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Ullswater Way & Challenge 2017

Race, or steady pace, the Ullswater Way Challenge has something for everyone!

Last year saw the inaugural event around the newly established Ullswater Way, with 180 people enjoy some, or all of the 24 mile route.  Everyone had a great time, although some found it a bit tougher than they imagined as not all of it is nice flat lakeside trails, as some of the media photos portray!  Suffice to say, those who choose to get a 'Steamer' back down the Lake were both wise and reward by great views of Ullswater.

2017 Tweaks

This year we are repeating the event, but with a few tweaks and a change of direction. 

For 2017, we'll be going clockwise around the lake instead, so if you 'only did the first half .... and it was amazing' last year, now you can do the same again and do the other half, and it's a win-win!

We are also offering two options - Ullswater Way 20 or  Ullswater Challenge 24.  Both routes share the same route to Glenridding at around halfway, and then they split. The UW20 route stays low and uses the 'new NT' lakeside path to Aira Force Cafe. This is by far the easier option as it's flatter and very much parallel with the road and lakeshore.

The UC24 will head up to Greenside and over into Glencoyne, traversing on the higher level fell path to Dockray.   This includes the stunning views down the lake and as well as some 'technical single-track' that many will enjoy.  The UC24 route will continue over Gowbarrow summit, and join the UW20 route at The Old Shoot Lodge. 

For an idea of the routes take a look at the excellent FoUW website, which gives you some general maps and information on the heritage and artworks.

The Ullswater Way signage

The Ullswater Way signage

The start and finish will be in Pooley Bridge. You can start anytime between 8am and 10am, so no mass start, 'elbows out' or traffic worrying malarkey. 

The exact start arrangements will be confirmed in the next few weeks as I'm awaiting confirmation as to useage of the Memorial Hall and/or maybe the Sun Inn, as last year, but it will be somewhere in the village.  All will be confirmed in due course, plus you'll get 'Final Details' by email via the entries system of course. Entries are already open and places are limited, so please don't miss out. If you are undecided on which route is for you, don't worry as you can 'edit your entry' at a later date and change from one to the other.  We will also allow you to do this at the Glenridding CP during the event if needed.

The Ullswater Way route is waymarked with the UW 'roundel' shown above.  We'll be adding a few small orange NAV4 arrows and a few safety tech staff at key points, but it is an easy route to follow. We'll give out carefully written route notes (large text and accurate) and have commissioned a special UW&C map.  No-one should fear getting lost!

Is it a race? 

No, not really, but more of a time trial for those whom speed and time matters.

Time-trial, training or just a good day out - the choice is yours

Time-trial, training or just a good day out - the choice is yours

We take our responsibilities seriously,  so naturally we will time you out and back in again, so everyone will have a 'finisher's time'. And we'll be accounting for you at the various Checkpoints around the routes. Everyone is welcome, walkers, runners, ramblers, as long as you are all tolerant of each other and aim to have a good day out.

Not really typical - UW24 will be going up this time!

Not really typical - UW24 will be going up this time!

All we ask is that those who are slowest and want and need more go early soon after 8am, whilst the speedy runners go much later around 10am. 

Why? We'll it is logical and spreads everyone out.  It also makes it all a lot easier for us to manage as the finishing 'window' isn't so long, and generally open shorter hours. This means a lot for the volunteers helping you all day. 

Our Ethos

We keep things simple, clean and green.  Don't expect unnecessary 'bling, music or a fanfare at the start or finish.  Do expect a great day out, plenty of fun, banter, brews, cake and...

There will be shuttle bus with pick ups from local villages and venues, including Penrith Station and town centre.  We are hoping to resource free parking in Penrith with shuttle bus service to the start. There will also be secure bike parking at the event venue - ride a few miles from home or your B&B?

Heading to Howtown from The Cockpit

Heading to Howtown from The Cockpit

Checkpoints are likely to be at Howtown, Side Farm / Patterdale, Glenridding, Dockray and Aira Force, Watermillock or Bennetthead.  Each will supply a minimum of cold drinks, plus some hot drinks and tasty nibbles. You'll be able to fill your water bottles at each checkpoint and we'll be providing you with special souvenir mug at registration for you to use on route. 

A year or so on, the basic route is now well established and the Friends of Ullswater Way have done a remarkable job of installing eight art structures around the route, with more planned.  We will be donating some money to continue the work and to help with general footpath maintenance, but you can also add optional donations to Fix-the-Fells and National Trust that you can 'tick' when signing up.

Ok, I think that's just about it for now; I'll write updates as and when, and 'Final Details' will be sent to all participants a week before the event.  Check out our facebook event page to share FAQ's, comments, offer lifts or accommodation or whatever.  This is a low-key, community led event so please get involved.

Want to help out?

