All week the forecast had been looking a bit dodgy with heavy showers and thunder & lightning forecast. An early and chilly start meant that I mistakenly opted for a lightweight fleece rather than my normal t-shirt and arm warmers. However I was glad of it on the first climb over High Pike where a couple of heavy squalls hit us. The limited visibility meant that that there were some interesting route choices over the tops all played out in real time on the big screen courtesy of the trackers we all carried. Nothing too dramatic on my part and I dropped back down into the sunshine and the temporary bridge over the River Caldew having passed around 30 folk in the murk.
The long drag up the back of Blencathra was as mind numbing as usual but once in the clouds I was able to pick up the Bob Graham trod which cuts directly up to the saddle and on to the summit. Halls Fell Ridge was greasy with a lot of very nervous runners sliding down on their bottoms. Knowing they'd all overtake me again as soon as we hit flat ground I was making good progress when I noticed that I was missing a section of my trekking pole. I briefly climbed back up the ridge but with no idea how far I'd have to go turned back around and continued down to the first checkpoint at Threlkeld.
Crossing under the A66 we were soon back on Bob Graham territory slogging up Clough Head. The weather was improving fast with some stunning views between the great banks of cumulus clouds which were blowing through. I went too high on Great Dodd losing a lot of time of a large group of runners ahead. Everytime I popped out of the cloud they were a little bit closer and I was able to start picking them off as the weather rapidly improved to give a glorious afternoon. Now rather warm in my fleece the blast down to Ambleside from Fairfield was great fun getting to the second checkpoint in just under eight hours.
The second half of the route was more trail running than fell. I always seem to suffer on long flat sections and my pace drops right off. True to form this was my weakest leg with a spot of knee pain not helping the situation. In the gathering gloom navigation was becoming important as well. Some sections were waymarked but care was needed to stay on track through the forests. The final checkpoint was at Finsthwaite with only a short 11km to go. A sausage roll and a brew were lifesavers before back out into a very still and chilly night. Mist was starting to form in the hollows and it was a very atmospheric evening to be out and about. A team of four ahead of me were moving well but I was catching them as they were working hard on the navigation. Attempting to follow an indistinct footpath across farm land at Speel Bank we all ended up on the wrong side of a drystone wall staring at thick woodland. A spot of bracken bashing and a quick climb soon had us back on track and making our way through the forest to the final road run in. Just before my Garmin battery went flat it looked like we had 20 minutes left to beat the 14 hours and approximately 4km to go. It all came good crossing the finishing line in 13:51:58 and 32nd position. Yet another classic race in the making to add to peoples bucket lists!