Introduction

The Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge route leaves Pooley Bridge to traverse 30 summits over a distance of 48 miles and climbs 17,000 feet (77km, 5182m).

The inaugural run from Pooley Bridge to Wasdale was made by Joss Naylor in 1990, at the age of 54; in very bad weather with heavy rain and a strong SW wind Joss completed the run to Greendale Bridge in 11 hours and 30 minutes.

Chris Brasher offered engraved pewter tankards to the first 20 runners to do so with the proviso that they raised at least £100 for a charity of their own choice. In January 1997, with 17 tankards already awarded, Chris extended his sponsorship. In 2001, with 33 tankards awarded, Joss secured on-going sponsorship for the tankards.

The challenge is offered to fell runners over the age of 50 to complete the run in set times according to their age group. The challenge is intended to be a "supported run" for individuals - each contender is to be accompanied on every leg for safety reasons and unaccompanied attempts will not be recognised. There is more information on the Challenge Details page below.

If you are interested, please have a look at the Challenge Details, download a schedule or contact me using the "Email Ian Charters" form below.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Elise Milnes (W55) – 05 September 2015



5am September 5th at Pooley Bridge on a quite cold and clear morning.  I’m meeting my navigator Geoff Cox for the first time.  The rest of my support team are Carol Morgan, Simon Franklin and Paul Calderbank.

Not only were the weather Gods smiling on us, but on the drive over we had seen a badger in the road, a live one which was a first for me, we took this as a good omen – I was going to survive the day!

The sunrise was beautiful with just the odd cloud kissing a summit, my favourite time of the day in my favourite place.

Leg 1 went to schedule.  Carol and Paul made sure I ate and drank plenty which set me up for the whole day.  The navigation was perfect and we started to gain a few minutes.  For me the Leg felt relaxed and organised and the chat made time fly by.

We descended into Kirkstone to some very loud cheering from my road support, mainly Issy.  My husband Graham and Clare Harris fed and watered everyone.  There were lots of hugs and we were off, up Red Screes on Leg 2 with a new team, Tom Phillips navigating, Linda Murgatroyd and Steve Foster as timekeeper and pacer.  Also joining us was Louise Stunell, a total newbie to these mountains and the Lake District and what a day to show it off, blue sky, warm sunshine and views that take your breath away – or maybe that was the march up Red Screes!

This Leg also flew by, gaining time on nearly every summit, Tom knows the best lines!  At Seat Sandal Nick Harris joined us and the descent into Dunmail was deafening, thanks again to Issy.  I was worried, this was not Lake District behaviour, we could be barred!  It was very up lifting and I felt the smile over take my face.

Same crew for Leg 3 minus Louise and (sorry if this is getting boring) text book perfect, gaining more time as we were going, I was well looked after and ate well.  Much to Tom’s bewilderment, Linda and I never stopped talking, only to eat!  Great Gable crept into the conversation, it was too far away, I didn’t want to know, so it was pointed out even more!  From High Raise, the second one, we could see that something was on top of it which looked like a giant sheep, it was a helicopter, shame I liked the idea of a giant sheep!

At Great End we were met by Phil and Jackie Scarf and got to Sty Head in good time where Graham and Clare were waiting, quiet here, no Issy!  My final team, Peter McNulty and Mick Bull navigating and pacers Sheila McNulty, Jackie and Phil Scarf.  The plan was to finish in daylight, we pressed on, I still felt strong.  But Seatallan was looming, it’s a monstrous climb that seemed to take longer than the whole round, my legs said No!  I did think I should have a word with Joss about this hill, so near the end, it’s cruelty!  I made it to the summit and on to Middle Fell to be met by Graham and Clare with the news that Joss was waiting on the bridge.  There was still life in my legs and I descended at full pace – it seemed fast to me!!  15 hours and 14 minutes and in daylight!


It was truly a magical, enjoyable day which I will cherish forever and made possible by my fantastic supporters – thank you.  

A special thanks to Clare Harris who suggested I had a go at the JNC and organised everything.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Paul Cornforth (M50) – 27 June 2015

 

My life has been quite busy over the last year with work commitments and family illness so when you spot a window of opportunity you have to seize it. It was Thursday night when I spotted this one and so quickly formulated a plan, the Joss Naylor Challenge. But it was only a half plan because I didn’t know if I was fit enough to do a really long run. After Scoffer and Chris Hope agreed to help I just needed a couple more runners. Thankfully fell running legends, Gavin Bland and Morgan Donnelly called me on Friday morning to offer their support so it was game on.

I was completely unorganised and getting the right nutrition before and during the run is crucial. Unfortunately throughout the day on Friday I was ill and never off the toilet so my energy reserves were not going to be where they should have been and I seriously thought of cancelling the whole thing, but as I had pacers organised I decided to go ahead.

I stayed in my van at Pooley Bridge on Friday night and set my alarm for 5.30. I awoke to a beautiful clear morning looking down on Ullswater and set about getting prepared for the day. Morgz rang me at about 6.15 to let me know he had slept in and might be late so I packed a bag of essential supplies for him to carry. As it was Morgz turned up at 6.40 so everything was fine and we set off as planned at 7am from Pooley Bridge. I was really conscious of not going too fast on this leg, I’d done it a couple of times in training and keeping to the schedule seemed quite hard. I was prepared to lose some time off the schedule and try to make it up later on, as it was we arrived at Kirkstone bang on 9.30 and sure enough there was Gavin waiting.

