10 peaks challenge



It has been a long time since I have been in the lake district, more than a year which is longer than I'd normally like to leave it after discovering it's magnificence a few years back. Usually I am not here for an event (unless you count the Anniversary Waltz which I managed to come last in last year). The excuse to nip up there this time was to run the 10 peaks challenge, climbing the 10 biggest peaks in the lake district. 24 hour cut off and I'd have to finish in 16 hours to make it back to Keswick for the famous Cow Pie dinner. 45miles and 5600 meters of elevation. How hard can it be? We had our feet in the clouds. That give me an idea for a book..

We started at 4am at the base of Helvelyn, 951m, one of the bigger peaks. 200 odd runners plodded single file up a steep climb up some rock steps to the summit, it took nearly an hour and by the top by which time the sun had risen and the day looked glorious. one down, a nice down hill bit of running and we were well into this.

I was doing this as Ben Cope wanted to do something epic in his 30th year and what better than smashing your legs on some of Britains finest rock. It wasn't just rock though, there were bogs everywhere. It has pissed it down in England for a month and everywhere was soaked. Luckily the weather today was perfect, glorious sunshine and no rain. In the first running of this event no one finished due to the bad weather.

I was also with Mike Wilcox who was running like a dog who had never been out for a run before, jumping over and into things and generally being stupid. Two of his friends Tim and Oli were with us too, they knew the way along with Ben and so we were determined to stick with them.

We climbed another two significant peaks before being told that those don't count in the 10 peaks they are just smaller peaks that you have to climb to get up the the main peaks. So after 4 hours of climbing up and down and up and down we were still only on one peak. That Cow Pie might not happen now.

It was really hard even on the flat grassy bits as there was water everywhere and I made a very poor choice of shoe. Much as I love these shoes they were certainly not fell shoes and not good for kicking rocks which I was doing a lot. I lost my shoe once and spent much of the time on my arse, at some point sliding down a hill faster than I could ever hope to run down.

Finally we managed to get to the second peak Bowfell, 902m tall. It was frustrating that we had to climb up and down three others to get there.

The terrain here is brutal. It brought back wonderful memories of the Barkley race in April as to just how difficult it is to get any momentumn on here at all. There was some running down Helwelyn but from then on we were just hiking. Going down was hard, we were staggering around like Bambi. I don't think any of us were any good at it. I thought the Bob Graham Round might be doable by me but now I am certain it's not as I can't go down anything at any pace.

I thought about how this compares to Barkley. The climbs are as severe. The distance and total elevation is about a third of the Barkley so the time limit of 24 hours is quite tight. The only difference is that where there are rocks here in Tennesse there are dead trees. On the beautiful clear day you could see all around and it reminded me of Frozen Head Park. This is definitely good training.

We did the next few peaks in quick succession which was great. Great End, 910 m, Ill Crag, 935 m, Broad Crag, 934 m and Scafell Pike, 978 m all seemed to fall away quickly. I had never been up Englands highest mountain before and so getting up Scafell Pike was a novelty. There were a lot of tourists up there. We then headed straight off to climb Scarfel which was a bit lower but a harder climb and one with two options. One involved a rake and another a fox and a tarn. We took the foxes tarn and regretted it as it took a lot longer climbing up a waterfall and up a load of scree. It took ages to get up there. There was an option of not doing this climb and incuring a 1 hour penalty. We did this then had to go up scafell pike again to get back onto the course, taking about 2 and a half hours. At this point we lost Oli and Tim who had gone up the rake.

So, 7 peaks done in about 9 hours, seemed like we were doing well but we were hardly into it yet. The next peak was bloody miles away.

Great Gable, 899 m, was some climb. We could see it in the distance for ages before climbing it. It was here when the estimated finish time went from "guaranteed cow pie" to "no way are we going to get this done before midnight". That made me grumpy. I wanted a cow pie.

Going up Great Gable was hard enough, coming off it was stupid. There was a long line of us scrambling down the scree, trying to stay on our feet but slipping all over the place and kicking rocks down the hill. I though if enough people did this all the rocks would end up on the bottom which would make this a lot easier. I yelled at a rock and told it to fuck off, something I have not done since the Marathon Des Sables a few years back. I had a proper sense of humour failure coming down that hill, we were told at the top that the next checkpoint was only 1k away and it was downhill. Still took us half an hour and at the bottom we were told that after 8 peaks we were still only about half way through the race. Bugger.

The next stop was an epic journey to Pillar, I think the smallest of the peaks but by far the longest hike to get to. We could see it in the distance but it was still over a load of rocks. On the way here we saw Carla Denneny coming the other way who had already down Pillar. I thought she was just ahead but I was not quite prepared for just how far we had to go. We were warned about false peaks on this and we sure did get some of those.

