So this weekend just gone I went and did my first ever ‘destination’ race in the Lake District. I’d signed up for the Karrimor 11k Great Trail challenge a while back and somehow managed to rope my other half into doing it too on the pretence that it’s ONLY 11k and we can have a lovely weekend away (he is quite fit, but sloth-like in his approach to life). So on the Friday night we drove up to Ambleside and stayed in a nice B&B. If you’ve never been before, you must go – it’s a stunning town and retains every bit of its olde worlde charm. It’s also a mecca for anyone into hiking, cycling, mountaineering and trail running, with at least 20 such stores!
On the Saturday, not knowing the area, we made a bit of a booboo with our choice of location (I won’t say where, but it was a grey and horrible chav town!). So, we decided to head to Keswick (where the race was being held) and scope out the area to avoid getting lost in the morning. I preferred Keswick to Ambleside – it’s a proper bustling market town with restaurants and tonnes of outdoor shops! It’s also right on the lake and the mountains. Easily the the most picturesque place in England I have been to.
Sunday was D-day and Rich and I were both really nervous about the race. Think it was the prospect of running up a ruddy great hill in the heat that had us questioning why we were there in the first place. We watched as the 22kers got underway and lined ourselves up in the start pen, which I have to say was probably the most organised I have ever seen a race. I’ve done a few lately where it’s been a complete freeforall with faster runners being at the back and slow coaches at the front with the elite runners! Soon it was our turn to run – the first 1k was a lap around the field and then we hit the trails, ran through a wooded area – at this point I lost Rich as he was taking it too easy.
At 4k, we hit the first of the hills. I normally run up hills no bother. All I can say is the hills in southern England don’t count – these were something else entirely! The first part of the first hill was really steep, and when a few walkers overtook me I quickly realised that running was futile. I opted to march instead. Then came the downhill stretch – a good opportunity to make up for lost time! In the back of my mind though at this point I knew that a mahoosive hill was coming up shortly and if I found the first one tough, who knows what I’d make of that?!
Well, I didn’t see one single person running on the second hill! Then, came the best bit of all – the demon descent. By this point I was flying like a looney down the hill – I checked my Garmin and I was doing 4 min/k!
There were a couple of totally uncalled for and cheeky hills in the descent though that nearly killed me, but I pushed on. By the finish, I really did feel utterly spent – but managed a little sprint!
My Garmin showed the course was more like 12k and I finished in 1.15 with my first bit of 2013 race bling!
– The course – it was challenging but somehow fun
– Good excuse for a holiday and we all know I don’t need any excuses for those
– The unusual distance meant it wasn’t about PBs, it was about a day out
– Stunning location
– Nice bit of bling
– Best race photos ever – I almost look happy/human!
I am definitely doing the race again next year – even the other half who hates running is up for doing it again. That’s how good it was folks!!
Diva rating: 5/5