My stomach still felt a bit delicate from the day before so the only food I’d had on leg 1 was a nibble on some Mountain Fuel pancakes and some energy drink and as we climbed Red Screes I could feel cramp like twinges in both calves and knew I needed to get some more food down my neck. I had a banana and immediately felt the benefit. Leg 2 is pretty similar to the 3rd leg of the Ian Hodgson Relay and running down the tussocky grass off the back of Red Screes I mused at the difference in my speed today compared to the break neck speed you descend in the relay. But still we were moving pretty well and there was a long way to go.

On the climb to Fairfield Gavin produced a white finger roll with a mixture of Philadelphia cheese and jam, “This is one of Joss’s favourite sarnies”, said Gav, “Only he has his with a bit of tomato to moisten it up a bit, it’s not too dry is it?”

“No its fine thanks”, I replied. I still had half the sandwich stuffed in my cheek climbing Seat Sandel!

My wife Kerry met me on the top and we jogged down to Dunmail together. I felt in pretty high spirits and as Dunmail came into view I saw that it was looking very busy with cars and people, surely they haven’t all turned out to see me I thought. No they hadn’t, there seemed to be a series of events all crossing at this point and it all seemed pretty chaotic. I didn’t hang around; I had two spoonful of rice pudding and cracked on up Steel fell with a banana in one hand and another one of Gav’s speciality sandwiches in the other. Scoffer took over the support at this point and Dave Nuttall who happened to be at Dunmail and was going out for a run joined us too.

Things went a little bit pear shaped after Steel Fell, I felt hungry, empty and sick all at the same time and we got the line slightly wrong climbing up onto High Raise. I was tripping up in bogs and felt dizzy, disorientated and weak. I needed something to give me a boost but it materialised that we didn’t have too much food and all of the Mountain Fuel flapjack, pancakes and energy sachets for drinks had been left at Dunmail. Scoffer had some jelly beans but said that he didn’t really want to give me them as they were expensive and he wanted them for himself. Dave produced a gel and although it tasted disgusting it perked me up enough to keep me going and we were soon standing on Rossett Pike. From here to Styhead is all a bit of a blur and I was definitely just surviving on my reserves. Scoffer had reluctantly submitted to giving me some jelly beans, but apart from that we were pretty much out of food. We just hoped that Chris had brought plenty to Sty Head. I needn’t have worried as soon as I got there he handed me a drink of Lucozade that tasted like nectar and a ham sandwich. We did a quick calculation on time and progress and it was announced that I probably wouldn’t be breaking any records today but we should be ok for the 12 hour schedule. At that point I would be just pleased to complete the round so I was happy that we were still on schedule. About 10 minutes later there was another announcement,

“No I’ve got that wrong, we’ve got another hour, bloody hell you CAN still break the record, come on let’s get going.”

From this point Chris Hope, a veteran of many adventure races and long distance challenges and knowing the importance of nutrition, kept plying me with regular nibbles of chocolaty, oaty bars and fluids and I started to feel much stronger.

Each hill we summited we shaved time off the schedule and from Bowfell to Pillar we were 43 minutes faster. Scoffer starting shouting encouragement at me more often and part of me started to believe that I could do it. Scoffer waited on Scoat fell whilst Chris and I dipped in and out of Steeple and in the swirling mist I could hear Scoffer shouting,

“Get your finger out Corny, don’t you want this record?”.

It seemed a long way down and out to Haycock, the mist had completely descended now and the skies had darkened. From Haycock it was compasses out and a bearing down to the Pots of Ashness where we picked up the reverse route of the Wasdale Fell race line to Seatallan. The climb up Seatallan seemed to go on for ages. I calculated that if I could be at the summit in 10 minutes, descend to Greendale Tarn in 10 minutes and then climb Middlefell in 10 minutes I should be ok for the record, but in the mist it would be very easy to go wrong and that would be it. Perfect navigation from Chris and Scoffer took us to the tarn then it was just a case of digging in for one final climb of the day. I had never been up Middlefell before and it seemed bigger than I expected but even so we were on the summit at 5.19pm, a quick quad killer to finish the day on the descent to Greendale is just what was required after 47 miles and 17,000m feet and we arrived at Greendale Bridge at 5.35pm feeling very pleased. I then did something that I have never done before and probably never will again; I put my arm around Scoffer!

So in total I did 10.35 for the challenge, the record was 10.47. In an amazing coincidence as Chris was waiting at Sty Head for me, a guy came over to ask what he was doing.

“Just waiting for Corny, he’s having a crack at breaking the record for the Joss Naylor Challenge”, said Chris.

The guy was Leigh Warburton, the record holder…

A big thanks to my support runners, Morgan Donnelly, Gavin Bland, Andrew Scoffer Schofield, Dave Nuttall, Chris Hope and of course my lovely wife Kerry.

 

At Dunmail Raise

20150627_001_MS_JNC-76Kerry & Paul

 

20150627_002_MS_JNC-79Paul Leaving for Sty Head

 

 

20150627_003_MS_JNC-82Support and Scoffer Following

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Karen Parker (W50) – 29 August 2015

 

When your brother is Steve Birkinshaw, the record holder for the Wainrights Round (six and a half days), you can’t really expect your family to be that impressed by an attempt at the Joss Naylor Challenge taking a mere 14 hours. However they rallied to the cause brilliantly and I did the whole thing with just family help. Road support was provided my Mum, my sister Hilary and her partner Shaun, and hill support by husband Dan and Steve. I was raising money for the Sampson Centre, an MS Therapy centre Hilary attends and gets huge benefit from.

