Scarfell Pike Trail Marathon
Leaving Hull at 4am to drive 150 miles just to reach a start line is nothing out of the ordinary for me however driving towards a mountain range to start a race is slightly out of my comfort zone. As I approached the turn for Keswick I was even worried or nervous about the size of the hills as this was just a kit check and final injury check before the Lakeland 100. (which I would later fail at badly but that’s another story).
With a small field of around 250 runners its more like a rock climbing and boulder kicking event than a trail run. Be prepared as it’s harder than it looks on the Website video and definitely harder than I expected. I arrived at the car park and registration to glorious sunshine but that is where the good times ended for me.
What followed was a comedy of errors or bad organisation I am really unsure which but it left me feeling lucky to be alive at the end of the day. At check in I was told they had lost my race number but it wasn’t a problem as they had spare numbers, “what was your name again? Oh and don’t worry the chip will still record your time”. From here you have a nice short 30 minute walk around the head of the lake to the start line.
The race like many others of this type states minimal kit required and experienced runners? A pet hate of mine is inadequate kit checks, granted most people wouldn’t dream of turning up with incorrect kit but some do. So imagine my surprise when kit check consisted of a bloke at the start line briefing saying “you should all have at least a raincoat in your bags as it looks like a nice day”
Finally the race starts and follows the shore of the lake through some nice wooded trail which is flat and fast before turning to tarmac for about a mile to reach a farmhouse at the foot of the mountain. This would be feed station 1 which had a variety of warm water, melted jelly babies and nuts. As requested by the race brief runners should fill up water here as it’s a long time in the mountain and there are no water stations. Roughly 8 miles and 1000 meters of climb and 1000 meters of descent before the next feed station through crowds and crowds of people all in 28 degrees.
For me this was my favourite part of the race with some fantastic climbs and unbeatable views. Through a couple of check points and photo opportunities and finally you reach the top which is worth the pain as you can see for miles.
It was at this point where I ran out of water and with 4 miles of descending to do before the feed station it was time to find a stream. I was looking forward to the descent but the shear volume of people going up made it difficult to find a clear and easy route. Finally a stream so I jump of route and fill my bottle and at this point Killian Jornet passes me going up faster than I am going down!
The descent continues and finally after a couple of stream fill ups a familiar feed station appears, feed station 1 is now feed station 2 and the water is now hotter but there is a new item to choose from COKE (boiled). At this point rather than follow the early route back to the start you break right and travel back along the other side of the lake. The final 2 sections take you up and over the top of the lake giving you some great views to distract you from the pain in your legs. The final feed station seemed to be further away than expected by most runners but it finally appears leaving just 5km to the finish line to the relief of the small group of runners that has formed. Fantastic water, coke, food and shade…..no wait make that 1 tree between 8 runners, warm water, warm coke and some dubious looking crisps.
2 cups of coke and 2 gels and within 1km I am sprinting to the finish as the hunger for fresh cold water is driving me now. Down towards the lake from the hills kicking rocks every 2 strides to join some nice shaded trail and as you approach the final km the crowds grow and things become difficult to navigate with dogs, bikes, kids, balls and mobility scooters but finally you reach the finish YES! Stop the watch and collapse. A nice lady approaches with a medal and a cup of WARM WATER! “you stay there she says and I will get your print out for you” she says. After lying on the floor for what seemed forever I decided to find my car and a shop with some cold drinks and ice-cream but first I wanted to grab my printout and here is the final nail in the coffin. “I am sorry sir we don’t seem to have a time for your race number, do you have a chip attached to it?”
Yes is my response
“what is the time on your watch?”
“what is your name and address as we don’t seem to have any data for you or any check point times”
At this point I walked away as it seems I ran the full race under the wrong number and no one knew I was even on the route, good job I didn’t get into difficulties and it’s definitely a good job there was a thorough kit check at the beginning.
All in all a great days running and great views but I wouldn’t recommend this race to my worst enemy.