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Thread: Darren’s - JNLC

  1. #1

    Darren’s - JNLC

    Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge: Darren Fishwick (M50) 12th September 2020.


    The Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge traverses 30 summits whilst covering a distance of 48 miles and climbing 17,000 feet. The Joss is often regarded as a Bob Graham for the older generation, as all contenders must be at least 50 years old. Upon completion of the challenge: a schedule sheet signed by a supporter from each leg, a receipt from a charity donation and the age category of the contender are a few of the requirements needed before an attempt is formally validated. Once all the boxes are ticked the new member will receive an engraved tankard at the annual Presentation Dinner - what a fantastic incentive. I’ll drink to that...cheers!

    Whenever I’d spoken to family and friends outside the running community about my intentions of attempting the Joss, I wasn’t surprised by the general feedback. Basically, the majority said “you must be bloody mad, have you nowt else better to do at your age”. I suppose that unless you’re a fellrunner, it’s a concept that’s hard to comprehend and those who question why we do these things wouldn’t understand. I guess, “people will try and put us down, just because we get around. I’m not trying to cause a big sensation, I’m just talking my generation”.

    There was a time I had the same age related misconceptions...

    Many years ago I worked with a bloke called Clifford. Through my naive adolescent eyes, I looked upon him as being a doddering old bugger. I thought he was ancient, he was even older than my parents, he must’ve been at least 50. In my defence, Clifford was as equally judgemental towards myself. Through his bifocal spectacles, he looked upon me as being nothing but a nuisance. For he was the master and I was the apprentice. From day one our working relationship was tarnished, based solely on first impressions. Clifford conducted himself with negativity whenever in my presence, he couldn’t help but take offence at my unkempt mane of long dark hair - he considered it a health and safety risk within the workplace. I was told that unless I had it cut to a reasonable length, I’d be sarcastically known as ‘Sweetheart’. Undeterred by verbal bribery and in homage to heavy metal, my mane remained, albeit tied back into a ponytail - only adding fuel to Clifford’s fire. He was true to his word and when teaching me the art of carpentry would never miss an opportunity to say, “watch and learn Sweetheart, watch and learn”. I’d retaliate by shortening his name to Cliff, as he found this presumptuous and irritating. One particular day I was instructed to get cakes for the lads from the works canteen. I duly obliged and on my return I placed the sweet baked goods at the end of my workbench. My colleagues were all thankful, except Clifford, who demanded I hand delivered his cake - I point blank refused. He bellowed out, “Sweetheart bring me my cake”. I remained firm and stuck to my guns, to the increasing annoyance of Clifford. Eventually he reluctantly made a move towards my bench, where upon his arrival I smashed his cake to smithereens with my mallet. To say he wasn’t happy is an understatement, I thought he was going to have an aneurysm. In an act of role reversal I simply said, “calm down Sweetheart, you’ll get your knickers in a twist”. Clifford exploded with rage and chased me into the machine shop, where he promptly ‘kicked the shit out of me’ - back in the 80’s this was considered reasonable behaviour. To give Clifford some credit, I didn’t expect someone of his age to move so fast. Moral to the story: age is but a number, it’s attitude and determination that really counts.

    On the morning of 28th December 2019, I initially thought I’d awoken to the sight of my wife gazing adoringly in my direction. My illusion was shattered the moment Alison said, “when are you gonna use the nose and ear trimmer I bought you for Christmas?”. And a good morning to you, I replied. She then congratulated me on my 50th birthday and asked how does it feel to be officially old? I shrugged and asked how does it feel to be in bed with an old man? Touché...was her swift reply. When later surveying the unwanted hair growth protruding from my nostrils, we discussed various factors synonymous with the ageing process. Sagging skin is a particular concern, but I’m sure that when the time arrives we’ll soon get to grips with low hanging testicles and swinging breasticles. Unsurprisingly, we both came to the same conclusion - it’s shit getting old. However, at least I can now attempt a Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge.

    The night before my attempt I had an early one, I didn’t even stay up to watch Gardeners’ World - apparently Monty Don reaped the harvest of his vegetable patch. Usually Friday night is a favourite time of day because Monday feels so far away. I more often than not sleep really well in anticipation for the weekend. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep particularly well, I was nervously excited about my imminent attempt at the Joss. Unlike Monty’s vegetables, I wasn’t rejuvenated, especially when the alarm sounded at the ungodly hour of 2 am. In my sleepy state I’d not accounted for the hazards involved when carrying breakfast in both hands whilst turning on a wall mounted light switch with my chin. A wayward strand from my beard had become entangled within the switch, causing me to jump back startled. Potential disaster involving a bowl of porridge and a large steaming hot mug of coffee was miraculously averted by sheer luck over skill - thankfully bare flesh was spared from the scolding spillage. After informing Alison of the near miss she seemed more concerned about the potential damage towards the living room carpet.

