Old County Tops 2018

19 May 2018 – Old County Tops – 36.7 miles / 10,006 ft

It’s been a quiet year for me in terms of racing. I mangled my shin at the Stoop in December 2017 and immediately ruined my ITB when I came back to running in January. I didn’t get back to full training until the end of April and a fortnight later Charlie asks me if I fancy a long day out in the Lakes after David Anderson had to drop out. Three weeks of training is probably not enough time to prepare for Old County Tops — it’s rather long after all — but I had a long run spectating at the Three Peaks and a day on the fells going over the Buttermere route with Belinda so I was confident I could get round at the gentle pace Charlie had promised. Plus, it was the 30th running of the event and I had an opportunity to get my hands on a much coveted t-shirt!
Old County Tops 2018

Photo by Rowan Wood

In brief:
I enjoyed the first 3 hours
and finished 5 and a half
hours later.

We started at the back and spent the time chatting to familiar faces all the way to the top of Helvellyn. The skies were clear and at 8am it was already heating up so I made sure I started eating early and kept drinking. The descent off Helvellyn was taken at a good pace and we were passing plenty of pairs. However, by the time we were in the wretched valley marked as “The Bog” on the map we were out of the wind and the sun was slowly cooking me. Charlie was chomping at the bit and I kept having to call him back but we were still passing groups. Charlie found a great line over to Angle Tarn and by the time we were at Esk Hause I remember telling Charlie that I have never felt good on the ascent of Scafell Pike from there. I am fairly sure it was the last conversational thing I said all day.

We took the direct line down Scafell Pike and Charlie again picked a choice line through Mossdale to Cockley Beck. By now, it was very warm indeed and there was no cloud cover to provide shelter from the sun. I felt sick for much of the time through to Mossdale and every minute was a grind. I remember counting time in five minute segments and doing all I could to stay at Charlie’s heels for those five minutes. However, I had promised myself that after 6 hours I would apply some more sun cream as a reward (my all day suncream apparently lasts 6 hours, which was a convenient milestone). We arrived at the feed station after almost exactly 6 hours and so I treated myself to some cheese and pickle sandwiches and a layer of factor 30. It felt like utter luxury.

The grind up Grey Friar was the lowest point of the day and I was grateful to have Charlie choose our lines. By the time were going around Swirl How the breeze arrived and I was able to push on to the top of the Old Man feeling refreshed. Then we were homeward bound! Charlie, knowing I’m a fan of Jonathan Richman, got me singing various Lake District ditties to the tune of New England by the Modern Lovers and I somehow arrived to the last checkpoint at Three Shires stone to be told we were in 14th. We couldn’t believe it! On the way down Wrynose Pass we noticed a pair in front were struggling and pushed on again. We caught them, passed them, and then around Blea Tarn I noticed that a sub 8:30 time was on. I was shouting at my legs all the way down to the finish at Old Dungeon Ghyll and we finished in a time of 8:29 and in 13th place.

I then sat in the shade, had the most glorious cup of tea, coughed my wheezy asthmatic lungs up for a couple hours, and eventually was able to stomach a couple of cheese and pickle sandwiches.

-Matthew Seddon

  1. May 31, 2018
    • June 3, 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *