Day One St. Bees to Patterdale

The last 24 hours had been entirely focussed on the final preparation, stuffing two drop bags, a finish bag and my rucksack with all I needed for the next week’s journey. There was no mad rush, I’d been planning this for some time, indeed it seemed like the last 4 months since I signed up had been about nothing else.   The recce work had been done, well as much as I could fit in, the map marked properly with the route, and that all important run-through, that visualisation in my head, locked in. I had a plan, now all I had to do was run the plan and deal with what mother nature threw at us.

Driving across country to St. Bees, on the West coast, on the Sunday, the day before the race, was relaxed, the traffic light for the most part. It was the middle of a Bank Holiday weekend, most people were already wherever they intended to be. For me and approximately 59 others our journey was yet to really begin.

Mid-afternoon in a very sunny St. Bees, and holiday makers and racers gathered in and around the Seacroft Hotel and the seafront, enjoying the bright sunshine and a few beers. Ultras especially bigger multi day events, have a peculiar issue and it relates to the expected duration of the race and the spread between the winners and the last home. Where in your average club 10k race it may take the tail enders twice as long to complete the race as the winner, this may only be a difference of 30 mins., an hour at the most. Its therefore not unusual the organisers to wait until everyone’s home before prize giving (stragglers excepted). In a multi-day ultra the 2x rule may, as it did in this case, be 2 whole days between the winner arriving at the finish and the last competitor crossing the line.

The effect of this is that the post race mixing of competitors is minimal often very limited. The same can’t be said of the pre-race where the gathering of competitors organisers is something to be looked forward to.

Today was no exception and a few hours was spent making new friends, some making Facebook friends a physical reality while others renewing old friendships made on the Spine or through my experience with Javed’s Return Run. Tensions diffused, fears shared, plans perhaps held close and a plentiful supply of mutual support. There was enough time set aside in the morning for final kit checks, and registration so as to make the evening a relaxed one. Many of us adjourned to one of the better pubs in St. Bees for a late evening meal.

Preparing for an event like this is, or rather should be, a well defined process and there’s no real excuse to be panicking or faffing the day before let alone the morning of the event. That doesn’t stop some people obviously, that usually incudes me but this time, I’m really sorted. A move of some stuff from a cool box to both drop bags and todays’ food for the rucksack and I’m done. I can check in, hand the bags over, correctly labelled to James’s crew and “relax” before the final briefing.

Folk are bustling about making final preparations, some taking group photos with friends and fellow competitors in front of the big banners. It’s getting quite exciting. The final briefing starts and we’re looking at the Google earth fly-through James has got running on the main screen. We’re told some common sense rules and “suggestions”, the A19 crossing, being respectful of others, sticking to the route that sort of thing. There’s no last minute changes to the route, we’re good to go.

15 mins. later we’re being ushered towards the start line, final pee stops, stragglers cheered in to the photo line-up, Ian Corless pointing the lens.

I can’t remember the start, a countdown 5-4-3-2-1 but was it a hooter? I can’t recall anything except a deep intake of breath and a inner thought to myself, “we’re off, steady away, there’s a long way to go”.

All the banter the previous evening had been around who was setting themselves up for the Lantern Rouge, everybody claiming that was their spot.

Once the race was underway it all became clear and unambiguous, who was in it to win it and who was there to complete. I counted my self in the latter group.

Cloudless blue skies and a stiff offshore breeze made for idyllic views, the race already strung out over the steep climb along the cliff and headland that is St. Bees. The tempo is being to be set for the day, power walk up hill not too fast to avoid the obvious potential to overheat even in this wind, and jog the flat or downhill when it’s easier than walking.

I’d recced this section as far as Dent Hill. Along with the other recces I’d done this just allowed me to focus on forward motion without the need to map read.

The first hour or so is just about getting my head in gear, dropping those worries and niggles, there’s no going back and there’s no more time to do anything about “that or this”, just focus on rhythm and pace and looking forward.

At my end of the race there’s no jostling for a position it’s more of finding one’s own pace and space on the route and while I saw, passed and was passed by other racers I was largely on my own for most of the time. Occasionally the same faces popped into view now and again.

Dent Hill is gone, it’s surprisingly steep on the way down into Ennerdale Bridge, I’m passed again by Peter Sowerby and John Ill. There’s a pleasant café where I stop for a coffee, coke and a bacon roll, to be eaten on the run, and the use of the facilities. Ben Taylor is there demolishing beans on toast, calm and seemingly unflappable in his shorts and sandals.

