> 60@60: Peter Moralee

Wasdale May 15th 3.30pm. As I sat shivering in the car, feeling absolutely knackered and completely wiped out, my 60 at 60 attempt had really hit the buffers. Will Horsley and Paul Appleby had taken me through leg 1 in good time, Will, now technologically enabled, has become a master navigator. Geoff Davis, who doesn’t need the technology, and Tom Reeves, had led me capably over leg 2 in better time. However, from the start I was feeling very sick and this persisted over leg 3 (along with the advent of cramp) when Dave Atkinson, Allon Welsh and Tom Reeves again tried to jolly me along and ignore my whingeing. They combined to throw me up Broad Stand where Linda Bray was in charge of the roping party, but when we got down to Wasdale, I had nothing left. Will had nobly come round to do leg 4 but all his efforts of carrot and stick, along with help from Allon and Tom weren’t enough to get me up Yewbarrow and I gave up. The one useful spin off of the day was that the three of them carried on without me over leg 4 to give Tom and Allon useful outings before their BG attempts.

Lying in bed that night, chewing over my disappointment, Dave Atkinson’s words of the afternoon came back to me, suggesting that I should just treat the day as a long training run. So, at the drowning of sorrows next day in the Horse & Farrier, I floated the idea of another attempt to my helpers and to their great credit the response was positive. The next night I had a drink with Peter Reed in the Dog and Gun and tried to establish whether they really meant it, he assured me that they did.

June 12th, a month later was set as the day of the rematch with the mountains. Now, in the original plan lots of rest and relaxation was on the agenda to follow a successful attempt. This meant that the month before June 12th wasn’t the ideal fitness regime featuring a week’s holiday in Turkey, a 50th birthday weekend in St. Andrews and a wedding weekend in Somerset. I only managed one trip to the lakes and this was hindered by car trouble. However, that day did involve coming down Scafell to Wasdale and going up Yewbarrow, trying to banish some demons.

Kick off in the replay (photo: Michele Moralee)

So it all began again at 1am on June 12th with a good weather forecast. Will Horsley had at first said he wouldn’t be there because of the Swaledale marathon, but now planned to go off afterwards to do it; he kept his Superman clothes hidden during the night. I had a surprise helper in Scott Gibson along with Will on leg 1, a bit daunting for just about the slowest runner in the NFR to be sandwiched between two of the fastest. They were both very tolerant and the technology took us unerringly over the same route as a month before, through the clag on Skiddaw with less faffing as Will put it. This meant arriving at Threlkeld ten minutes earlier to find Geoff Davis as my sole helper for leg 2. Geoff was shouldering this burden on his birthday of all days but navigated effortlessly through the clag keeping me going with talk of campanology and his forthcoming holiday to Tennessee. I had to apologise for being a miserable companion but I was beginning to feel pretty tired at an ominously early stage. However, Geoff kept me going and Susan appeared, offering support near the top of Fairfield.

Arriving at Dunmail (photo: Chris Hoskin)

I arrived at Dunmail in about the same time as a month before, not feeling sick this time, but feeling much more tired, and again struggling to eat. This raises the issue of whether recovery times for veteran, even ancient, athletes are longer than for normal people.

Food and drink during these long days out is becoming more and more of a puzzle for me but I have been in some way reassured to hear that Steve Birkinshaw, who operates on a different plane altogether, had similar problems during his recent record attempt.

Steel Fell behind us (photo: Michele Moralee)

Paul Appleby had been going to do a solo assist on leg 3 but Kevin Bray managed to enlist Jeff Ross to help at short notice. I hadn’t met Jeff before but he and Paul nursed me through probably my worst period of the round with great kindness and patience. The pace became funereal as I left the FRA to sign up for the LDWA. My experience in the UTMB when I was similarly tired about half way through led me to abandon any pretence of running and concentrate on keeping up a walk of some sort, any sort!

Gradually, we slogged through the leg and I managed to Paul’s surprise and horror to eat most of his lunch along with some welcome flapjacks from Jeff.