I left Pooley Bridge at 6:00 accompanied by Dan who was somewhat weighed down by a heavy rucsac. We made a steady start and by the time we reached Arthurs Peak I’d managed to get over my nerves and start to appreciate the serenity of the early morning hills. This is an area of the Lakes that we know very well as we live only about three miles east of Loadpot Hill and it was a real pleasure being there at a time of day we don’t normally see it. Maybe I was enjoying it too much as I was falling quite a long way behind my schedule (which had already been slowed down from the standard one on this section as it seemed so fast) or maybe I can blame the very strong southerly headwind and soggy underfoot conditions. As we ran towards Thornthwaite Beacon the clouds descended both literally and metaphorically as doubts about my chances of success were creeping in. Then somewhat unexpectedly, by Stony Cove Pike I was back on schedule. And despite a minor hiccup locating Pike How requiring us to get our the map we continued to gain time and arrived at Kirkstone five minutes up on schedule to an enthusiastic welcome from Mum, Hilary and Shaun.

It felt somewhat selfish to leave them after only five minutes, but it had to be done. The climb up Red Screes seemed easier than expected and it was probably the only time I’ve been up there without seeing anyone. As we approached Hart Crag, huge dark clouds appeared over Fairfield and heavy rain drops started falling. We rapidly put on cagoules but it was a false alarm and within minutes the rain had stopped. By Dunmail I was still within my schedule but definitely getting tired and not looking forward to the climb up Steel Fell at all.

Steve joined us at Dunmail, but had warned us that he was definitely not at his best, having felt very tired and a bit feverish all week, and that he might need to miss some of the tops. The original plan had been that he would be able to carry almost everything from now on, leaving Dan able to continue for as long as he wanted without being too weighed down, but now Dan was going to have a much harder time of it. We set off up the steep hill and thanks to lengthy discussion about injuries (probably a staple subject of most over 50 year olds) it passed more easily than expected. At the top it really did start raining. I assumed it was one of the forecast showers but in fact I didn’t take my cagoule off for another four hours. Having read reports by other contenders, I knew that the next section to High Raise was one of the least popular. I’d never really understood why but today, with the marshy bits wetter than I’d ever known, I agreed.

I really don’t like rocky descents, so wasn’t particularly looking forward to the section from Bowfell to Steeple, and the fact that the rocks were now wet wasn’t going to help. Rather than go down the steep north side of Great End (where all our earlier attempts to find a reasonable route had ended with me getting scared or cross or both) I went almost all the way back to Esk Hause, and then took the path to Sty Head. It was nice to have a chance to run freely again for a bit.

We had arranged for Shaun to walk up to Sty Head from Wasdale to bring us extra water, food and spare shoes. Unfortunately the plan had been concocted at 11 o’clock the previous evening and not really thought through so when he wasn’t there (because we were about 20 minutes up on schedule) we didn’t know what to do, or what he would do. We were a bit short of water, but we were more concerned about the fact that he might wait for ages getting increasingly worried about what had gone wrong. We decided that Steve should wait for him and fortunately he arrived about 5 minutes after Dan and I set off up Great Gable.

Surprisingly we managed to find a nicer route off Gable than any of us had ever managed before, somehow missing most of the sections of big boulders. Maybe the mist actually helped because we couldn’t see the normal line of cairns. The descent of Kirk Fell was less successful. I’d already decided not to go down the red gully but stay on the spur as it felt safer. It wasn’t. Somehow I tripped and found myself falling forward down a small crag. Amazingly the only damage was a very bruised knee but I definitely scared Steve and a passing walker.

By the time I reached the top of Pillar it began to feel as though the end was getting close and as I was now 20 minutes up on my schedule the only major risk to completion was falling over again. This thought made me even less confident on the rocks than I had been before and it was a huge relief to reach Haycock and grass. Finally as we descended from Seatallan we got properly out of the clouds for the first time for hours to find it was a lovely sunny evening.

I really enjoyed the final descent from Middle Fell, but nevertheless was very happy to be able to cross the finish line supplied by Joss and sit down.

Many thanks to my family for their support, especially Dan who came virtually the whole way despite the heavy rucksack but who, at 53, is a bit too young for a time of 13:25 to be fast enough. Maybe next year….

 

IMG_3316Finishing

 

IMG_3309Finished

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Eric Blakie (M60) – 08 August 2015

 

My Bob Graham was 15 years ago and since Foot and Mouth sidestepped me to Triathlon I haven’t really spent a lot of time on the fells apart from supporting other attempts at BG’s or Joss’s and the odd outing at the Langdale Horseshoe. Anyway it was on the bucket list and so we are at Pooley Bridge at 2.00 am on a 17.30 hr schedule for a 60 year old—actually 61 at the time. I must also mention that I had not seen some of our gang of pacers for some time and as I mentioned I was actually doing this for them----but it did feel very strange being the centre of attention !

So first leg-----wet wet wet underfoot but good weather and a reasonably clear night. Pacers Kevin Otto and Ian Smallwood.We missed the first peak Arthurs Pike by about 200m and had to back track. That cost us a few minutes which we never really got back plus in the dark I was trying to make sure no accidents as my knees have been playing up recently—walking poles helped tremendously in the mud ! Had to make a ‘nature stop’ on High Street costing another couple minutes but caught my pacers up by taking the shorter route up the wall.We met Richard Woodrow on Stoney Cove Pike who had backtracked from Kirkstone.Kirkstone arrived 11 mins down but no panic---took a shorter break.