And then I’m off again, brushing civilisation and the crowds at the tail of Ennerdale Water itself and along the waterside path. It’s hot and sunny and it’s brought the crowds out for a spot of summer.

At the head end of the lake the path crosses over to the northern side of the valley and heads for the Black Sail YH. Weaving in and out of forest cover the views up to Pillar are spectacular in the late afternoon sunshine. Pillar from all other angles is a somewhat shapeless mass, its summit almost featureless, but from this low angle the Pillar itself stands out and is spectacular. It’s the first time I’ve seen it from this direction.

I’d been trying to maintain a pace that would hopefully get me to Honister Café at the slate mine before closing but the heat had taken its toll and I realised now I’d not make it. So a stop at the Black Sail YH was in order before the climb up Loft Beck. The YH has an honesty box and with tea brewed and a quick re-fuel and I’m about ready to go. Steve Hamblett and Andy Laurence appear just as I’m about to leave. We exchange the usual, how’s it going and good luck, they’re both complaining of sore feet, me I’m just knackered. The steep path heads up beside Loft Beck to the path below Brandreth and on to the tramway before the descent to Honister Slate Mine and the now closed café. There’s no point in stopping here, eat on the move and head to the next point of call. Seatoller, is at the bottom of the pass and there’s a YHA and café, a welcome sight and another opportunity to grab something to drink, a short stop and then its on again.

The next and key objective for the day was to crest Greenup Edge before last light. A very short but annoying nav error, not helped by my remembering the route taken on the second day of the GL3D was just that, annoying but I quickly put that to one side. The route goes through Rosthwaite proper crossing over Stonethwaite Beck before heading upwards at a steady pace alongside Greenup Gill and on towards Greenup Edge. I made it just as the last of the sunset disappeared and darkness proper obscured pretty much everything.

Weirdly, for I had not seen either of them catch me up, Andy appeared almost right beside me with Steve just a little way back his head torch struggling to illuminate the gloom. After walking just a little while together Andy stopped to bivvi, his plan had always been to sleep when it was dark and move in the daylight. I pressed on my next objective, Patterdale, just as soon as I could make it.

My key plan for the whole race was to get the long and demanding first day over, get to Patterdale for at least a couple of hours sleep and refuel in time to start the next section with enough time to do that all in daylight, or at least arrive at Kirby Stephen just after dark at the latest. Doing it this way would set me up for the remaining sections in a similar manner. Start the section at or just before first light, get the majority of it done during the light and arrive at the feed station for refuel and a couple of hours sleep.

The route drops down off Greenup Edge heading for Grasmere across what can only be described as continuous bog. In the daylight there is a path of sorts, at night this just disappeared and walking on a bearing most of the time was slow and tiring. As the path becomes more distinct lower down, there was a flash, Jumpy James (James Kirby) had been waiting for all the competitors to come through. Initially I panicked a little, earlier I’d donned waterproofs over the top of everything. With James T’s voice ringing in my ears I stopped to chat with James and re jigged everything so that the event bib was on the outside. A few more quick photos and I’m off downward again towards Thorny Howe.

Arriving at Thorny How at this time meant that the promise of free hot drink was long gone. I wasted a few minutes searching for a self-service kettle which I thought had been promised, to no avail.

Move on, keep going forward, the night’s objective was not yet reached. As I skirted around the northern side of Grasmere where the route crosses the main road between Ambleside and Keswick, the A591, I was struck by a fit of indecision. Go on, stop? I was tired, a short powernap was in order. After a few moments finding a spot to sit and huddle, donning extra layers I texted race HQ to say I planning to stay put for half an hour or so. In the end fitful sleep and the cold creeping in meant I was up and away within 20 minutes, anxious to keep going. But it was enough and within a few moments I was back on track heading up towards Grisedale Tarn.

Up ahead a few yards a light appeared, it was Steve checking if the path was to cross the stream. The official route takes the left-hand option, up alongside Little Tongue Gill, an unremitting slog of about 3km before reaching Grisedale Hause. Forward progress was by now very slow, the steepness of the terrain and the howling cold wind requiring determined effort to keep going up.

Cresting the top, Steve expressed a desire to stop and bivvi, I persuaded him that keeping going was a better option, there was no shelter from that cold wind. The path down Grisedale is long, rocky and hard going in the dark but I was making good progress. Concerned a little for Steve, I waited a couple of times for him to catch up, but my down-hill pace was faster than his so seeing he was all OK I carried on to Patterdale on my own.

