Howard Swindells and I made a dash up from Sheffield for a swim in Lake Coniston followed by one of the finest short races in the calendar, a day to be remembered.
This race was distinguished by a small field of 41 runners, which given the nature of the approach road and the parking was quite fortunate. However I can heartily recommend this as one of the best races of the year. The start from the Blacksmiths Arms at Broughton Mills (a fine pub with a genuine 1830s theme i.e. it hasn\'t changed from at least this time) on a fine sunny evening was followed by a short, steep road section before a short, steep road section which sorted the field out into those who looked as though they knew the way and those who were hanging back who, as it turned out, did know the way!
I followed the former group, Howard the latter; the wisdom of age! The run to the top of the Knott and the first check point was straight forward and followed a well worn footpath. After this the path became non existent! Caw summit itself is a very obvious feature, what was not so obvious was how to get to it faced with mile upon mile of impenetrable bracken, a huge valley or a steep climb. The leading group opted for the battle through the bracken which involved a steady descent followed by a slight ascent and a not so steady descent into the valley. This left a fairly hefty but predominantly grassy ascent to the summit of Caw. The \"trailing\" group all followed a runner in a distinctive yellow vest who, with local knowledge managed to find a narrow and rather precipitous pathway along a scree which involved contouring around the head of the valley and which totally avoided the ensnaring bracken. This meant that Howard who was at least 150 metres behind me at the Knoll reached the summit about two minutes in front of me, giving himself a good 400 metre start for the finish run. At the time and not realising that there was this alternative route, I was convinced that he must have hidden powers, but having reached the summit and seen a small band of runners opting for the contour route, I realised that this was in fact the secret of his success. The return run was sheer magic with a clear view over Morecambe Bay , fast running and the determination to beat Howard, who it has to be said was running with an injured ankle (his excuse for the week).
A final highlight was sharing a bath (water trough) with Helen Diamantides who incidentally broke the ladies record despite being in the \"trailing\" group at the start. The winner also broke the previous record, perhaps an indication of the ne\'er to be repeated conditions of the day.
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