Chasing the 12 hour time of a fifty year old was never going to happen; too fast for me?
But come last summer, I told Hilary Barber that I was thinking of a 15 hour Joss. Hilary, and then Ros Blackmore, said they wanted to do it, as well. So they're to blame ... although neither looks old enough.
An infected tick bite and two months of feeling bad put paid to last years attempt, so now it was time to stop procrastinating and get it done. Weekends are busy work time for me, and a mid-week date would give quieter fells and I wanted to keep the run small and informal. I simply told Ros and Hilary they either had to do it with me or pace, so that was sorted. I'd been busy 'working' in Scotland and the Hebrides, with some slow days in very heavy terrain and wasn't feeling confident at all. With the summer months passing quickly and a 'iffy' forecast, all the last minute arrangements were made sat on the ferry coming back from Benbecula two days before.
A quick post on facebook for a few willing pacers and all was set. Berni Gilmartin would lead me off from Pooley, Ros volunteered Neil Bowmer for Leg two, Kirkstone to Dummail and Scott Newburn kindly filled the gap to Styhead where the wimpy Ros and Hilary had been bullied to do the glory leg.
The rumours that Matt Neale and Jim Mann would come for a pre work, and post UTMB recovery jog respectively were true, so four of us set off 'when ready' in calm weather. It's just a shame I hadn't sussed the way out of the fields in the dark.
I was lucky with the weather all day; light NW winds, dry, dry-ish underfoot and good banter. Easy pace to Kirkstone, Berni providing positive time checks and puffing a bit carrying all the gear. Good Lad, Berni.
I'd taken the 15 hour schedule off the JNC page, added a few minutes to the early leg and hoped to be on schedule by the later stages and gain a little if I could.
Ros had a brew waiting at Kirkstone and Neil loaded himself up with the gear and food. He
was most upset when I only ate one piece of malt loaf, but Leg Two is all ups and downs so no flat cruisy ground to eat on. I can't eat going uphill anymore - too busy breathing!
Dunmail came really easily. I'd decided that I need to relax and run well on the downs, although it seems any ascent beginning with the letter 's' is a steep sod.
Boss Lady Charmian Heaton was waiting at Dunmail, along with her partner Steve Wathall who'd come along for the remainder. Scott Newburn was official pacer as far as Bowfell, but we picked up Young Phil Wilkinson on High Raise who'd lead us to Styhead and the dream team of Ros and Hilary.
Scott peeled off at Stake Pass to run back via the Langdale Pikes and we three, me, The Old Master Steve and the Youngster (Phil is only 30 ....I did a BG before he was born) found Rossett via three slightly different routes, then climbed Bowfell well by the latest 'fastest line' (Yeah, right!)
Bowfell is a milestone and turning point just as it is on a Bob Graham; you've gained the higher Central fells and head North over Esk Pike and Great End, then Styhead and Gable. A few spots of rain led to nothing and the forecasted showers never really materialised or at least went around us.
I hadn't specifically reccied any of the lines despite being Lakes based but was confident that we wouldn't get lost. Phil The Younger was leading OK ( he'll learn ...) and we took the direct line North off Great End, if only because it's what Joss would have wanted.
Styhead - Five Stars on Trip Adviser
Naturally, Ros, Hilary and Neil were ready at Styhead Box with a fine selection of food and replete we four started a very social plod up Gable.
It's just a month or so since I did this last in the Borrowdale fell race and this time it seemed easy. We topped out surprisingly quickly and I was by now gaining time on each summit and around 30 minutes up on 14:40 schedul
The showers held off, and were blessed with good views over Pillar, Scoat and Steeple. Haycock was a delight and Steve found such a good line off even he was surprised!
The last 'S', Seatallan had me puffing and allowed Ros to finally break out the much offered sweeties. Looking at my watch properly for the first time, I thought it would be rude not to push for sub 14 hours with a nice run over to Middlefell and a surprisingly easy descent.
It really is a great descent - you can see Wastwater as you leave Middlefell summit but then the finish kindly comes nearer as you descend towards Greendale, first seeing your supporters cars, then the bridge itself. It must have been agony for Mandy Goth chasing her 14 hour deadline, but I was lucky with time in hand.
My friend Richard had walked out just to make sure we turned right down the beck and didn't get lost then suddenly it's over, I'm at The Bridge with Neil, Phil, Charmian, Carol, Linz and of course Joss.
My friends, Richard and Carol, are near neighbours of Joss and had booked a table at The Strand ...so it was off the the pub for the remainder of a simply brilliant day. Thank You, everyone, for your help during the day and for your kind donations to 'Fix-the-Fells' via JustGiving