As I crossed the main road through Patterdale, in front of the Hall, there’s Tom a friendly face in a Northern Traverse Hoodie calmly guiding me into the warm. Ian Corless is there with a camera and a flash. Another calm voice, “what would I like? Tea? Coffee? Something to eat? By that time all I could muster was a haunted stare and “tea please”. It’s quarter to five in the morning, Tuesday, I’d been on the go since 10 am the previous day, nearly 19 hours, not that far out of my predicted time of 16-18 hours. I was knackered but confident, I’d met my first target safely and the remainder would come good, I was now sure of that.

I planned a 3 hour turn around, may be a bit more, that included food and faffing a couple of hours sleep and kit faff in the “morning”, the target was to be away by 8. In the end it was just after 8:30 after Andy Laurence, who after his overnight bivvi turned up for breakfast. While we ate, others were already leaving. Laura and Fiona had left earlier as I’d got in, Andy and I left together in the sunshine headed for Shap, then Kirkby Stephen the next feedstation.

I’d not recced the next part of the route, that bit between Patterdale and Shap which takes in the highest point of the whole route, Kidsy Pike and it had been while since I last visited it. The area before Kidsy Pike itself, Angle Tarn is beautiful and today’s cloudless skies and bright sunshine showed off this far eastern part of the lakes at it’s best. The views westward to the central fells was stunning too.

Steve caught Andy and I up close to the summit of Kidsy Pike and after a quick stop for food and the odd photo we set off the steepening path towards Haweswater. My downhill pace soon left Andy and Steve behind as I pressed on along the side of the reservoir. “Alongside” is a bit of a miss-description, the path cuts in and out of rocky outcrops and patchy forest and rarely if ever is right alongside the water, and while not as dreadful as I’d been lead to believe it soon became a section I just wanted to be over and done with. Even engaging the occasional tourist, many expressing curiosity and amazement when they enquired about the race, did little to endear me to this short section.

If the descent of Kidsy Pike and the Haweswater path signifies the last of the Lakes then the start of the Dales proper is really Kirkby Stephen. The gap between the two, however, is rolling farmland increasingly defined by limestone walls and pavement. The quarries and mining and industrial exploitation of the hills becoming ever more evident as you progress eastward.

A brief stop at Shap and the New Ing Lodge for tea and cheese & pickle sandwiches , chatting with strangers, Tom’s smiley face. Now I was refuelled and watered ready for the next 20 odd miles to Kirkby Stephen. This was another section I’d recced so navigation was something I could just check on now and again, most of it committed to memory recently. Leaving slightly later than anticipated that morning meant again I had a key point in the plan, to get to the final stretch above Kirkby Stephen at dusk, so that the long walk in could be set up and safely done in the dark.

I was making good progress, the conditions underfoot really conducive to a fast pace, some running and easy nav. I passed Peter Sowerby and John Lill soon after Orton Scar as they were sat at the side of the path resting in the sunshine. They’d left Patterdale sometime before me that morning and I was surprised to see them at all. John was later to pull out at Kirkby Stephen having fallen and injured himself earlier in the week.

I almost got to Kirby in the daylight but the last few miles just seemed to drag on and it wasn’t until half eleven when I finally made it into the feed station feeling great, if tired.

Day Three: Kirkby Stephen to Richmond

I’m clearly a relatively consistent time behind some of the other racers, as I keep meeting the same set of faces, I took that to be a good sign. Fiona and Laura were there preparing to leave and we chatted a while before they set off and I went to get some sleep.

A couple of hours sleep, food and faffing and I’m off at first light towards Nine Standards, the first check point of the day. Although in distance terms Kirkby Stephen isn’t; it’s often thought of as half way on the C2C, I’m leaving well under two days from the start, the plan was seeming to come together.

It’s odd weather especially after the bright warm sunshine of the last few days in the Lakes. It’s clearly not going to rain but there’s low cloud on the tops and the wind is cold and getting stronger.

I reach The Standards just before 8 am, I’m not stopping, I’ve been here before and its always wet or wild or both and its no different today.

Find the trig point, set a bearing and head off south and east towards Keld.

The lack of any real rain for the past few weeks has meant that the Bog of Doom had dried out somewhat and its very easy going under foot. Which is all to the good and counteracts the strong head winds. The Bog of Doom is now the Bog of Driech”. The occasional grough and very soggy patch meant I was glad of my sock strategy, dry feet assured.