Second leg with Graeme Dance and Ian Smallwood-- again. Kevin was in the plan for this but decided he may slow us up on the climbs. Fantastic views from the tops ---low mist/cloud to the west and clear to the east. Found it difficult to get the few minutes back on this leg as didn’t want to go too hard. I wasn’t looking forward to the decent off Fairfield but was surprised to find the zig zag down quite easy---the summer crowds had moved the loose scree aside. The decent off Seat Sandal is a bit taxing on sore knees but we came to Dunmail only 9 mins down to be met by all the team including my wife Dot duly ready with every need.

Third leg and no way back-----with Ruth Dance and Tim Malpass setting off 6 mins down.A good climb up Steel Fell got some time back but we had decided to go to High Raise via Sergeant Man rather than my usual route straight up Birks Gill which proved a mistake---it seems easier but is longer so we lost a few more minutes.Coming down from High Raise to Rossett Tim started to lag back and was clutching his thigh however waved us on---so we left him ! Well as a pacer you accept if you get injured you are on your own( not quite as we knew that we had support meeting us at Rossett who he would meet up with !).After Rossett we were met by my brother Clive who had come up from Langdale with Kevin’s son Jonathan—more importantly with the coffee. Quick coffee stop and up Bowfell keeping to the split time. We then made up time over Esk Pike and up to Great End then deciding not to do the Band but backtrack, cut the corner down a nice grassy slope and to the main path from Esk Hause. We were met by Ian and Pete on the path–and by virtually the whole gang again at Sty Head.

Last Leg---after a short break left on schedule. Kevin and Jonathan had decided to do leg 4 for their own amusement and had already set off finding their own routes with Pete.A good climb up Gable got some time back and we met up with Pete for Kirk Fell again gaining time. Richard made a brief appearance at Black Sail Pass to encourage us on but had obviously forgotten the coffee !!By Pillar we were 15 mins up but lost some of that when I had to put some tape on one of my toes.We met a Bob Graham attempt on Steeple and he was 40 mins down but tried to encourage him as from my experience many are 40 mins down at this point and you can make it up.

Kevin and Jonathan kept popping up but proceeded to take a horrible path off Haycock whereas Ian knew the ‘easy’ way off down the grass. They then headed straight for Greendale Bridge. Seatallan seems very foreboding and miles away from Haycock but we were soon over the bog and up the climb with one to go still 7 mins up. The last hill is always very welcome and we were met by quite a party—Richard still didn’t have the coffee but had a miniature whisky for me which was duly downed as photos were taken and down we set off. Then we were met by David Powell Thompson to take us down his route(Joss had been called away for some meeting) which was very nice especially as we had watched him on TV the week before in ‘A year in the life of a mountain(Scafell)’.So to Greendale Bridge and the finish---17 hrs and 27 minutes.

After various photos and a leg dip in Joss’s stream a couple of bottles of fizz ensued before we headed back to our accommodation near Keswick and a mad 2 hr celebration party. But what a day on the fells in clear weather and with a fantastic bunch of pacers and supporters—very difficult to put into words but an experience I shall always remember –thanks guys ! Oh and as for the continuous micky taking and insults—well it keeps you going and your mind off the pain—certainly it was pay back for many !!!!!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bryan Staddon (M55) – 31 August 2015

 

This challenge has hung over me for several years since making an unofficial attempt on a sub 12 hour round solo in 2010 and missing the final two summits leading into Wasdale. Since then I have organised two other attempts based on sub 12 hour schedules, one was a non-starter due to a late injury and the other I abandoned at Rossett Pike as the schedule slipped away and the weather deteriorated,

So a few years pass and now at 59 years I had another 3 hours available on the schedule, time for another attempt. The problem I have always had though is the logistics of organising an attempt living in the South in Bristol. There has never been a pool of avid fell runners available in my running club – multi-terrain was the closest most got to true off-road running. Most had never even heard of the challenge, it was very much Joss who? And mention navigation and you may as well forget it! My chances of getting a group ready for a planned date and then getting good weather were pretty slim.

This year there was no detail planning, and I had not sorted anything bar a casual mention to a husband and wife team who were keen mountain marathon competitors – Bill & Claire Graham. They knew the route and they now had a caravan sited near Keswick for the season and were up there as often as possible this year. So the first hurdle of availability was sorted albeit a skeleton crew which also included my wife Hilary as road support, all I needed was to find a good weather window at short notice. We had all decided to head off to the Lakes for the August Bank Holiday and I had casually mentioned about the possibility of fitting in an attempt and had initially considered Sunday 30th August, this eventually moved to Monday 31st . The seed was sown and plans were hurriedly put in place. Bill & Claire had already agreed to do two legs each which we had considered feasible on a 15 hour schedule although I would have to carry more of my own food and drink to assist each other, the luxury of minimal weight was not possible on this attempt. The plan was:

Leg 1 – supported by Claire & return to campsite, then drive herself to Wasdale Head for Leg 3 from Sty Head

Legs 2 & 3 – supported by Bill & return to Greendale Bridge from Sty Head

Leg 4 – supported by Claire to Greendale Bridge

We had also considered for Bill to get to beneath Seatallan and give Claire the option of missing the last two summits if time allowed

Start Pooley Bridge – 7.01am

The weather was good as forecasted and the view towards High Street was clear with low winds an encouraging start. We wanted to start at 07.00 to match the timing chart however a last minute nervous loo break seen me rushing to the start and we departed at 07.01. The caravan site proved a problem to find the way out, eventually the gate to the fells materialised and we felt we were now on our way. The ground was boggy from the heavy rains earlier in the week and we started to slip behind the schedule. I felt stressed my breathing was erratic and I could not seem to settle into a steady pace. I was concerned as I had expected to be ahead on this section. By Kirkstone Pass I had however gained the time back and had now relaxed into the event. I took a full 10mins at the Pass whist the pacers sorted the kit and Hilary fed and watered me.