After a load of walking on the flat but still tripping over rocks we headed for the peak in the distance. It drew near and up we went, I commented that at least we were half way up so didn't have to go up a whole peak. It did not seem to make it any easier though and later on their way down we saw Tim and Oli coming off the peak and they told us it's about another half an our to the top. I did not quite believe them as I was pretty sure we were near the top and sure enough about 5 minutes later we were at the top. Of a different peak. Scafel Waterfall

Pillar was way ahead, which meant going down and then back up again. FFS. I was quite grumpy now and my feet were sore from kicking rocks. Itdid indeed take another half an hour to get to the top of the other peak and then back down, back up then back down into the swamp and rocks. They really should have tarmaced this place for some sort of ultra skateboarding event in the Olympics. I think at some point I was resigned to not having anything to eat whenever I crawled back into Keswick later so I texted Gemma to tell her to get me lots of milkshake for the finish. On coming back from Pillar we had a nice section heading to Honiston Pass where we'd get some hot food which we were all looking forward to. Mike had already deicded to drop and I was tempted but the promise of a "nice flat run to Keswick and then only Skidaw left" seemed to keep me in the race.

We got the checkpoint and had a jacket potato and chilli which went down very nice except that we too were getting eaten by the midges. Ben and I waited for about 20 minutes but did not see him come in. He got lost apparently in a dehydrated daze. Ben and I pushed on, and what better way to start the nice flat run into Keswick than with a bloody great big muddy hill.

I think it was a combination of slipping and kicking a rock, really hurting my foot and getting a bounceback from the text message about the milkshake that made me quit. I was done. I fell in love with the idea of getting back to the B&B before midnight and having a normal nights sleep. I felt sorry for Ben who wanted to keep going and I was going to bail on him but I just could not be arsed with this anymore and justified it to myself by saying that I might injure myself on those rocks in the dark and that would make Spartathlon training hard. I really quit because I have become a quitter of late.

So I urged Ben to catch up with a couple of guys in front while I took the road to Keswick. I got back around 11pm and had a cold cow pie waiting for me. I didn't really deserve it but I ate it anyway. The shingle down Great Gable

Ben finished in 23.30, half an hour inside the cut-off having had a miserable time descending Skiddaw with blistered feet. Tim, Oli and Carla finished sometime before. It truely was an apic and difficult event and with perfect weather still a challenge completing inside the cut off. I need to cure my quitters disease before going back but I certainly recommend it.



Serpies Do Davos

just about over the hangoverSo, Dave booked a double with Suzy. But after she dumped him for deleting all the threshold settings on her Garmin he now has to sleep in the dorms with Gary and Carl. But Carl is still pissed at Dave for boffing Sharon at the penultimate cheese day of the month last week. Sharon was due to share with Emma and Stacey but now Stacey wants to share the double with Suzy as she is very upset since her boyfriend Jim left her for Brian, (the fact that he downgraded from the K78 to the lake swim really should have been an early warning). Now, Emma is still holding out for getting back together with Kevin who has just had a massive row with Judith about forgetting to bring a towel. But, wait, oh no.... what's this? Kevin's life has just got a lot more complicated with the unexpected arrival of Amanda and her son Leroy.

"Yes Kevin, I'm back and I have news for you, he's YOURS".

"But we split up 3 years ago, I only met a year before that. This kid is at least 17 years old?"

"Well, what am I? A mathematician? Go book us another room, one that no one has puked in".



There must be something in the air in Switzerland that prevents anyone from sucessfully invading it. We were all over the place and no actual running had even started yet. In total about 70 Serpies invaded the neutral country and occupied it's bars. On saturday there was some running to be done,

The Davos K78 seems to have become an annual event for me. 2 years ago 4 friends and I headed out here, last year there were about 25 people from the club here doing one of the many races Davos has to offer. This time there were about 70 out there to cover over 2500k of alpine trail and around 1000 litres of alcohol.

I arrived late on the first thursday due to being too fat for a plane and ended up missing the thursday night drinking. I decided to make up for it on the Friday, the night before the race. I got a bit carried away and it only realy dawned on me when I was woken up by someone from the hostel offering to clean up the sick. That reminded me that I was sick. I felt pretty rough at the start line but always was going to take this very easy. Only 17 days after finishing Badwater I probably should not be doing this but I needed a medical certificate to get out of it. I could not go and ask a doctor to sign me out of a 50 mile race, particularly as I'd just asked them to permit me to run a 100 mile one 4 weeks after.

The first 20k were pretty grim, I had to stop a few times and felt a bit sick. After a while I felt a little less pissed and was looking forward to the hangover. The mountain should sort that out. I stopped for a minute to empty my shoe and saw a Serpie pass me who I didn't recognise. Inagine that? There was no way I was letting this one go so I ran fast to investigate.

I caught up and it was Laura Beckwith. She was running the C42 and then complained that I was going too fast. Apparently I was doing sub 8 minute miles. I had not done one of those since 2007. I slowed down and eased towards the mountains.

I remember the long road up to the mountains and was confident of finishing it before sunset, unlike the last incline I tackled. There were some spectacular views as we approached the marathon stage and then up to the climbing. I was way behind where I was last year, I recall getting overtaken by most of the people running the K42 whereas now I was in the back end of them. I didn't care at all, I had no idea what the time was as I didn't take a watch, I was just enjoying the day, the new found soberness and the most scenic run I have ever done.

