Toughest. Race. Ever.
Actually, I was doing the lightweight 50 mile option - the folks doing the full 100 had it far harder. They started at 7:30pm on Friday and ran through the night (during which it rained heavily and persistently on them), whereas we started at noon the following day. This still involved a few hours of darkness on the fells later on, with a smattering of rain, but at least there were only 50 miles.
So, tough terrain. I thought I'd met tough terrain before, but the variety of types of tough were something to behold - ankle sucking peat bogs, cold streams, sharp and loose rocky trails, bracken obscured paths, extremely steep uphills and downhills, wet slippery stones, slidy stiles and all of this for practice in the daylight, before more of the same in the dark. It's fair to say it was the most difficult event I've done.
But there were some stunning views - the highest point was 665 metres, offering a fantastic panorama. Wished I'd taken a camera. Throughout the day we looked down on Ullswater, Haweswater and Windermere (the dark hid Coniston Water from view on the descent into the finish town). There was also the surreal nature of navigating up on the fells with only a small spot of headtorch light to see by, illuminating the sheep's eyes in an almost alarming manner.
There were 7 checkpoints, well stocked with various food and drink (the hobnobs and straawberry jam were my favourite). I ran with a fellow Fetchie, Jo, from about 27 miles onwards and it was great to have both company as distraction up the long hills, and someone to work out the correct route with. We met up with another group of four later on, which was even more reassuring for finding the course at night. We finished exhausted but happy at around half past two in the morning (final time of 14:22:13). We got a medal and a rather nice pertex gilet.
So now the 100 miler is looking tempting for next year...