Bill now took over the pacing and we set off on the 1000ft climb of Red Screes, the path is much improved and it now seemed to go OK. On Fairfield I felt the wind strength increase but it was northerly and felt it was assisting me. We took what we thought was a good line off Seat Sandal aiming for the path through the bracken but ended up descending steep slopes to the path a bit earlier one day I will get this bit right.

At Dunmail I was 4 mins up on the schedule so took an extended break before the haul up Steel Fell. Bill was continuing with me on this leg to Sty Head. The section from Steel Fell to High Raise is my least favourite, I always seemed to go a different way even when recceing and I feel that I am on a poor line at the time and wallowing in bogs but I guess it’s the same all over. The climb to Bowfell was the first point where I felt a real tiredness and found the climb quite hard., despite this though I was 6 mins up at Bowfell and now back on hard stoney tracks felt a lot better and made good time to Sty Head. We took the direct route off Great End following a recce last year, however this time we struggled to find a good line, I fell over and bashed my knee and regretted this route choice. It did however prove to be faster route choice and we arrived at Sty Head now 17mins ahead with a smiling Claire to greet us at the stretcher box with fresh supplies.

Bill would now drop off to the finish and Claire would pace me the final 13 miles and 5000ft, there was 1500ft of it facing us to ascend Great gable. I only took 3mins rest at Sty Head and set off ahead of Claire whist she sorted the kit. The path was good and I made good time on my schedule getting up in 28mins. The rocky sections now started in earnest which were made worse by a developing shower which made the rocks pretty lethal to descend and several tumbles ensued. Despite this we made good time over Kirkfell and Pillar with detours to Scoat Fell and Steeple. The evening was drawing in and we wanted to get as far as possible before the darkness slowed us down. A good descent off Haycock keeping well to the right avoided all the rocks and before Seatallan we met Bill again having ascended from Greendale with head torches which we had forgotten. Claire was pleased so she could miss out the last two summits and descend direct to Greendale. We needed the head torches by the start of the climb up Middlefell, I now wished that I had got out of bed earlier! We found the good descent path from the summit in the darkness and were soon finished albeit not much after Claire who had struggled down the main path in darkness, wishing she had waited for us beneath Middlefell.

The customary photos were taken on Greendale Bridge and although it was now 9.16pm Joss came out to meet us to round off an epic day out finishing in 14hrs 16mins. It was great to discuss the route with the master, his enthusiasm has not diminished, what an inspiration he is, I will treasure those few moments spent in his company!

P1030495

All we had to do now was get back to the campsite in Thornthwaite and a beer!

Thanks to my pacers – Bill and Claire and my wife Hilary for the road support and looking after all our needs so well, a team (albeit small team) effort

Bryan Stadden

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Jim Kelly (M65) – 01 August 2015

 

Originally planned as a joint attempt but with Colin (Ardron) unfortunately side-lined with an ankle problem all the attention, and pressure, was now on me, or at least that was how it seemed at 6pm on Friday night in Pooley Bridge. Most of our supporters had stayed on board for the solo attempt but there had been some late changes to the running order and I could not be sure exactly who would be where. The nerves and adrenalin precluded clear thinking, however, and I was anxious to be off.

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Led out by Phil Cheek, five of us set off on a clear but blowy evening for the long gradual pull up to the High Street range. Beyond the first summit the views soon opened up, the mountains set in profile against the setting sun and darkening cloud formations. I had always known that this would be the best of the four sections, and so it proved, although I needed to resist the temptation to use up too much energy on the long grassy runnable slopes. The forecast was for a worsening weather picture with rain and winds on the way but it was not until the descent to Kirkstone that any rain disturbed our contentment. Despite strict marshalling by Phil we were almost half an hour up on schedule.

A quick changeover, and the donning of full waterproof cover was the prelude to the ascent of Red Screes. Guided by Julie Gardner and Johnny, a Jack Russell with more miles in his legs than any veteran runner, and supported by Hazel Winder, we made good progress to the first summit on this leg. The water pouring down the stepped path, however, was a clear indicator of what lay ahead and from this point on we were up against it. For the remainder of the section we were lashed by driving rain, strong gusts of wind seeking out weaknesses in our cover and enveloped by the pitch darkness, worsened (if that seemed possible) by swirling mists. Our route to Hart Crag and Fairfield proved to be a regular struggle to stay on course, and it was difficult to stay warm. Hazel was reminded of some of the worst mountain rescue incidents she'd encountered though thankfully she didn't tell me of them until the following day. Despite everything, Julie kept us going in the right direction but descending Seat Sandal brought the new problem of mud. The studs on my tried and trusted fell shoes became embedded with mud and I slipped numerous times. Our relief getting down to Dunmail Raise was shared by those waiting; we were behind schedule but more than ready for breakfast.

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With two wildly contrasting legs behind me, and conscious of the long and rocky sections to come, I could reasonably have felt a little down-hearted at this stage, but surprisingly I was fairly confident that we would not lose any further time. A brief glimpse of the fabled blue moon near the top of Steel Fell was a boost to tired spirits and one of the delights of the whole round proved to be the magnificent sunrise that brightened the dull and tiring trudge up to High Raise. The gradual dawning of the new day, however, and an easing of the rain helped as we maintained our course. It was a matter of staying focused and continuing to eat and drink. John

Kavanagh's stories of adventures in the wacky world of kayaking were also a helpful distraction from occasional moments of self-doubt. Pinpoint navigation from Julie and Dave Tucker got us safely to Styhead with some minutes clawed back, and wasting little time we looked Great Gable in the face and started off on this long final leg.