    We finally arrived at Pooley Bridge two and a half hours after leaving home. It feels like I’ve obtained a repetitive strain injury after waving a frustrated clenched fist at the abundance of traffic diversions. Pooley Bridge resembled a building site due to the construction work surrounding the much anticipated new bridge. I said to Alison, “how long does it take to build a bloody bridge?”. Seemingly, not as long as it’s taking me to redecorate our conservatory. Thirty minutes before my 6 am scheduled start and the village car park started filling up. Keswick’s Craig Smith and supporters were in attendance, they left at 5:45am for Craig’s successful sub 12hrs attempt...well done pal, you absolutely smashed it. Ambleside’s Gary Thorpe and supporters were also present. Along with my supporters the car park became a hive of activity whilst everyone made last minute preparations. My positive demeanour is a mask for the nervousness hidden deep within as recent recce runs drew attention to the fast pace required for a sub 12hrs completion.
    Darren Fishwick, Chorley.

  2. #2
    Leg 1 - Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass 16 miles 3000ft
    Supporters - Mark Irving, Tim Ripper & Mae the dog.

    Head torches were removed before the start but I leave my jacket on, I hope I still feel the benefit once out of the village and onto the fells. We’re joined by Gary and his supporters. It’s a relentlessly fast pace and every split on my 11hrs 57mins schedule are being comfortably met. Gary’s navigator Billy Idol (sorry I mean Dan Duxbury, it’s an easy mistake to make) says he’s never been involved in a Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge Race before. It certainly felt that way as Gary and myself ticked off the 12 summits along the route. Tim’s navigation was faultless, Mae the dog made it look effortless and my mate Mark was priceless.
    Time taken on leg - 2hrs 38mins.

    Leg 2 - Kirkstone Pass to Dunmail Raise 8 miles 3200ft
    Supporters - Guy Illingworth & Harvey Lord.

    Alison served me Tomato soup then promptly said, “stop chatting and get it down, you’ve not time to be faffing about it’s not your Bob Graham”. My wife’s instructions where still ringing in my ears as I noticed how quick the pace remained whilst climbing Red Scees. Harvey leads us on a great line off the summit, Guy and myself talked about our shared interest in the veteran English rock band UFO. When running down towards Grisedale Tarn, Harvey regaled us with the legendary tale of Dunmail - the King of Cumberland. His crown resides in the murky depths of the Tarn and whoever retrieves it will be crowned the new King. I didn’t have time for a mythical treasure hunt but Guy and Harvey had already made me feel like royalty.
    Time taken on leg - 1hr 52mins.

    Leg 3 - Dunmail Raise to Sty Head 11 miles 4900ft
    Supporters - Carl Bell & James Harris.

    Alison served me beans, delicately sprinkled with grated cheese - fine dining par excellence! Recently whilst on a recce with Carl, he started running up Steel Fell. I enquired what he was doing, he said “I’m just tapping away, I find it easier than walking”. I reeled him in and explained that at my level we don’t ‘tap away’ up steep hills, we walk...he laughed and ‘tapped away’ at my walking pace. During this leg I started to struggle with fatigue, especially over the boggy ground from Steel Fell to Rossett Pike. Both Carl and James had noticed and kept me going by discretely increasing the pace whenever needed. However, I envisaged the safety net gained on the early legs was fraying fast. I tried to remain positive but I’m left thinking, “this positive thinking malarkey is shit”...which kinda defeated the object. Thankfully once on the rougher ground between Bowfell and Great End I started feeling more at home. It’s during this leg I noticed Gary and his supporters started pulling away. Gary eventually completed his Joss a few minutes before me - well done pal.
    Time taken on leg - 3hrs 32mins.

    Leg 4 - Sty Head to Greendale Bridge 13 miles 5000ft
    Supporters - Carl Bell & James Harris.

