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You either love it or hate it , and I loved it. The race briefing by the organiser contained a wish that we all find ourselves on our knees for the last few legs because only then does this event become a challenge instead of a well planned training exercise.
My kit was the source of some amusement at the kit check with temps predicted to be high I had a wooly hat and a buff as well as winter cycling gloves and lots of extra clothes. I pointed out that the year before in very similar ''oppening weather'' many people retired with mild hypothermia totally miserable shaking and soake to the skin- I remember a helicopter !
This excellent if heavy planning collapsed on the first leg when it became apparent that some moron had packed my bag for me and loaded a single 750ml bottle , all be it a pirate one. Despite looking cool I was desperate for water after an hour of the first leg-it took me over 3 hours. Arriving at the first checkpoint , and being mindful of the no outside assistance rule , I managed to drag a 500ml coke bottle out of the bin and now was up 1250ml! This prove woefully inadequate for the beast of a second leg from howtown to Mardale head, 9.4 miles and 765m or ascent in temps that reached 28 degrees in the mile long drag up fusedale beck.
The long and very pretty yomp down the side of Haweswater became torture, dropped off the back of my group ,then several others, and having the pain of them waiting increasing often for me to catch up , 2 gels burst in my bag and I licked the packaging like my life depended on it . The coke bottle water tasted funny then ran out, I tramped on.
We had been told that most people drop out at Mardale Head and also that competitors choose to drop out , with only a very few getting medically withdrawn. It may sound silly but I was firmly of the mind that choosing to drop out was not an option. I sat down , well slumped really and took stock, I knew it was water and sugar that were required but holding a sandwhich and a cup couldn't be bothered to drink them . Went to the toilet feeling sick , didn't vomit or pee, forced myself to drink and bit by bit, then very quickly got dramatically better. Five cheese and pickle sandwhiches , a coke , some juice , a coffee , 2 bits of cake some nuts and and several biscuits and I couldn't believe there had ever been a problem.
I shot out of the aid station like Mrs Doyle had given my a cake with cocaine in it, and flew up the steep and neverending switch backs of Gatescarth pass, with the rest of the leg passing in a sugary blur.
The next check point had smoothies just like the year before , plus pasta and jelly babies plus all the other essentials of life Like the previous year it had gone dark when we exited and started to rain , a vote was held on waterproof trousers and was unanimously in favour of staying in shorts, and so we set off blinding eachother and all the wildlife with thousand of candles of petzl brightness...part 2 to follow....