Windy as owt when we got there and, despite the blue skies, I wasn’t sure about layers. Kit was waived by JB, but a windproof was advisory. I decided to go with “be bold: start cold” on the basis that I knew the first climb would have me hands on knees and blowin’ oot ma arse, so merino was likely to be overkill. I did opt to take my full kit in my bumbag though. Better safe...
Sure enough, that first climb was just as much of a chew as I remembered. Setting off mid-pack, I set about slowly grinding my way to the top and overtaking where I could. I knew there would be plenty of opportunities to pass people on the more runnable sections if I had the legs for it, so was happy with whatever scalps I could get at that stage.
As the route levelled out, the wind seemed to drop right down and, with the sun on my back, I was happy with my clothing choices. So that was good. Managed to stretch the legs a little bit and was pleased to get a decent pace going; following a high volume week this was an exercise in running hard on tired legs, and I was feeling surprisingly good.
Dropped down off the top again - descending still not my strong point, I did a bit of leap frog with a guy from Low Fell at this point - and then into the second major climb. More hands on knees, but soon enough at the top and more opportunities to open up. The leaders were well ahead by now, but I went on the hunt and managed to catch up to the First Lady about 1.5km before the end. She was hot on my heels on the final plummet to the new finish line but I managed to disengage brakes and brain on the descent and keep the lead.
Crossed the line in 10th, so a solid improvement on last year. Really pleased to compete that well with real fell runners, and running in the Harrier League has definitely helped my downhilling; now it’s just terrible rather than abysmal!