I was ready for this race, I had done some good training followed by a decent taper and I was happy with the route. I came to this event mentally prepared and with the forecast I was hoping for a repeat of the Great Lakes. Arriving early, I registered,talked and went through race preparations but then it was announced the route will be changed due to the weather. The altered route was long but far from having the climb or the rough nature of the actual route and largely consisted of trail. The organiser made the only decision he could with the threat of thunderstorms to avoid the skyline. I was sad initially as I had built up to this race but happy the organiser made this decision to safeguard us and more importantly the marshals who would of been at risk. My chances of a good result had been reduced but as my friend Andy asked “are you going to race this?” I answered “of course”. The course was going to favour the runners with greater flat speed with the long flat run in. This was not going to deter me, I was in good form so I would start with a determined positive mindset to give it my best. At least it wasn’t a scorcher!
On the line, their was clearly some negative vibes around, I took up prime position next to Daz K and followed him across the rough stuff to the track. I was happy at the front setting the pace with a clear view ahead. We turned up the climb onto the fell, I tuck in behind Rhys expecting a rush from behind, it does not really come except for Morgz. Many are playing a patient game, saving energy and following from a safe distance to minimise navigation issues, in retrospect this was probably where I could have saved some energy.
On the other hand I wanted to be in the heat of the battle gaining in confidence from the fact I was near the front. Hitting the track along Buttermere valley floor there was a group of at least ten including all the favourites. I was keeping near the front ready to respond the best I could to any attack over Scarth Gap and not to lose too much ground. The attack came from Rob Jebb as he pushed the pace and I could not live with this burst of speed so settled into a pace I could cope with. This lost its venom as Rob slipped over on the wet slabs and the moment was gone. I recovered half way up and followed Rhys over the hause missing the checkpoint which was not on the revised map as we had taken a more direct line over a shoulder. There was still 8 pretty much all together coming over the saddle. It seemed Joe and I were happy to push on down the hill to Black Sail YHA, so I took on the reins of leading. I saw the line up the river to the checkpoint on Moses trod below Green Gable so I was happy leading setting a rhythm up the hill then onto Beck head. I had not been overtaken I was surprised with all this climbing talent behind me, so I continued around the traverse path to Black Sail pass leading the group.
With a ten metre gap coming to the checkpoint I thought I have to go for this down the hill. So I just ran the descent fairly hard opening a small gap on Joe by the Hut checkpoint and a little more to the rest. I did not need to look behind as I knew what would be coming so I made hay while the sun shined. I concentrated on my form and running hard. It happened about a third of the way along the track, Joe caught me but did not move away. Then a little further came the Karl and Rob Hope train and I could not live with their speed but I kept with Morgz and Joe to the field centre. This was good I had survived the track fairly well, one final gel and onto the rough stuff. I felt Morgz suffering through the forest so I went for it again in Rob and Karl barely 15 seconds in front with a bit of navigational hesitation which also allowed Oli and Rhys to catch. I put my head down and pushed over the rocky stuff Oli came past a little stronger but I kept my head up and even though I was losing ground to the front three I had put a gap on those behind. Nearly there, the rocky bit, I can feel the gasket going. It really is not too far, just keep it ticking over, someone is closing me down, over the river along the trail and through the gate. I have done it, I allow myself a happy punch in the air and cross the line in fourth place just ahead of Andrew Fallas, Rhys & Morgz and behind the quick finishing Rob Hope, Karl & Oli.
I would put this as one of my best performances. I am stoked today, the result helps me keep dreaming with more hard work needed.