Vile wet and windy weather for a misty confusing plod round the Howgills above Sedbergh.
The race went OK for the first 14km apart from a rubbishy line off Arant Haw skittering across a greasy contour rather than running straight down the main ridge on the descent before Castley Knott. This allowed Peter Brittleton to get a good bit ahead after I'd passed him on the initial climb up Arant Haw.
On the climb up Castley Knott I caught Mike Robinson of Dark Peak and then ran with him round all the contours more or less to Checkpoint 3. I then held my position across the next couple of featureless cols before dropping down to Checkpoint 4.
At this point I was in about 8th position and feeling OK, but I totally underestimated the final 10km back to the finish and dropped about 16 places, which was all fairly annoying.
The first 8 places I lost as a peloton of runners went by me on the long slog back up to The Calf. The weather by this point was totally vile. Torrential rain, wind and thick mist. I was shovelling down jelly babies and lucozade but getting no benefit and getting cold and uncomfortable running in a vest.
Reaching the summit of The Calf in thick mist and driving rain, the 8 runners had passed and disappeared, so I had to repeatedly stop and check the map to try to convince myself I was on the right path. I missed the contour of Calders, so essentially climbed an extra hill which no doubt allowed Paul Neild and another runner to catch me.
Finally arriving at the last top of Winder I thought I was safe from losing any more places but hadn't bargained on the marshal directing me off the hill in the wrong direction. I knew immediately I wasn't heading the right direction but kept hoping the path would bend round. When I finally dropped out of the mist there was no sign of Sedbergh since I was heading west rather than south, I could see way over to my left a stream of runners belting down the correct descent line, so chucked away another 5 or 6 places to finish 24th in 2:40. Mike Robinson held on and worked his way up to the 3rd and Peter Brittleton finished 5th.
All in all a fairly dismal unenjoyable race, but at least I wasn't shoved in the back and knocked to the ground like happened to Gelete Burka in the women's 1500m today. I imagine that must have been fairly upsetting! What on earth was Rodriguez thinking of?
After the race I caught up with Peter Brittleton and discovered that he'd summited Everest last year on 23th May with Adventure Peaks. In 2010 he's signed up for K2 with a Swedish expedition, but is also trekking to Everest Base Camp in November this year, so I may bump into him whilst I'm out there.
Also good to bump into Stewart Barrie and John Telfer, who are virtually the only other Scottish based runners I know of prepared to cross the Scottish/English border for a hill race!
Start photo courtesy of Ian Charters' blog