There’s really only one thing to do now that the days are short, the temperature has dropped, and it’s raining more often than not. Do a 10k trail race in the Lake District, obviously.
Last Saturday SB and I traversed the North of England to run a 10k trail run at Helvellyn. When people heard we were running there, their responses weren’t great: they’d grimace a bit and say “Really? You’re running Helvellyn?”. Since it was only 10k, I was fairly confident that we weren’t running up and down the whole mountain , but something manageable for my short, little legs.
As with all of the runs in this Lake District series, the route takes you out of whatever village you start in and up the hill pretty quickly. It’s been a year since I have done a proper trail race like this, and I had forgotten just. how. hard. it. is.
I entered with a false sense of security that it’d be a breeze, a lovely way to spend a Saturday, and it might be rainy and cold, but heck, we were out in nature, man, keeping fit and being at one with the trees and the birds. I had imagined some kind of Wordsworthian experience, and what I got were wet feet, sore ankles and stitches in my shoulders.
The route climbed for approximately 4.5 kms, ran level-ish for about 1.5km, and then back down again. As I ran up the hill, it felt like my legs were magnets and wanted to stick to the ground. Try as I might I couldn’t get them to move faster. SB, with his strong legs, is great at hill running. He alternated between powering ahead and waiting for me to catch up. I felt like the Little Engine that Could, and every corner turned brought more climb!
Finally, we reached the top. I say top – of course, there’s the whole rest of the mountain, but who cares about that right now? As we ran along the peak, there was the most beautiful view of Glenridding village with Ullswater stretching before it. The good thing about my current running leggings is that my phone is very accessible for action photos.
Along the peak I found my stride, and was able to pick up the pace quite a bit. That’s when it became fun. I had completely forgotten how much mental energy trail running uses: you have to look at every single step and find where’s best to place your feet. If not, you’ll trip and fall. We ran over stones, rocks, through streams & mud, and in fields with hidden potholes. But there’s always time for a selfie – especially when I was in front!
Running downhill was the scariest for me. The path has all stones sticking up at different angles, and I could hear someone treading really loudly and heavily behind me. If he slipped, he’d definitely have taken us both down. And landing face first in a pile of rocks was not what I had imagined for this run. Luckily, he passed and sprinted off into madness and down the hill.
I had no idea how fast I had run when I finished. I had thought the descent might have made up for my slow ascent, but who can say?
Well I’ll tell you who: the Timing Chip. Hurrah for Timing Chips! I found out that SB finished in 50:10, and I finished in 50:56. We placed 39th and 51st respectively out of 250 runners. And the event has free photos for you to download as well:
This series is one of my favourites. They’re not too big, the route is always beautiful, and they’re pretty cheap for what you get. Plus, it’s always great to have an excuse to go to the Lake District.
Thanks for reading!