So, in 2020 I thought I am 52, running well and the Joss Naylor challenge in under 12 hrs seems very feasible! Then came Covid and scuppered that.
I thought I would try again in 2021 then Covid and lockdowns continued so going to have to wait another year.
So come 2022, helping on two BGR’s and being sensible for probably the first time in my life I thought wait till your 55 in July and have the luxury of 15hrs to complete just in case you cannot get under 12hrs!
Training started recceing routes, helping on two successful BGR’s and I was feeling good – starting to think I could outdo Keith Wood’s time of just under 11hrs 30mins.
I had also run Offa’s dyke in a week with Gemma, so my stamina was good.
September the 3rd was to be the day and with a great support team around me from Saltwell Harriers I was set to go. Starting time of 5:30 and tried not to look at the weather reports too much in the week leading up to it, but it was forecast for rain, low cloud and windy – great!
I started leg 1 with Seb and Kev and was seen off by my road crew, Gemma and a couple of the guys and the weather could not have been better. No visibility issues and had a nice run in the early morning warmth with daylight coming just before Arthurs Pike. The rest of the leg was great and got to Kirkstone about 20 mins down on schedule.
The support crew were there with everything in hand, and it was a pleasure to be met by Rainer Burchett – a JNC ambassador who offered wise words about ‘just enjoying the day’.
Full of porridge and tea, clean top and off up Red Screes with Fred, Simon and Davey and started feeling tired, cramping so badly at times I felt like I had been shot by a sniper! Got through the leg with no nav issues and down to Dunmail a few more minutes down on schedule but ok.
Onto leg 3 and struggling to eat but set off up Steel Fell with Keith, Rob and Andy and still feeling tired. I was having doubts now about completing but thoughts of Sarah Garrett and the struggles she had with cancer and knew I had to press on – I certainly couldn’t give up knowing what she went through!
Although I was least familiar with leg , I knew I could rely on Keith Woods navigation skills. Standing at Calf Crag Andy asked why it wasn’t on the pace card – because it’s not part of the JNC was my reply – Keith’s face was a picture and my excuse for not beating his time was set in stone! The rest of the leg was tough — I continued cramping up, struggled to eat and rain and low cloud came in before High raise until after Bow Fell so there were hard trudges up those summits – I wasn’t in a happy place! We found the good line off Great End though, so I was glad to get down to Sty Head about an hour down but ready for the last leg.
Fed watered and a new top on and I set off up Gable with Paul, Gemma, and Peter. Still feeling tired but knowing I was on the last leg gave me a great buzz and my support crew certainly kept me eating and talking. We started steadily ticking off the tops. Even a heavy rain shower on Pillar didn’t dampen my spirits and we were soon looking at the looming lump of Seatallan and the last top of Middle Fell just behind it.
We all trooped up to that last summit, rain jacket off, Saltwell vest on and the adrenaline kicked in and as I followed Paul down towards Greendale Bridge I could see and hear the cheers of my support crew, some of their wives and kids waiting for me.
13hrs 26 mins was my finishing time and I have to say it was tough. Anyone who can do sub 12hrs for that challenge gets a lot of respect from me and thanks to Joss for setting such a great challenge – it was indeed a grand day out!
Thanks again to all of my supporters and well-wishers, and Sarah – I couldn’t have done it without you all.
Even Keith Woods sabotage plan didn’t stop me finishing!