DSCN1855

Still climbing fairly well, I was more concerned about the rocky descents to come. Carefully guided down Gable and Kirk Fell by Chris Cripps, we made slow but steady progress, helped by the more settled weather serving to dry the rocks. The oft-repeated advice to ‘just put one foot in front of another’ was followed faithfully as each hill was slowly ticked off. By the time we reached Haycock, it was clear that short of major incident I would be successful in getting round. Perhaps that caused me to lose some focus for from that point on, I really felt tired and had to fight the desire to just lie down in the sunshine but, by now joined by a fair crowd of supporters, I would have been lucky to get away with it! Seatallan was a cruel climb, a seemingly endless ascent that saw me at my weakest. Never has a top been more joyfully greeted.

Happy scenes on Middle Fell as the cameras clicked incessantly but standing still seemed to invite sleep so it was better to keep moving. The steep descent into Greendale through the high ferns seemed to go on forever but we kept up a steady jog until finally, after 22 hours 55 minutes of Lakeland traverse, I was on the bridge where I was greeted by Joss Naylor and all my supporters, warm in their congratulations and happy at my success. Despite my tiredness, it seemed almost a disappointment that it was all over, a challenge that had taken up so much of my time and energy over many weeks had finally been achieved.

During my preparations, I had noted that this weekend would be exactly 27 years since my successful Bob Graham Round, probably an unusual anniversary for celebrations. The occasion is traditionally commemorated in marriage with gifts of sculpture, rather apt perhaps as I thought about the huge rocks I’d encountered during the second half of the Joss Naylor Round.

I later learned that my successful attempt had earned me the accolade of oldest Macclesfield Harrier to have completed the Round. I was unsure about this honour as nobody welcomes reminders of their passing years, but a suggestion that I could be the first from any club to have got round during the time of a blue moon felt rather more agreeable. A record that should be safe for at least the next three years?

I could not have completed the Joss Naylor Challenge without the support of all those Macclesfield Harriers, past and present who gave so freely of their time and experience. The club is renowned for its fine record of achievement when it comes to long distance fell-running, and being able to call on that expertise was a key factor in my success. I am very grateful to you all.

 

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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Brian Melia (M50) – 08 August 2015

 

I arranged to meet my support Jamie Hutchinson and Matt Neale 5.00am at Dunmail to drop off their cars and then we left some water at the Kirkstone pass. I thought that would leave more than enough time to get to the start. However, we got there with 4 minutes to spare….a theme to be repeated later !

Typically, in the excitement we all needed the loo ! In the ensuing rush, I had to leave at 6.00 am without Jamie or Matt who were still occupied. I briefly explained to another runners road support I had to go…. as I did so I fell badly over the road sign at the start. I was a bit dazed, but left with a nasty large cut on my left leg which bled, and cut hand, but I could not stop now.

The day was perfect as we ran up Arthur’s pike; I made it on time, which was a relief. Jamie and Matt were now alongside. The First few hills were to schedule. I seemed to lose a couple of minutes at Raven Howe, which was a surprise, and the theme continued over Kidsty Pike to Thornythwaite Beacon over Pike Howe and down to Kirkstone. I was due to arrive at 8.35,am, but was there at 8.44am…whoops. The ground was a little wet in one or two places, but not that bad. I did not stop at Kirkstone and ran straight through up Red Screes, just 8 minutes down here. I had a couple of falls, which slowed me down going to Hart Crag on wet grass. Then the cloud inversion made navigation tricky. We lost a further few minutes and by Fairfield I was 15 minutes down. I tried to run, but I got to Tom Phillips 20 minutes down at Dunmail. Tom encouraged me up Steel Fell, but I slowed more and was 20 minutes down at Steel fell. He said not to worry, but I was a little concerned how we going to claw some time back. Over to Raise on the longest and most difficult passage I lost more time. I was really trying and although the ground was very wet over to Raise, I could not see how I was loosing so much time. Tom tried to motivate me. The trip up Bow fell and over Great End down to Styhead, steadied my loss at 40 minutes. Then Jamie met me and Tom at Styhead with supplies (not enough).

I suggested to Tom that we stop, but he said we get up Great Gable and make an assessment! Good advice. After a quick chat I was away and dropped the deficit to 36 minutes on Gable. It was just what was needed. We both gave me a talking to and we put in extra effort down the Gulley and scree run over to Kirk Fell. I received some support from other Joss Challengers going up Kirk fell, which really helped!

 

BM01

 

By Kirk Fell I was 31 minutes down. I then I tried to speed up more. I did not want to come back again.. I could see it in Tom’s eyes that he was concerned. By Steeple I was 33 minutes. The next section was down Haycock and up Seatallan suddenly I was only 26 minutes behind.. Things were looking up. By Middle Fell 20 minutes down. Tom made it very clear that I could do this if I pushed on hard. We then ran on towards Joss’s bridge in Greendale. I finally arrived at 17.55.38 secs. Less than 5 minutes to spare. I was due to arrive in my schedule at 17.40. I was delighted to have finished; both Tom and I were jiggered, but elated.

Joss trotted over to congratulate us and we had a great chat,

Thought you weren’t going to make it, Lad’ was his first comment!

