> 2007 race reports
19/05/07 Old County Tops - from John Duff

Jerry Sharp and I ran the Old County Tops on Saturday.  This is a 37 miler in the Lakes over Helvellyn, Scafell Pike, and Coniston Old Man.  The weather was decidedly poor at the Great Langdale start - heavy showers blown in on a cold, strong wind - but this didn't deter a record number of entries: 55 pairs.

The climb up Helvellyn passed quickly enough, and we were soon hammering out the descent to the first refreshment point at Wythburn.  The climb up the Wythburn was its usual boggy self, with marble-sized hailstones thrown in for good measure.  We took a good line around High Raise to Angle Tarn, but then I went through a bad patch and several teams caught us up.  Scafell Pike was in the cloud but at least it wasn't hailing on England's highest hill.  We found the direct descent off the south face, and managed to claw back a few of the lost places.

Upper Eskdale was deserted and beautiful.  I finally managed to shrug off my bad patch, and we made reasonable time to the Cockley Beck Bridge checkpoint where flapjack and tea awaited.  After the grind up Grey Friar, it was a relief to top out and take the traverse to Coniston.  The cloud had finally lifted and we could see the fast teams on their return leg.  It was still blowing a gale, and the marshal on Coniston had retreated into his tent.  With relief we ticked off the final county top, and headed off on the home run.

We had been overlapping with another team, but they opened up a lead on the descent from Coniston.  However they took a bad line off Wet Side Edge and had to climb back up to the final checkpoint.  This allowed us to sneak ahead and the race was now on for the finish.  Spurred on by Jerry's determination and jelly babies, we just held them off and even managed a fast descent back into Langdale.  We finished 16th in a time of 9 hours and 5 minutes.  All that remained was to collect the T shirt, eat some flapjack, and head off to the New Dungeon Ghyll for a well-deserved pint.

A grand day out.

John Duff
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