A few people have asked me to do a write up of how my round went this past weekend (Feb 15th), so here goes.


With 72 hours to go, I made the decision to bring my attempt forward a day, after the temporary addition of rain to the Saturday night forecast. Which ended up being a great move, because if I wasn't going to get to do it in proper winter conditions, i might as well (however unintentionally) pick the worst conditions I could for my first round! Seriously though, I thought i'd picked a great forecast. Luckily, most of my original supporters were still game. So, after a couple more pleas to strangers on the interwebs, and a friend offering to drive three and a half hours each way to help, I had my Leg support in place. 7 total strangers, and a friend had all agreed to run around the Lakes with me. We (my Dad and I, whom I so graciously volunteered to be my road support) drove up on Friday afternoon, after a handful of failed attempts to get a bit of extra sleep before kickoff. Ah well. I always assumed I was quite good at the whole sleep deprivation thing anyway. I met up with my Leg 1 support at 21:45 and got some well wishes from a group of pub goers whilst waiting out front of Moot Hall.


Leg 1, 10pm. With Steve Jones, Paul Wilson.


It was just a tad breezy going up Skiddaw. With a brief respite whilst going round Little Man that let us hear our thoughts and walk in a straight line again. I hit snow for the first time towards the gate coming off Skiddaw, it lasted all of about 6 steps, and sadly, that was about it for the snow on my round. Great Calva came and went with little trouble, though a pattern of poor visibility and deafening wind on the tops was emerging. Up Mungrisdale Common, we hit the White Cross and went for a wander over to Sharp Edge first, did a quick U-turn tagging the summit of Blencathra, then turning to go down Doddick. This is Doddick right? Right? Wrong. Realizing we'd overshot, we took a pause in an attempt to orient ourselves. Before the wind blew us off our feet again. Screw it. Down Scales Fell it is. Goats Crag wasn't the scramble I expected to do coming off Blencathra. Coming in to Threkeld in 4 hours 5 minutes left me feeling pretty bad, but for the sole reason of it dawning on me my ETA's for everyone else would be way off and they'd be waiting around for a total stranger in the dark and cold. Luckily, they all knew what they'd signed up.


Leg 2, 02:05. With Paul Johnson, Daryl Tacon


2 minutes in Threlkeld, and we were off. I got acquainted with Paul and Daryl on the way over to Clough Head. Whether I said it out loud or not, I was still naively of the mindset Id make up the lost time from Leg 1 and not have anyone else waiting longer for me. I wasn't going to let the fact it was the middle of the night, blowing a gale, and we were staying up high, exposed on the Dodds, stop me. Not even when the 3 of us, without saying a word, and perfectly in sync, dropped to the ground after nearly getting blown of our feet again somewhere around Raise. I was still very much of the illusion (delusion?) I could match my previous recce'd times for each leg, despite them being done in perfect weather 3 months ago. I was very much just a follower by this point though, not paying much attention to the navigation aspect of it. Leaving it down to Paul and Daryl to guide me. Thankfully, they pulled over behind the stone windbreak atop Helvellyn. Soaked to the bone and with dead hands, within seconds of sitting down I started shivering almost uncontrollably. They helped me put another wind shirt on, get some hand warmers in my mitts. There, we decided not to stick on the direct path to the top, but to stay on less exposed ground when we could. Smart. Expecting Grizedale Tarn to be our next break from the wind, we pushed on.

Now, with this being my return to running after 14 months of IT band and knee troubles, big descents still scared me. The uphills felt great, but coming down Dollywagon, Fairfield, and Seat Sandal consecutively was slow and tentative going. The promise of getting to the car at Dunmail Raise for orange juice and salty foods (or at least not more of the sugary bars Id been eating) helped spur me on, as did cresting over Seat Sandal and eventually seeing some car lights down below.

After the battering we'd just taken from the weather, at some point on that leg Id finally stopped thinking about my previous splits, and was just stoked to still be feeling good and moving well.


Leg 3, 06:30. With Tim Campbell, Matt Dunn


I spent slightly longer on the change over here, a whopping 7 minutes, but still forgot to introduce myself to Tim and Matt until a third of the way up Steel Fell. I forget my orange juice too. Damn it. I was beating myself up about that all the way til Calf Crag, when headlamps finally came off. Whilst still pretty breezy, there was no longer a risk of us getting blown off our feet which made for a nice change. I started singing Gaslight Anthem lyrics in my head at this point, having read Ally Bevans "Not the Bob Graham" report a few times. I was also paranoid about missing the proper summits of Sergeant Man or High Raise and was happy to get those ticked off uneventfully. So happy in fact, we approached Billy's Rake having skipped past the summit of Rossett Pike and had to turn around to tag that one.

Atop Bowfell was the first person I saw not related to my round, and between here and Wasdale were the only other people I saw all day. It was almost as if gale force winds had put people off going up to the tops today! The Scafell plateau was slow going though. Awful, slippery, wet rock and boulder hopping everywhere. One of my hand warmers had stopped working somewhere around here, so I had one lovely warm hand, and one numb, zombie hand. Oh, that's the joys of having Raynauds. I was hoping to take Lords Rake up Scafell, but after trying, we couldn't see it and I was getting concerned about whether 24 hours was still possible, so we quickly opted for Foxes Tarn instead. Though looking back at the GPS data, we turned off the gully too early and didn't actually make it to the Tarn. The scree shoot off Scafell was nice on the legs, but I got to watch on as one of my supporters (Sorry Tim, sorry Matt, I can't remember who was in front at this point) ran down it the way real fell runners run downhill and I felt grossly inadequate.

Towards the end of the leg, and coming in to Wasdale, I was starting to have a couple minor issues. I was either chaffing or numb in the about two thirds of the nether regions department. It also might be noteworthy to point out, somewhere around Broad Crag, my eyes decided they'd had enough of the wind and gave in to wind blindness. For the remainder of my round I was relying mainly on my right eye to do the seeing side of things. In my left eye, I could see out the peripheral but looking forward was a blur.

Leg 4, 13:07. With Drew Wilson


I took a proper break for 18 minutes here, on account of needing to shove food in my face, change shoes, tights, lube up, and the whole "one eye not working" thing. Yewbarrow isn't my favourite of the big climbs, but I had mistakenly convinced myself Dalehead didn't count. So, this would be the last big climb, then it would be smooth sailing here on out. I'd conveniently forgotten about Red Pike. And Kirk Fell. And Great Gable. Coming off Pillar was the only big view off the day. So i was pleased it was on my favourite section of the round, looking back over Yewbarrow/Red Pike whilst running in to Black Sail Pass before going up Kirk Fell. I picked my start time wanting to be off the next section over Great Gable before it got dark again, and despite being way behind where I thought I'd be, I didn't have to put my headlamp on again 'til Grey Knotts. I've never had to use a headlamp twice in the same run before, so that was a new one.

From the top of Grey Knotts I cautiously picked my way down the (bloody stupid, awful, slow, wet, rocky) wall descent to Honister. Doing this bit in the dark again, still with only the one fully functioning eye, was less than ideal. I could see a jarringly bright headlamp and wondered who else would be stupid enough to be running out in the tops in this weather. Really. Who else would be stupid enough to do that? So, of course it had to be my Leg 5 support, Mr. Les Barker! The bright light was trying to signal to me to cross over the fence lines, so I'd get to run down the grassy banks instead. If only I could read headlamp messages, that would have saved me a lot of time cursing at the rocks.