Jamie arrived later; he had been snoozing in the van. I think he thought I had blown it!!

clip_image002What a special day out on the Lakeland Fells

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Geoff Cox (M60) – 04 July 2015

 

It was black as the Devil’s armpit at 3am on Pooley Bridge, and the first leg was plainly going to decisive in determining the success of the day. I had superstars Martyn and Helen Price navigating and pacing, so I was in safe hands there, while Ken Murphy was the first of a strong support crew from Lonsdale Fellrunners. Conditions were relatively benign in the valley, but as soon as we gained some height they deteriorated fast. It was like being in a washing machine, being thrown around in a strange combination of warm, blustery winds, torrential rain, thick clag and occasional flashes of lightning. We managed to keep moving at a decent pace through all of this and we were 20 minutes up on schedule by High Street. There was now sufficient daylight to watch the thunderstorms approaching and I was constantly monitoring escape routes should one be heading directly for us. We were almost forced off the tops by the very last storm, but this swung away at the last minute and we watched with some trepidation as lightning struck down into Red Screes - that’s where we would be standing soon!

Geoff_Cox_01Geoff Cox and Martyn Price In the ‘washing machine’ on Leg 1. Photo Ken

But first a cup of tea courtesy of John Doyle and the well-oiled LFR road support team at Kirkstone. This was an interesting experience, trying to drink the tea faster than the rain filled the cup again. Martyn, Helen and I were to be joined on Leg 2 by the massively experienced duo of Graham Holden and Paul Bates. “Oh Good” I thought, “Paul’s just off a plane from Japan so he’ll take it steady” It didn’t take long until I was huffing and puffing trying to hang onto him as he disappeared into the Red Scree mists. That was the start of a good fast leg that put us further up on schedule by the time we dropped into the circus that was Dunmail Raise. Several BG support crews and my own cavalcade of heroes lined both sides of the road and it would have been easy to get carried away in the social whirl of so many friends gathered in one place. However, Martyn and Helen were handing me into the stern hands of Tom Phillips for the rest of the day, so I had to make sure that I replayed that privilege with a business-like approach.

IMG_20150704_094539

 

Mike Langrish assembled the Leg 3 team for his meet and greet photograph (thanks Mike), then it was off up Steel Fell. Tom Phillips and Penny Attwood took charge, allowing a LFR contingent of Dave Sykes, Andy Smillie and Coach Paul Modley to entertain me with a steady stream of irreverent drivel, pork pies and poor jokes. The weather was improving fast, we were well up on schedule and moving at a steady pace, largely due to Tom’s cunning lines. It had only been a couple of weeks since Tom completed his JNLC in under 11 hours so we were taking his very direct routes between checkpoints. Tom’s approach is that a straight line is a fast line, so we covered ground that I would never have had the audacity to attempt - I certainly didn’t see many of them during my recce’s! The final descent off Great End was so unlikely that, looking back up the slope, it was hard to believe that there was a way down, let alone a way down that took yet more time out of the schedule.

 

We entered “Styhead Central” at the height of rush-hour, and a large LFR party had an opulent buffet laid out on top of the stretcher box. More pork pies and chocolate milk kept me occupied while the very select Final Leg team got organised. I knew that we had plenty of time in hand, but I knew that there was still a decent chunk of the Lake District to traverse, so there was no room for complacency. Tom, Penny and my guardian angel, Ellie Maddocks, set off up Gable, Penny soon dropping back to hand over to LFR’s fast-charging Dutchman, Ronald Hummelink. Tom’s cunning lines down ridiculous scree chutes continued: I focused on staying upright, Ellie whooped and giggled, while Ronald muttered about he didn’t get much chance to practice on this kind of ground in the Netherlands. But Tom was saving the best until last and the scree descent off Haycock was improbable to say the least. I was getting a little weary by now and was glad of the grass trods and easy going that would take us through the rest of the run. The long drag up Seatallan warranted a few choice words but I was expecting it to be a pull so it soon came and went.

P1050937Geoff Cox, Ellie Maddocks and Ronald Hummelink descending Haycock. Photo Tom Phillips

 

I started to relax once Middefell summit was under my feet, and that sense of achievement was accelerated by the welcoming committee who were making their way up the finishing slopes to meet me. The crews from Dunmail and Styhead, having driven round to Wasdale, had been making a solid contribution to the local economy in the bar of the Wasdale Head. I tried to retain some dignity as I hoped that Joss might be there to meet me despite our arrival a long way up on schedule. Sure enough, he strolled down to the bridge to shake hands and offer a few words of congratulations to me, and to Tom whom he’d not been around to greet a couple of weeks earlier. A huge privilege and one that put the icing on the cake of what was pretty much a perfect day. Thanks to all who supported me in achieving such a heartfelt ambition.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Steve Cliff (M55) – 18 July 2015

 

The challenge started a little earlier for me than for most people, when I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in April 2015. MND is a particularly awful degenerative disease with no cure and a poor prognosis.

Once I had, in some format, reconciled myself with this unexpected development in my life, I decided that I should at least try and make a difference to those poor unsupported souls that are given the same prognosis. The Joss Naylor Challenge has always been in my mind, now was the time to strike with a clear goal to raise money for MND research and support those diagnosed with the disease.

Three months training later and I was standing on Pooley Bridge at 5am with a crowd of twelve to cheer me off. I wanted six months to train, but didn’t have the luxury of time. With so little training under my belt, I knew I had to make the most of my strength in the early sections, and just “hang in” for the tougher second half.

SC_01Focussed at the start on Pooley Bridge

My support totalled nearly 80 and it is great to pore over the lists and to see where everyone got to! For every one that was able to disrupt their busy schedule to be there, there were another two that could not make it due to commitments. These followed the tracker instead, and managed to get fantastic messages of joy to me.

