Sunday, 22 May 2011

Old County Tops 2011

"rehydration in the Old Dungeon Ghyll with John & Scott"

YC was back for his annual crack at the Old County Tops Fell Race yesterday. This epic 37 miler is held in Great Langdale (Lake District) and takes in the high points of the old counties of Westmorland (Helvellyn), Cumberland (Scafell Pike) and Lancashire (Coniston Old Man). The race was made doubly difficult by YC feeling unwell throughout: a sore stomach and nausea made eating sufficient food nigh on impossible. 37 miles becomes even longer when you tackle it on a twix, a couple of pieces of malt loaf, and a few wine gums.

YC didn’t feel great from the off. After ticking off Helvellyn, the rot set in on the climb up Wythburn and around to Angle Tarn. YC hit a low point at Esk Hause (about half way round), but then recovered for the climb over Scafell Pike and the run down Mosedale to the checkpoint at Cockleybeck. Endless supplies of butties and cake were on offer there, but YC had to content himself with a cup of tea and pushed straight on for the climb up the back of Grey Friar.

He took stock just below the col and decided he could make it out to Coniston Old Man, despite the forecast wind and rain arriving with a vengeance. So he hobbled on and finally made it back to Great Langdale in just over 10 hours.

The race is run in pairs. YC was running with Scott Gibson. As hopes of a fast time evaporated and the priority changed simply to finishing, Scott was endlessly supportive and cajoled YC round with wine gums and good cheer. He even waited patiently 30 minutes from the finish when YC had to sit down for 5 minutes in a vain effort to get his act together.

YC was duly sick at the end – and then miraculously began to feel a bit better. He even managed a half of bitter (which is not code for several pints) in the Old Dungeon Ghyll later on.

Graham Walton & Dave Gunning were the first NFR pair home. Paul Myers and Nick Wild weren’t far behind, and John Telfer & Simon were pleased to crack 10 hours. YC was pleased just to finish. When Graham asked him – “did you enjoy that?” – he gave the honest answer “not really”. But as the pain of the day fades and the satisfaction of finishing increases, YC will wear his T-shirt with pride and can say for certain – he’ll be back next year.