Initially, when I looked on the Monday, the weather forecast told me that Sunday, the day of the Great Trail Challenge, would be cool with rain. On Wednesday, the other half said that it was going to be warm and sunny according to the forecast he looked at. I refused to believe him and clung on to the hope of cool temperatures and refreshing rain showers.
Saturday was really warm and I had to accept the fact that it was going to be another hot run. I was pleased that I’d chosen to do the 11k option rather than the 22k.
We headed down to Keswick on the Sunday, arriving at the car park on Crosthwaite road just before 10am. It was already warm., really warm. Even Erin had taken her coat off – she usually wears two coats even when it’s nice. This was serious!
I quickly got ‘race ready’ and we headed over Fitz Park, past the leisure centre to the event field. I joined the toilet queue and it wasn’t too long before I headed to my pen. A cool breeze that had stirred up while standing in the toilet queue soon abated as the starting time crept closer. I was warm already. At 10:45 the horn sounded and we were off. A lap of the field (rather hilly!) made sure the mass of runners were strung out before heading out on to the old railway line.
The path along the old railway line seems to stretch on forever at the best of times. Today I honestly thought it was never going to end. The sun beat down and there seemed to be no respite from it. Eventually, at 5k the route diverted from the old railway and we hit the first real climb. My legs already feeling heavy, I had to resort to a walk/run strategy. After the climb, there was a nice downhill section which included a nice wooded section. Finally, some respite from the sun! The relief was short lived as we headed out of the woods and towards Latrigg. This saw the beginning of the King of the Mountain section. I, once again, adopted a walk/run strategy as I made my way slowly round the shoulder of Latrigg. Last year there was music blaring out at this point and I found it really helped motivate me to dig in and keep going. I was disappointed that it wasn’t there this year.
Being such a clear day, the views were spectacular. Although this is a regular route of mine, I never tire of it.
Finally, we reached the end of the King of the Mountain segment and so began the Demon Descent! Although my legs were heavy, I tried to open up and gain some time on this section. It felt good to be heading down towards the finish. However, I’d forgotten how steep the sneaky little hill is as you head through the woodland towards the bottom of Latrigg. It took every ounce of determination to keep going at this point! The last kilometre seemed to go on and on and, despite it being predominantly downhill, I just wanted to stop. I could hear the commentary from the finish area and knew I was nearly there. I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Simple…
Then I was climbing the steep bank and heading to the finish. I heard Tristan and the girls cheering me on and I tried to dig in and sprint to the finish. My legs weren’t responding, though, and so I just kept the same steady pace to the line. I was so relieved to finish and pleased with 1 hour 12 minutes considering the size of the hills and the unbearable heat!
I picked up my goody bag and was reunited with my family. This was a really well organised and enjoyable run. It was my third time doing this event and I hope to be back next year. I just hope it’s a bit cooler!