised goes towards the Alzheimer’s Society. As usual with fell races there was a very good supply of cake on sale. Unfortunately the current race organizer is no longer able to organize the race but hopefully somebody will step into his shoes and it will be back in 2017 as it certainly is a great course.
Full results HERE