We do need so volunteers to make the day work smoothly.  Helping at a checkpoint is an excellent way to put something back in to the event. Or, perhaps you can help before with offering a checkpoint venue, minibus or... whatever.  

If you can please get in touch with me, Joe via email - nav4adventure@gmail.com

Many thanks, Joe.

Joe Faulkner
Dragons Back Race - Again! Why?

This has been the 'FAQ' that I've been asked frequently over the past few months.  Even today, someone expressed surprise that I was running not working. Perhaps it's because I'm behind the scenes at many races rather than 'racing', or just my increasing bulk and decreasing speed.

It got increasingly worrying when my sanity appear to be in question, and I spent the winter months thinking hard trying to find a good reason not to take part.  I certainly don't want to be the 'fat old git' at the back, arriving late each evening.  But I can cope being the slightly fat chap finishing in the middle of the pack. .

There is a bit of a song and dance about me doing a fourth DBR in twenty five years, but I don't see it as a big deal.  I'm just lucky that I was around in 1992 (just coming into my fell racing prime, actually) and I'm still active now ...and can get fired up for the right occasion.

Last time, in DBR 2015, someone put a camera in front of me as I trundled South on Day Three.


Q: 'What keeps you motivated?' they asked.  My immediate thought was 'wtf' that's a bit of a stupid question and I struggled for a reply.  'er..don't know really..? Somewhere on Youtube there is 27 secs of riveting video. 

I trundled on. To be fair, I didn't realise they were filming and I was just in my own enjoyable space and have trouble wasting energy on smiling.

A: But, it is just about keeping moving, and enjoying it.  Walking and running down Wales for five days - what's not to like?  No laptop, no work commitments, no Wifi - no phone signal.  It's not a joke or cliche, I'm looking forward to a holiday.

Q: 'But surely it's a bus men's holiday for you? 
A:  Maybe. I'm happy to muck in and help with the event team and I'm not tolerant of prima donnas who expect everything done for them, but first and foremost I going to enjoy some 'TFM' and the j-o-u-r-n-e-y! Eek.

I've also been fortunate to spend some quality hill-time out with fellow Dragoneers recently.  It's been a pleasure and honour to offer my own advice and support to them but it's two-way street and I've reaped support from them, too.  I'm looking forward to spending some quiet time with a few friends, both old and new. but equally so I'm fearful of the hype and egos. 

So. no reason not to do it again - I'm not as old as Facebook thinks I am - and twenty-five years is now't.  I know of two people who are have done events for 30+ years or more, year in year out.  A few years ago, I went to a lecture by a guy who had done every London Marathons. He'd done like 28 at the time, and he was the youngest to do so, so clearly had his sights set on being the 'last man standing'.  Generally people were in awe, but I remember asking him, 'Have you ever thought about choosing NOT to do it?'  The question led to a uneasy pause in the room.

This 4/4 DBR is nothing special. 

Steve Redgrave's five consecutive Gold medals is special Katherine Grainger's Olympic record special too.  Casper and Katie's joint BGR is special, and in a DBR context Helene's fourth place in 2012, twenty years on from winning was very impressive along with Jim Mann's run that year.

Q: What changes have you seen over the years?

Not a lot really,  The distance and terrain is much the same.  There are good mountain running performances from well prepared mountain runners. A growth in the event infrastructure, of course. Sadly, in recent years, a greater proportion of people getting out of their depth ... and some high expectations from a demanding race community and media.

A Personal Potted History

1992 - Fit, Young and Ambitious.
Quietly confident but enjoying racing just behind my role models, heroes and leading runners of the day. Sadly, my partner Steve Dubie put his foot down a rabbit hole on the last afternoon and so we lost several hours as he hobbled with severe cruciate ligament damage.  We missed the Saturday morning presentation as we sat in A&E in Cardiff, I remember driving home to Cumbria, non-stop, with a bit of a sulk on.

2102 - Very Fit, Not-so-Young, Tired.
But a bit tired and battered from a week's AR Exped race the week before. Shane's extra special Day One was tough, we dug deep, I nursed my battered body efficiently to the finish,  Overjoyed, yet a little jealous of Helene's 4th place performance, it was an evening of very mixed emotions as we waited for Wendy Dodds to finish late in the evening.   And all a bit of a head mash, as I'd got some tragic news as phoned home, just after the finish line.   A week later another tragedy.

2015 -  Fit Enough, Getting Older and Wiser. Try Again.  
So, this is the last time? Let's get it right and finish on a high, please.  Finished strongly, enjoyed all but five minutes, but perhaps under-achieved. Bugger...!

2017 - Not Dead Yet - let's have fun.

2019 - tbc....fit enough to take part, or working on the event side which is harder?

Have fun, everyone.

Joe.

Joe Faulkner