Took a trip down memory lane today. Saw the awesome forecast and set the alarm for 5am (in old money that’s 4am but no point thinking that way because we’ve all been longing for summer time). Away at 5.30 and parking up in Langdale for 07.30. No-one around and free parking – bliss!!
Setting off up the road to Little Langdale to begin the ascent of Pike O’Blisco and it suddenly hit me – almost 12 years ago I was jogging up this road with 10 hours running in me; hitting my first weak spot but on schedule for the Lakes 24 hour record. No supporters today, no tray of goodies, no buzz but what a beautiful morning - snow above about 2000ft and a cerulean sky.
Pike O’ Blisco is a stiff pull but the early start pays dividends; with no damned schedule to stick to I can take my time to tick off each of the Crinkle Crags tops rather than scoot round to Shelter Crag as I so often have in the past and I am over Bowfell, Allen Crags, Great End and half way to Scafell Pike before I even see anyone else on the fells. For 2 ½ hours I have had the Lake District to myself on a perfect day.
There is quite a bit of ice around high up so I decide to miss the excitement of Broad Stand, the West Wall Traverse and Lords Rake and opt instead for a stagger down glazed rocks to Lingmell. Decision time then. Well, I’ve been needing some hill miles in my legs for ages so, down the nose of Lingmell into Wasdale and up the nose of Kirkfell back into the last vestiges of winter. That’s enough to sort anyone out. Funny thing though – as always, my knees felt painful from the outset but today I’ve deliberately left the Ibuprofen at home and, if anything, they are starting to feel better as the day goes on. The rocky descents of Kirkfell and Great Gable dispel that optimism but now I just have to follow the big track through from Styhead to Sprinkling Tarn and Angle Tarn before the descent back into Langdale. 8 ½ hours on my feet in total and I feel nicely spent – today has done the power of good. It’s reminded me how focussed I had to be when I was training and preparing for a Lakes round and I truly wish Steve Birkinshaw all the best with his endeavours in May this year.
Funny to think really: my South Wales traverse time is 17 years old, my Paddy Buckley time is 16 years old and my Lakes 24 hour time will soon be 12 years old. All of a sudden, after a real lull in record attempts things are hotting up and it promises to be a great year. You can read about Steve and his ambitions here:
If Steve is anything like me he will find training for the attempt far easier than asking other people to give up their time to help so, if you are interested and able please give him support. Many people have asked me how I will feel when the record is broken – well, obviously there will be a tinge of sadness but what makes me truly happy is that someone else feels it is worth devoting time, effort and energy to trying. It’s not going to make you rich, it’s not going to make you famous but, for me, I felt an obligation to try as soon as it thought it might be possible.