As the route approaches Keld and then on to Reeth the terrain alters to rough limestone, steep sided valleys where the mining heritage is very evident. The paths take level routes contouring the hills high above the valley floor where rivers meander in something looking, from where I was standing, to be idyllic soft countryside. Then from some determination to straighten the route the C2C takes a trip across the High Melbecks Moor above Swaledale before dropping back down to Reeth.

There’s two noticeable climbs that regain the moor tops, Swinner Gill near Crackpot Hall is the first of these. Its steep gravelly start amongst the mine ruins belies what is actually a beautiful waterway. I followed a dipper up the stepped series of waterfalls, the beauty of being close to nature distracting from the hard climb on tired legs.

I can’t say the second climb is anything like as beautiful or natural, I coined the phrase “The Slag Heap of Doom” and a poem which I now can’t remember to distract me. The slag heap gives way to just piles of mine debris and abandoned buildings and long, long and seemingly never ending mine track which even the low cloud and clag couldn’t hide and the freezing wind making it all the more bleak and inhospitable.

I’d not stopped at Keld, preferring to keep moving and therefore by the time I got to Reeth I was tired and hungry. Indeed I was too tired to eat but I knew I had to so headed for the Dales Bike Centre. The welcome there couldn’t be better and I stocked up on tea and egg sandwiches. The spicy soup was a step too far on my parched tongue; before heading off towards Richmond just another 12 miles or so, and the next halt. It was the middle of the afternoon, with a bit of luck I’d reach Richmond in daylight.

Not long after leaving Reeth, a section I’d recently recced with Angela White, I came across fellow competitor, Peter Sowerby. We’d been crossing paths for some days now and it was good to have a little bit of company. The official route seemed to have deviated from the C2C path and therefore that which I had recced, on the way to Marrick Priory. It was a little confusing at first as we’re being asked to follow the road rather than the path through the fields running parallel. However we soon regained the path as we climbed up the hill towards Marrick itself. It was here Pete stopped to look after his feet, complaining of them being sore. We sat for two minutes and took a photo or two before I pushed on by myself, determined to get to Richmond in good time.

Day Four: Richmond to The Lion Inn

Arriving in Richmond so early meant that there was time for a shower and proper food as well as a reasonable amount of sleep before first light the next morning. The section from here to The Lion Inn in the North Yorks Moors was going to be the second longest day of the event, and while both the height gain and the distance was not as much as the first day I was still expecting to finish in the dark, even with a 1am start.

I’d teamed up with Malcolm Hicks and Peter Sowerby in one of those loose “if you don’t mind”, “shall we stick together for a while”, kind of arrangements that often happens in this kind of race. The three of us set off in the pre-dawn gloom. Again this was a section of the route that Angela and I had done previously and while the official route deviated from what I recall just a little it was of no significance. This of course allowed us all to keep up a reasonable pace with virtually no stopping for nav. decisions or uncertainty.

The route diversion around the road and bridge works over the A1 as we neared Catterick provided a minor distraction. This section of the main North South trunk road in England seemingly in a permanent state of turmoil and closure. Once beyond Catterick the route takes in a fair amount of road as well as field boundaries but provides little of any real interest. It’s here I started to feel very low and the effects of not enough food and lack of hot coffee began to make it’s mark. At some point before Danby Wiske, we stop for a few minutes rest and “eye closure” not proper power nap though.

Its way too early to find anything or anywhere to refuel even if there had been anywhere and we pressed on for Danby where at least I knew there to be a pub and guest house. Whether it was going to be open or not was a different issue.

Somewhat monotonous field boundary after field boundary eventually brought us to Danby Wiske. The pub was shut but a movement spied through the window and a desperate need for hot food gave me the impetus to bang on the window.

The proprietor in his chef’s smock appeared through an open window. I begged for hot tea for the three of us and a bacon sandwich. He’s reluctant even though he recognises we’re from the race. Others had been through the day or so before. He’s determined that he serve his B&B guests, “can’t we wait for 30 mins?” We umm and ah a while, Malcolm decides to press on and not wait. I’m starving and press for a delivery date, he’s still reluctant so I persuade him that tea, which had now arrived and a marmalade sandwich would suffice and would be quicker.

After seeming another age, the buttie arrives, tea and it is scoffed in rapid order and money handed over. Peter and I are off again heading for James’s nemesis the A19 crossing and then the NYM.