    No stopping, I go straight into the climb up Great Gable. Carl and James have saved me a logistical nightmare by continuing onto the next leg. Carl continues to ‘tap away’ up the climbs whilst leading the way. James continues by my side offering food and drink. Great to see Craig Stansfield whilst we descended Gable, unfortunately I’ve not time for a chat but Craig understands. We came down the gully coming off Kirk Fell where I grazed my hand slightly. My next bag of Hula Hoops metaphorically rubs salt into my wound and it stings like billy-ho. Whilst making our way to Pillar I looked at my watch and thought, “blimey Karl Grey would be finished by now”. (Karl broke the record a few weeks ago - approximately 9hrs 30mins) A highlight of this leg was going down the scree coming off Haycock, even though I ended up carrying half the hillside inside my shoes....it literally gave me a much needed spring in my step. On the final climb up Middle Fell, I asked Carl if supporting me had brought back memories of the time he helped pace Kilian Jornet on his record breaking Bob Graham? Apparently I was miles faster. James nodded his head in agreement and we all laughed. That’s what your supporters are there for, to keep up your spirits. They certainly did, in abundance!
    Time taken on leg - 3hrs 40mins. Overall time - 11hrs 42mins...beltin!

    At the finish my wife greeted me with a heartfelt hug. Alison whispered into my ear, “your dad would be proud”. It was only 3 weeks to the day that my dad passed away following a recent illness. During this difficult time I found solace whilst on training runs but felt like I hadn’t done nowhere near enough running in the hills. Completing the Joss, especially under the circumstances feels extra special. Many thanks to each and every one of my amazing supporters for making it happen - especially Alison for always being incredible.

    Finally, thanks to the great man himself Joss Naylor for turning up. He’d even prepared a gift at the finish - influenced by a photograph I’d posted a few weeks ago. Referring to the photograph, I’d heard that cold water immersion can aid muscle recovery following exercise. I had a brainwave whereby I customised one of our household recycling bins and turned it into a cold water treatment facility. I added Fairy Original as it’s the gold standard of washing-up liquids and unsurprisingly it coped admirably with bin residue. I then added rubber ducks for company after my wife refused to join me...in no uncertain terms. Apparently Joss loved the photograph and filled his own bin for me to submerge my tired legs at the finish. My leg one supporter Tim Ripper’s daughter supplied the rubber duck. Thanks to Charmain for showing Joss my photograph, I doubt he participates in Facebook. I don’t participate in hero worship, but for Joss...I make an exception!

    So there you go, a somewhat unorthodox view on the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge. I’ve not tried to cause a big sensation, I’ve just been talking about my generation, for this is my generation, baby!

    Who’s next?

  3. #3
    Master GeoffB's Avatar
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    Excellent report, as ever, Darren. And I know what you mean about hero worship.

    Just 22 minutes quicker than my time! Hmm... not my finest day on the fells!

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffB View Post
    Excellent report, as ever, Darren. And I know what you mean about hero worship.

    Just 22 minutes quicker than my time! Hmm... not my finest day on the fells!
    Oh blimey Geoff
    If my calculations are correct, you were 12hrs 4mins? Have you had any more attempts?

  5. #5
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    Top quality writing, again. Must have taken you longer to write it than it did to run it!

    Keep up the good work

  6. #6
    Moderator noel's Avatar
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    Sounds a great day out TS. Nice report as always.
    No longer "resting"

  7. #7
    Thanks guys

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tindersticks View Post
    I leave my jacket on, I hope I still feel the benefit once out of the village and onto the fells.
    My mother says you're a very foolish young man and she hopes you didn't catch a chill but that, if you did, it's your own fault.

    But when she went on Facebook later and saw the photo of you "messing about and showing off in a stolen dustbin with an older man who should have known better" she said that if I ever did anything like that I'd get my legs slapped, and that if I ever saw you while I was playing out on the fells I was to move away from you and not talk to you. When I said that you'd be the one moving away from me, much faster than I could go, she told me not to talk back. I now have to wait until my dad gets home, apparently.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Flem View Post
    My mother says you're a very foolish young man and she hopes you didn't catch a chill but that, if you did, it's your own fault.

    But when she went on Facebook later and saw the photo of you "messing about and showing off in a stolen dustbin with an older man who should have known better" she said that if I ever did anything like that I'd get my legs slapped, and that if I ever saw you while I was playing out on the fells I was to move away from you and not talk to you. When I said that you'd be the one moving away from me, much faster than I could go, she told me not to talk back. I now have to wait until my dad gets home, apparently.
    Brilliant!
    Darren Fishwick, Chorley.

  10. #10
    Master GeoffB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tindersticks View Post
    Oh blimey Geoff
    If my calculations are correct, you were 12hrs 4mins? Have you had any more attempts?
    Yep, that's right. I went away and had my ankle fused (pesky arthritis) then came back as a V55 and cruised around in 13 hours 10 minutes. Much better!

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