Lakeland 42

LAKELAND 42 – Saturday April 5, 2014 42 miles (if you take the correct course) and c11,500 feet of ascent

A magnificent victory for NFR’s Chris Winter over this most challenging course bearing all the hallmarks of a Joe Faulkner organized event (i.e. an ability to navigate), coming home in 8h 43m, over 13 minutes ahead of his nearest rival in a field of 85. Chris’s performance was made all the more impressive by having to do battle with a cloud base which stubbornly refused to rise above 1,500 feet all day and persistent blustery showers  which made navigation and overall conditions extremely challenging. 

This race, now in its second year is the less famous brother of the Winter Tour de Helvellyn. It starts and finishes in the village of Askham in the Far Eastern Lakes before working its way over Loadpot Hill and out to High Street before wending a course down to Angle Tarn and then descending steeply into Patterdale. From the course goes in a big loop taking in Grisedale Tarn, Wythburn, a lung bursting ascent of Helvellyn round to Whiteside and back down into Patterdale. The coup de grace is an ascent of Place Fell. In its own right nothing to strike terror into the seasoned hill scout but after 33 odd miles it takes on new proportions (or at least it did for me). It is then back down to Howtown and back over Moor Divock to Askham for tea and medals.

Unlike last year’s winter wonderland of deep crisp runnable snow under a canopy of clear azure skies this was more typical April Lakeland weather, frequent showers, zero visibility on the higher tops and a chill wind which at least we had on our backs part of the time. My memory is of either rocky paths or squelchy moorland with nothing much in between.

85 set out and 78 made it to the end ranging between Chris’s 8h 43m to the last man home some six and a half hours later.

Tom Reeves finished in 10h 51m (31st) whilst yours truly having managed to keep pace with my time from last year until the return to Patterdale blew up in fairly spectacular fashion on the ascent of Place Fell and then compounded matters by going walkabout over the undulating summit ridge for around twenty minutes before actually believing what my compass was telling me which ended up in me taking the “scenic route” back into Howtown. In mitigation by this time I had gone nearly 6 days without beer and was clearly bereft of logical thought. Still 11h 44m saw the job done for 50th place.

Finally, thanks to Joe and his team for their excellent support and plentiful supply of calories along the way and at the end. Special mention must go to the advice dispensed at Wythburn prior to the ascent of Helvellyn, which went along the lines of “It’s blowing a gale, raining hard and is freezing. There’s zero visibility and there are still extensive cornices so don’t tread on any snow, apart from that everything’s fine.” With words like that who needs encouragement?

John Telfer

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