The A19 is a surprisingly long way beyond Danby, which was the limit of my recce of this part of the route. By the time we’d reached there I was still hungry and feeling the lack of food. We stopped at the 24hr garage there and bought more food, coffee, proper coffee, woah that was good. Painkillers too, for now my feet were aching very badly. The hard under foot conditions had taken their toll and I was suffering a bit as was Peter.

A brief rest on the grass outside the shop and amongst the snarling diesel monsters while munching on the food we’d bought we contemplated the next section of the route, The North York Moors and the more immediate problem of crossing the A19. With James T’s words of warning ringing in our ears we threw caution to the wind and legged it to the central reservation. That bit was easy, crossing the southbound carriageway was a different prospect…….. wait for it… 3,2,1, …. run… oops these legs don’t run that fast anymore, jog to the other side.

Alive, we headed off up the forest tracks above Mount Grace Priory, to the first of our tops on the Cleveland Way which at this point is coincident with Wainright’s C2C. The path zig-zags back and forth through the trees periodically clearing to give us views across the Vale of York to the west and south, and east and north to the NYM themselves. The ridge of undulating tops that form the north facing escarpment, with names like Hasty Bank, Clay Bank and Carlton Bank evoking memories of previous visits. I knew this area well and although I anticipated all the ups and downs of the ‘scarp the weather was fine, if a little blowy, and after the food at the A19 I had a renewed enthusiasm. We paused at the top of the first climb to chat to an inquisitive couple who asked us where we’re off to. He pointed out the tops in the distance and wished us well.

Talking with strangers and explaining who and what you are doing is one of the enjoyable things about this kind of race. It’s not that one boasts about it, “ look at me aren’t I a hard ultra runner!”. For me its an excuse to engage with people beyond “hello” or “nice weather” and to encourage the belief that if you put your mind to it, or want something enough you too can do amazing things, be that a 5k park run or 190 mile ultra across the country.

There was a specific incident earlier in the week with an old farmer, somewhere above Reeth I think, who had obviously seen other competitors earlier in the day and knew about the race; commented “… you’re no youngster, all the others seem to be in their 30’s / 40’s …. “ I just retorted that “ you’re no spring chicken either!” We chatted for a short while exchanging great friendly banter. That kind of thing I love and find uplifting, engaging with real people.

Lordstones Café is located on the road crossing at the bottom of the north eastern end of Carlton Bank, approximately half way along the escarpment. Tom’s smiley face is there again to meet us on the path and guide us to the café itself. Just time for a coffee and more egg sandwich and crisps shared between Pete and I and a chance to adjust the layers and dry out a little, sweat not rain, the event bib living up to the negative expectations of some.

More familiar names are passed, The Wain Stones and Hasty Bank, Round Hill then we bear right and east at Bloworth Crossing where we part company with the Cleveland Way which takes a sharp left turn north towards Roseberry Topping. Our track towards the Lion Inn is a disused railway level. From the map it looks easy going and to be fair on any other day it would be but the combination of fatigue, low cloud, cold wind and endless false vistas, “are we there yet?” and “it must be in sight just around the NEXT bend surely!” made for a long and tiring evening. We eventually pulled in to the car park at the Lion Inn / Blakey Ridge and Joe’s welcoming crew and the Van Café just before it became fully dark at about 9:30.

We’d been on the go since 1:30 that morning, Richmond did seem a very long way away.

With Joe’s chilli and mugs of tea we planned the next and final day. Pete argued for a longer sleep than I’d previously planned, to recover form today’s epic and still be away a couple of hours before the cut-off (5:30) should give us more than enough leeway to get to the finish mid afternoon, before closing time. We were here to finish after all, not planning to break our selves for a matter of a couple of hours and very little difference in the final placings.

Breakfast a few hours later, porridge and bacon butties, the dawn obscured by the clag and wind and we’re off headlong into the cold outside and the final miles.

The long track around the edge of the moor and then down the ridge to Gaisdale passes underfoot. Its boggy in places and the track is indistinct but we make good progress, eventually catching up with Steve and Ed Townson who’d left an hour or so before us. We don’t really stop, our forward momentum is precious.

