Saturday morning, and normal service is resumed. Sat in the car park of a playing field in Oxfordshire, about to spend the next 3 hours watching 9 year olds (and my son) play football.
The contrast makes last weekend seem quite surreal.
We had been invited to spend the weekend with the Mountain Fuel
team, who were in Keswick running the first two legs of the Bob Graham Round (BGR) as a team training weekend. Initially this seemed quite daunting; I live in a flat place, and am not fast or particularly fit at the moment, so running up and down fells, with proper runners, on a Bob Graham recce is a long way from my usual Thames Path plod. Indeed, walking into the kitchen of Rupert Bonington’s house, to be greeted by 12 incredible athletes was a little nerve racking. But once over the initial shock and awe and able to speak again, everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming (which you can be, as well as being good at running).
Quick photo in the back garden, before heading out into Keswick, the Moot Hall, and straight into the hills, and Skiddaw.
The team we were running with were in a completely different league of running. We ran with them for about a mile, before our lack of mountain fitness began to show, and we were left straggling at the back. Fortunately Rupert very kindly agreed to stay with us and keep us on the route, whilst the others headed off into the cloud, wind and rain. The BGR leg one route took us up Skiddaw, past Little Calva, to the top of Great Calva, then up Blencathra, before the choice of descent down into Threlkeld. The choice was either really steep, or really really steep.
It was a pretty miserable day up on the fells, with a good old wind blowing, and enough claggy cloud that if you were to spin around, you would have no idea which way you had come from or which way you should be going. But oh my goodness, how much fun is it up there?!
We had a great day, walking up these three peaks, coming down the sides, sometimes on path, sometimes in knee deep heather; some routes straight down, some following trods or quad bike tracks.
Things I learnt along the way include:
1. While Vibrams are great in the hills in the summer, they are terrible in the hills in the winter. With no grip at all, I was absolutely terrified at some points as I slipped down the hillside. I need some shoes with some tread to run there.
2. I have no idea about how to read the land, and what looked like innocent puddles and normal bits of bog often end up knee deep.
3. River crossings are not my forte, and although I love splashing about in the water, I’m a bit wobbly, and couldn’t feel my feet for the next 2 hours.
4. Mountain fitness is very different to normal fitness, and fell experience is essential for moving fast in the mountains. The ease at which the Mountain Fuel team left us was quite stunning. I’m sure that as they were powered by Mountain Fuel, they were also ready from a nutrition point of view.
We had a fantastic day out on Leg 1, the most random part of the day being bumping into a friend (Cat Simpson) who was also out running in the area, and happened to be running the same path as us at the same time.
We ended up back in Rupert’s Kitchen – by now all the other runners had been and gone – for a cup of tea and a Mountain Fuel recovery shake. I’m very impressed with the Mountain Fuel team, the product and their ethos. All the products I’ve tasted so far are a) very tasty and b) very effective. I’m sold, and will be running on Mountain Fuel for the next few months (even though there are no hills on the Thames Path).
We had an invite to run with the Mountain Fuel team the following day, but aware that Rupert wanted to spend time with his sponsored athletes, rather than stuck at the back with us, we decided the best thing was for us to do our own thing on Sunday. Lacking somewhat in local knowledge, we called up Britta Sendlhofer, who took us out on a great run up and around Steel Fell and Calf Crag with two of her dogs, Elf and Fleece.
Another fantastic day out running around the hills, which, as I’d managed to find some proper shoes with grip, was arguably more enjoyable and less terrifying than the day before.
Not surprisingly, after a week back at work, the aching quads are still aching, but we’ve resolved to go back again to the Lake District and enjoy the hills again soon.
In the end it was quite an entertaining game of football this weekend, but ended a 0-0 draw…
Special thanks to my friends Charlotte and Scott, who kindly lent us their flat for the weekend. To Rupert and the Mountain Fuel team for looking after us on Saturday, and Britta for guiding us on Sunday.