Scafell: This is me
This is not me (photos: Chris Hoskin)
(click all the half-size pics for larger)

Broad Stand came and went in a blur. Again, Linda Bray was there with John Bower, Dave Rickaby and Grant Reed, who very efficiently got us up. Kathryn’s boyfriend Chris, who had had a long cold wait with the rope party, greeted me above Broad Stand and after Scafell we eventually reached Wasdale.

Wasdale: New tyres please (photo: Chris Hoskin)
Next stop incontinence pants (photo: Chris Hoskin)
Troops refuelling (photo: Kevin Bray)
Start of leg 4 (photo: Chris Hoskin)

Tired as I was here, I was still in the land of the living compared to last time and was met by Kevin Bray and Graham Wilkinson. Kevin was good enough to attend to my feet (definitely beyond the call of duty) while Michele spoon-fed me with chocolate cake. Here also was Tom Reeves, fresh from his triumphant BG seven days before. Amazingly he offered to accompany us for a while and Paul also carried on. Kevin took charge and from here to the end gave me constant encouragement and also insisted that I spoil some superb shots of the mountains by standing in front of them! Slowly, ever so slowly, we toiled up Yewbarrow but after that things felt a bit better and after Tom left us at Wind Gap, Pillar, Kirkfell and Great Gable came and went and we came down towards Honister to be met by Chris and son Peter as darkness fell.

Yewbarrow 1 Moralee 1
Stirrup Crag - all that still to come!

Ants on Steeple (above photos: Kevin Bray)

At Honister Dave Atkinson waited along with Peter Reed. Dave had already done the Ennerdale Race (23 miles) but unbelievably had come to see me home. Hard or mad or what, much appreciated anyway. Kevin, Paul and Graham were set to carry on also. I sheltered from the cold in Dave and Val’s mobile first aid station and I could happily have lain down to sleep. This however was where my stomach finally revolted and rejected everything that I had just taken in and also refused anything further from here to the finish. Funnily enough, this was almost a relief and it was now just a question of keeping going at whatever pace I could manage. The clag reappeared and made the location of the summit of Robinson rather tedious but after that Peter Reed stepped in and led us immaculately down to Newlands Hause for our last contact with the camp followers. Here we left Paul Appleby who had put in a huge shift at the coalface and seen me through sixteen difficult hours.

Eel Crag – 3 tops left (photo: Kevin Bray)

From Newlands Hause it was hard to lose height down to the burn knowing that it was all to climb again in the long slog up to Whiteless Pike but Peter led us on and Kevin kept Graham going up the hill and eventually we reached the ridge. Having erected a new summit cairn on Sail, Peter remarked as we reached Scar Crags that it was getting lighter and I started to hear the birds singing as we came down at long last to Stair to see Michele and Val waiting for us, most of the family were asleep in the car!

60@60 at last! (photo: Chris Hoskin)

This was where it ended. I was all in and Peter had said in typical forthright fashion – you’ve done the 60 peaks, that should be enough. At the time I was only too happy to agree.

Afterwards, perhaps there was some regret that we didn’t complete the circuit and also that I didn’t manage to keep to my schedule of 26 hours, but overall, great relief at having reached all the peaks. A pulled muscle in the Chevy Chase and the knowledge of good friends unable to run at all makes me realise how thankful I should be to have got through all the training uninjured and still, with my senior railcard, be able to get up and down a hill or two. Having said all this, it’s still quite tough to have to adjust to the fact that nowadays I can’t keep up with young things like Peter Reed.

Val asked me the next day in the pub for my most memorable moment, which peak or which view or whatever, but without doubt the thing that will always be with me and that I found almost overwhelming was the kindness and generosity of spirit of my team of supporters. At my age you need more help and boy did they give it.

I have to thank and apologise again to the family for putting them through it. Ruth and Mark and Jenny and Simon helped in May but couldn’t make the June trip while Kathryn, Chris and Peter gave their support second time round, that’s what families are there for, of course.

Finally, Michele twice cooked enough food to feed most of the Lake District, everyone she says but me. As Kevin said, she’s had some anxious waits, no fingernails left, and for that and all the other long trips, I will always be grateful. She now wants me to retire and maybe I will……..maybe.

Peter Moralee

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