In 2013 I'd been working on the Lakeland fells and seen several competitors from the 10 Peaks race looking lost on Great Gable. The challenge of climbing the 10 highest peaks in the Lakes nonstop seemed entirely logical and so I signed up for this years event. Conditions were looking pretty good with warm temps but a little bit of cloud and rain on the tops, great for those with local knowledge. With plenty of miles in my legs this year I made the conscious decision to race rather than just get round. Visability was down on the first summit of Helvellyn and I passed a few of the racing snakes who were taking the scenic route.
The long traverse over to Bowfell went well as I picked up some very useful trods before nipping up the Bob Graham rake which saved me at least 20 minutes on some of the competitors around me. My challenge suddenly increased when like a total numpty I managed to let my map blow away. Nonetheless I made good time to Mickledore and the choice of Foxes Tarn or Lords Rake. I went for the scree gully of Lords Rake cutting back left up the main fault line from the chockstone. Touching the summit it was straight back down the gully continuing down until I could pick up the traverse path which leads to Lingmell Col below Pikes Crag. Other runners were taking the more direct route to Pillar by the floor of Wasdale but I figured I'd be quicker going via Corridor Route and Great Gable. This bit felt like a score event with runners moving every which way.
Over the top of Great Gable still feeling strong I arrived at the checkpoint at Beck Head to the surprising news that I was the 14th runner through. It was a bit more complicated than that as competitors were free to climb Pillar and Gable in either order and the mathematics of the situation occupied my mind as I commenced the long drag up to Pillar. There were plenty of runners descending towards me, some who had already climbed Gable and others that hadn't. By the time I arrived back at Beck Head I reckoned I really was 14th overall. This was confirmed when I arrived at Honister Pass where I devoured a plate of pasta bolagnaise, a strong coffee and a can of Coke in quick succession.
Out of the door I opted to descend to Borrowdale and pick up the Cumbria way rather than the organisers recommended route via Dalehead Tarn. As I rounded the foot of Cat Bells I surprised the runner in 12th position who was following his map. Ludovic Maillard and I ran together to the base of Skiddaw where it quickly became clear he was a far better climber than me quickly dropping me and disappearing into the distance. We both managed to overtake Sue Savege in 11th place who was having a moment on the final scree slope. The weather was deteriorating fast as we topped out and turned for the final run home. Towards the bottom of the hill my energy levels crashed and my vision narrowed. Swallowing three gels in a row I was startled to see Sue closing fast behind me. The two combined spurred me into a sprint finish back in to Keswick. Right at the death I made my only navigation error of the day having neglected to recce the finish. Taking the long way round via the hospital I sprinted up to the front door of the football club in a time of 15:42 for 12th position and probably my best ever ultra result. A few minutes later Sue arrived by the correct route while Ludovic had finished more than 20 minutes ahead.
Wee video from John Pennifold showcasing the 10 Peaks experience! Just squeezed in in under 24 hours :)