After a British champs race in Ireland that was described by runners as “like going into a dark room to look for a black cat that wasn’t there” “a spirograph for your Garmin” and “foggy chaos”, the day dawned bright on 3rd May for the English champs race at Coniston. Runners lined up in the sun, swapping stories about the recces they’d done in the weeks before in howling gales and torrential downpours. After 60-odd consecutive days of rain in the area, most hadn’t even bothered looking at the rough route off Coniston Old Man down through the mine workings, with its rocky pits and upturned girders. When pellets of rain are blasting your eyeballs it doesn’t seem like a good idea. But it turned out a belter. Even the Mountain Rescue boys were kicking back with a few pints of Bluebird ale having forgotten where the keys to the helicopter were.
A good turnout from Pudsey, and we set off on the Miners’ Track going carefully over the cattle grid to avoid being trampled in the rush. On the long slog up to Wetherlam, Rob Hope was setting the early pace. Lots of small route choices meant the field split up quickly, trying to gain a small advantage at every turn. In my case this meant doing lots of hard graft to pass runners on a hard climb, only to see them somehow emerge ahead again from an unseen trod. Still, you can’t get dispirited when Coniston and all the surrounding fells are laid out in front of you on a day like that. Even the locals were surprised when they could see from the top of the Old Man.
The descent off the Old Man was an incredible scramble with runners all over the place. Rob and Tom Addison were neck and neck coming into the final stretch. Being Pudsey’s answer to Colin Jackson, Rob dodged a style and hurdled the final fence like a gazelle. Sadly Tom was just too quick, and Rob finished a strong second by one second for the second year running.
Vicky Wilkinson knocked over 3 minutes off the women’s record to win in 1.17.11. Last year’s winner Darren had a good run in 5th, with Danny, John and Ian making up the team. Claire, Rachel and Caroline made up the women’s team, with Dave, Niall, Pete and me also out. Graham provided welcome shouts of encouragement on the home stretch.
Rob Hope 2nd 1.07.58
Danny Kay 5th 1.10.25
Danny Hope 17th 1.13.05
John Heneghan 33rd 1.15.00
Ian Nixon 34th 1.15.20
David Alcock 72nd 1.21.15
Alex Jones 111th 1.25.47
Niall Bourke 169th 1.31.14
Claire Green 240th / 34th female 1.40.41
Rachel Pilling 257th / 42nd 1.42.52
Pete Hill 280th 1.47.17
Caroline harding 380th / 86th 2.10.38