First did this very enjoyable race four years ago and have been looking forward to getting back down to it ever since, however have had a foot injury lately so when I woke up on the Wednesday morning barely able to walk it looked like I was going to miss out again. Three days later though and after a little TLC and with the foot strapped up I arrived at the start line in the Newlands valley near Keswick along with nearly 300 other runners at least fairly confident of getting round in one piece. The forecast was for sunny spells with heavy showers but other than a downpour while I was in the village hall the rain stayed away and with little wind and good visibility it really was a great day to be out in the hills.
After an early climb from the start, which was steeper than I remembered, I settled into a steady pace along the track and road with the only real drama provided by a lady in a 4X4 who scattered runners to both sides as she came down the narrow lane without slowing down. The first summit of Robinson is preceeded by the longest and steepest climb of the day but once at the top this race really becomes a joy taking in the summits of Hindsgarth, Dalehead, Highspy and Catbells. At Robinson the race also merged with the longer Teenager With Altitude race which had started 90 minutes earlier so we had the boost of passing some tired participants from this race, to be fair though apart from the extra distance the Teenager packs in about twice as much climbing so they had every right to be tired, maybe next year. While not pushing too hard, on the downhills especially, I found that I was moving up though the field and apart from a bad route choice down to Dalehead Tarn everything went smoothly and I arrived at the finish in 46th place fairly fresh and without any more damage to the foot.
While the time of 2:03:41 was a bit slower than I was hoping for, having thought I was going to miss out earlier in the week it was really just a pleasure to be part of such a great event. Also down from Hawick were Kenny Short who finished 48th, Billy Fraser 75th and Mark Lyons 252nd. After wandering up the hill with Kenny and Billy to watch some of the other runners coming in, it was a quick change then back to the hall where a welcome plate of Chilli was on offer and even more welcome was the sign saying Free Beer.