Glaisdale arrives and is gone again. I’d recce the village a week or so ago so was familiar with the tricky nav. through the village. The Esk Valley walk through Egton Bridge and on to Grosmont is pleasant enough with at least one or two tempting pubs to stop at but were left for another day. At one point we chatted to an estate worker who commented how knackered another group of racers had looked who he had seen earlier. “They’d just gone up the big hill you’re about to hit on the way up to Sleights Moor”. With those cheery words in our ears we pressed on.

Sure enough the pull out of Grosmont lives up to its reputation and it’s head down and focus on upward movement. Indeed this is one of the times we made any nav. errors, we spotted a fellow competitor ahead and in that head down mode we kind of followed. Mistake, but spotted soon enough and 100 m retraced steps and we’re back on track.

There’s another road to cross, the A169 to Whitby, but no deadly jousting here. Then were off down hill again to Little Beck, at a run we’re feeling good and the sun is out and we can see the seaside, nearly. Little Beck arrives and so does that smile again, Tom taking pictures. We run through the gate into the woods and up hill making good progress until it dawns on us this isn’t right somehow. Down hill again to the gate, the actual path is just 50m around the corner through another gate. It’s at this moment I remember making exactly the same mistake on a club C2C relay run some years ago.

The correct track is popular, a scenic woodland walk and thick slimy mud underfoot, Pete is not impressed. Then its back up steeply to the top of the moor again and a meandering boggy trail, sometimes indistinct towards Hawkser.

That last km on the road to Hawkser is hard underfoot but there’s people up ahead, Andy Laurence and Susan, Steph Scott and family (and my lift home) are there to cheer us on. We walk together for a short while through the village before heading for the coastal path and promises that they’ll meet us at the finish somewhere.

The costal path, the home stretch, mirrors the starting miles along the headland at St. Bees. Steep cliffs and sea vistas, that we left just four days ago and 190 miles away. We jogged a bit, keen to get it finished now, stopping once in a while to take some photos.

Eventually arriving at the Rocket Field about a mile from the finish and there’s Steph taking photos and we’re suddenly running properly, new found energy, the finish is just down that hill. Then it’s dodging tourists and dogs and children and the slipway is there, James T is there with medals for both of us and some daft comment “what time do you call this then?”. Tom and others taking photos and asking if we want chips? And there’s hugs from friends and smiles and a great sense of satisfaction and friendship.

Are we going to run back up the hill?

This notion was that after doing 190 miles we should have a side bet / competition to see who could run up the hill back to the village hall where all our kit was stored. What? Who’d have thought that was a good idea? No one surely?

Then Pete’s off and running and I shot off after him with Tom in tow with his smart phone timing the attempt. Why? It’s a 1:3 half mile drag back up the hill I’ve just run down. It kills tourists with great regularity, tipping coronary failure in all but the fittest; where’s the sense in that? Well none obviously but it seemed the most fitting way to finish the week.

(7mins 24 seconds if you must know)

After Thoughts

High point in the race; the arrival at Patterdale in approximately the planned time. While I was completely knackered I somehow knew then that I was going to finish.

Low points; there were a couple of really low points where exhaustion and the lack of food took its toll not helped by worsening stomach aches, but the long featureless section between Richmond and Danby Wiske was the worst of these. Pete Sowerby, who I walking with at the time said later, ”I didn’t think you’d make it past the A19”.

Things that worked well; managing sleep and deciding that sleep and a reasonable finish time was better than arriving just a few hours earlier but broken and hardly any higher up the rankings if any. Socks, injinjii toe socks and Dexshell waterproof outers resulted in dry feet all week and only minor blisters on the very last day.

Things that didn’t work well; My Garmin Fenix 3 GPS watch disappointingly can’t do more than about 16 hours in GPS mode so even just recording my track with that didn’t work. I gave up with it and relied on my trusty GPS Map 62s as my recorder and the back up to the excellent event maps.

The event bib. While I had been relatively positive about the event bib, having used something similar on the ITERA a couple of years ago and recognised the organiser’s viewpoint entirely. However the experience in the race was less than helpful. I’m not sure but I suspect that the quality and density of the printing, event logos numbers etc, on the bib made it pretty impermeable despite the mesh fabric. Worn over my brand new Gortex Montane jacket left the inner layers sodden with sweat. To make matters more obvious I’d worn a ultra light weight windproof jacket also of Gortex as a mid layer (it was an outer but not removed when adding extra layers). Everything between me and it was only damp.

A huge thank you to the organisers, James Thurlow’s OpenAdventure and the team of staff and volunteers. Without them the event wouldn’t be the journey that it was.