While ascending the mountain I was caught up by Mark Bell. "Feeling a little peaky"? he said as I sat down on a rock (he didn't). "Wanna make summit of it?" I replied (I didn't). "That response is steeped with frustration so I shall press on, but Alpine for you at the finish line". (He did).

The top of the mountain seemed to come more quickly that usual. This pleased be as in the UTMB I have to do this 12 times. I got caught behind a load of walkers on the ridge which was a little frustrating as I felt like I could run and was still suprised that my legs had not fallen apart. Still, can't complain, I took lots of photos and considered making a snowman.

I really did just canter through the whole thing amazed that I could even still walk after Badwater. I cruised through the last 9 miles though I got really bad sunburn (oh the ironicallness). This was the first race in ages where I didn't want to see the finish. Afterall, it was still the same day as when I started. That doesn't really count as a race does it?

Then I got pissed again.

I survive Badwater and then this happens in the mountains?Now, I threatened this in the pub on the Saturday night. This blog allows me to see what has been googled that leads to people arriving on this site. It means I can write silly things about people and they may be seen in the google search screen. Lets see how this goes..

Claire Shelley was high on coke as she bounced her way down into the valley. Luckily she finished before 8, otherwise there would have been trouble.

Nick Copas was bullied off the course by some large pebbles towards the end though still managed to finish sub 8.01.

Jen Bradley stacked it in the mountains, possibly while thinking she was cycling along a canal. Despite needing hospital treatment later she finished in an amazing pb.

While not high on coke Gemma Greenwood hallucinated a familiy of weasels in the mountain.

Natalie Kolodziej smashed the K21, chicking Andrew J Taylor as she did so. Andrew J Taylor didn't just get chicked. Andrew J Taylor got dicked a lot too. In fact Andrew J Taylor probably got chick-with-dicked.

Katy Levy made it to the start line despite flying to the wrong airport.

Helen James finally decided on a pair of shoes (or 2) and ran the K78 brilliantly. When asked if she would do it again she said yes definitely, but will bring more shoes.

Lars Menken promised to run the K78 next year, otherwise we are allowed to melt his bike.

On smashing the K78 and winning the Serpentine Ultra Championship Oliver Sinclair rewarded himself with a potato.

Alex Elferink; a bit confused when he reach the checkpoints and was told he didn't have to take any clothes off kept his heart rate in zone 3 as he walked the K42.

Allan Rumbles, so excited to even be let in a race set off hard and still finished respectably.

2 Serpies who smashed it proper were Wes Harrison and James Edgar. Wes Harrison was apparently grinning like a child as he allowed the mountains to shred his calves. A year ago I met James Edgar and he was baning on about age grading or something. Now he's so into the mountains I bet he does not know what age he even is.

Rob Westaway provided several great shots for the next edition of Westawimes as he cruised through 78K in good time. He did screw up his finish photo by trying to change his garmin settings on the line.

Everyone was amazed to see Sam Ludlow finish something with a clean face.

Cyril Morrin gate crashed the podium for the K78, a little confused as he entered the K21.

I've already google-fucked Jonathan Hoo, but thought just saying that might make the search results more interesting.

Despite being strip searched for contraband sandwiches at breakfast Brent Plump and Marianna Ivantsoff managed to have great races.

As did Facebook facebook Jany Tsai Facebook Facebook. Jany managed to avoid ripping off my clothes as she finished comfortably.

Happiest man in the world Alex Pearson praised the heavens for such wonderful calf smashing mountains.

Mike "Mr Slow" Wilcox was not that slow. World he was awesome.

Gemma Hagen was so excited by the whole thing she couldn't talk the next day.

And without having much else to say about everyone else I thought I'd list the rest involved in the great weekend. There were K78 finishes for Martin Cooper and Lisa Wray. A great K42 win for Huw Lobb in an amazing 3.16. K42 finsihes also for Gavin Edmonds, Poppy Lenton, Charles Lescott, Pam Rutherford, Christian Schroeder, Tim Renshaw, Claire Levermore (google her), Rob Crangle, Siobhan Reddy, Tanya Shaw (who proposed to on the mountain top. She said yes), Val Metcalf, Alistair Gear, John Cullinane, Katy Levy (I have already mentioned her but she is quite loud) and Natalie Vendette. There was a great K31 win for Teresa Gailliard De Laubenque (that took ages to write) and good runs too from Simon Bamfylde, Darren Over, Donna Clinker, Huw Keene (doing actual running but I didn't see it), Catherine Sowerby, Angharad Lescott, Lula Russo, Grianne Devery, Fiona Alexander and Angela Green. As always with Davos it was great to see people come out anyway even if they didn't run. Our cheerleaders this time were Gus Searcy (ill), Richard Jones (injured), Paula Redmond (injured) and Amy Whiddett (lazy). Worth a mention was our pom pom waver in spirit Nicole Brown, who was updating the folks at home with our progress and telling me off for facebooking too much in the race. Thanks Mum.

The weekend certainly had it's ups and downs (STOP IT). This time last year I said that I thought 100 Serpies go to Davos. We only managed 70 this year but who knows? Next year. Assuming the hostel has forgotten about the sick.