What is it about Langdale and me? Every year I do the race there’s a “problem” and a “success”. On the problems front, over the years there’s been terrible cramp, a lack of fitness, bashing my knees, getting stuck on the Bad Step, wonky lines etc. In an attempt to resolve these problems, I go back to Langdale every year to practice. This year’s focus was on three tasks of getting the lines right up Bowfell, up Crinkle Crags and the line between Great Knott and Cold Pike on the way to Pike of Blisco.
Yesterday these all went pretty well with ongoing attention needed on the very slippery rocks, at times we are literally going at a snail’s pace. So, all is going well for me and I arrive at Pike of Blisco in 193rd position having moved up from my 268th position at Stickle Tarn. I head off east, feeling good, knowing my way down to the finish. Oh such confidence!
I realise after a while I’m not recognising where I am. I stop, relocate. Ah, I’m looking South onto Wrynose Pass. In my slightly disappointed and not thinking state (to put it mildly) and my need for something definite in the landscape I continue south onto the road (lots of lessons in this about my ability to keep thinking in the midst of tiredness and a race mindset – I should have headed north). I make my way round by a circular route to the final checkpoint at the cattle grid beneath Side Pike and I’m now in 296th position! I finish in 305th position. Mmm, all I can do is smile, feel a little sheepish and giggle to my-self. So, the practice for next year is …. One consolation is that the route over Blea Moss, past Tarnclose Crag and Blea Tarn is beautiful, well worth a picnic. — Alan Hirons
Images by Cal Ferguson and Hilary Barber