Without exception, every supporter was an absolute pleasure, inspiration and joy to be with and to see. Rob Woodall and Carwyn Phillips took me through Section one. Carwyn went on to finish the whole challenge with me …. don’t you just love this man! … He’s too young for a Joss – but such great talent. This level of support was given across the day by everyone I met – sacrifice and dedication - enough to make a grown man cry; and I did. We started section one with two and finished with three on the final stretch.

SC_02Fuel stop at Kirkstone Pass

From the off I had doubts about finishing; headwind gusts of 30mph meant that we had to work hard. The 3h 20m schedule was tough to keep, so instead we smashed it in 2h 59m! I did wonder whether it had taken too much out of me. A crowd of nineteen at Kirkstone, fuelled my spirit; and I was able to get up Red Screes in 20 minutes – a time normally left for the younger 50 to 55 year olds. Supporters started coming out of every rock on this section, and we finished with more than we started, and 35 minutes up on a 14 hour 40 minute schedule. We started with two on this section and finished with five.

 

SC_03Descending Seat Sandal

A crowd of twenty seven met me at Dunmail Raise, and I threw away any doubts of completing. We ran up Steel Fell with my two eldest grandchildren in tow - well done, Emma and Harry. Once we got to Bowfell, I could see that the second and most difficult part of the challenge would be in mist with an occasional view, at the bottom of each mountain. These are the mountains fell runners love – difficult, complex terrain; rocks to dance over; secret routes to pass onto the next contender. My rock dancing was limited to uphill, as I struggled moving lightly over large rocks in the windy conditions, and always protecting the muscles that MND might one day claim.

SC_04After Rossett Pike the clag descended and it became hard to move across slippy rocks in the wind

 

SC_05Descending Great End

We were a “push-me-pull-you” train - I was strong and leading on the uphill and the supporters were flowing over the rocky ground as we descended. We started with six supporters and ended with eleven on section three.

The mid-section support in the heart of our mountains at Sty Head (with no road access), was attended by twenty five; I was offered tea in a china cup on a tray, the napkin held down by the finest small rocks from Great Gable.

SC_06Tea in a china cup at Sty Head

 

The weather hardly changed through the day with strong winds blowing throughout; the only exception was during the fourth and final section, when a little extra spice of driving rain was added.

 

SC_07Descending Red Gully

 

Section four was going really well - climb strong, descend steady - when the driving rain started on Scoat Fell – I froze to the core, and felt hypothermic. Steeple, such a sweet little mountain, and one of my favourite spots proved a chore. I got the distinct impression that everyone was looking forward to the end of the run, so I put my head down for the final three tops that form the backdrop to the finish. Joss Naylor led the team down Middle Fell – no greater privilege could have been delivered to me. I would guess that twelve of us started this section and we finished with twenty nine. Either figure could have been more, neither was less; numbers were getting bigger all the time.

The twenty nine coming off the fell were greeted by another forty or more on Greendale Bridge – a glorious finish; timed at 13 hours 53 minutes. A healthy one hour seven minutes ahead of the 15 hours I was allowed.

SC_08Joss, Steve & Wynn

 

Steve’s original report with more photos can be downloaded from here.

Steve’s JustGiving page is here

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Andy Watts (M65) – 20 June 2015

 

We set off from Pooley Bridge at 4:45 on this my second Joss Naylor traverse (the first having been in 2010, aged 60).  This was to be a ‘lightweight’ day out, with just two pacers, Joe Llewellyn taking legs 1 and 2 to Dunmail, and Ian Smallwood going through from there to the finish, with the two of them sorting out car transportation between them.  In the event we had several more helpers and at times became quite a large party.

The weather forecast was for intermittent rain and light winds, and so it turned out, except that we were in clag all day barring a couple of hours in the afternoon.  The first stage went well, and we found our way up to High Street and down to Kirkstone with no problems.  I had planned to walk straight through at Kirkstone, but we were joined by Nick and Clare Harris and a climbing friend Jonathan, and paused briefly for introductions.  Route-finding over to Hart Crag was difficult, and we ended up going North from Scandale Tarn and following the wall as a useful handrail.  Nick demonstrated the grassy route down from Fairfield, but I stuck to the zig-zags.  At this stage I was wearing Hokas – really good shoes for long distances on rock, but hopeless on wet grass!  Coming down Seat Sandal was a bit hair-raising with slidy shoes on the steep slope, but we reached Dunmail in good shape, if rather down on schedule.

 

IMG_20150620_112818At Dunmail, Andy Watts is third from the left. (photo: Mike Langrish)

It was good to be met by Mike Langrish at Dunmail, and to be joined by Geoff Cox.  After a change of shoes and socks, and a full ‘expedition foods’ serving of porridge with strawberries (800 calories and thoroughly to be recommended) we set off up Steel Fell 25 minutes down.  This was a very wet section, with light persistent rain adding to the heavy clag, but we kept up reasonable time until the descent off Great End, which seemed to take for ever.  This section deserves a thorough recce, as looking back on it from Sty Head Pass there seems to be a grassy route down on the Western flank.  We stopped at Sty Head only long enough to liberate a couple of hot-cross buns (excellent mountain food), a banana, and to top up the jelly baby pocket.  A brief window of sunshine gave superb views.

At this stage tiredness was beginning to set in, and I was losing a few minutes on each peak, particularly on the descents.  The clag returned on the way up to Scoat Fell, and we were treated to the rare sight of a perfectly circular rainbow on the mist down in the valley.  I’m reliably informed that this phenomenon is called a Brocken Spectre, and it was very impressive, if just about impossible to photograph – my poor attempt turned out looking more like a sheep in a fog.  Route finding on this leg is not too demanding, though we had to cast around after Haycock to find the runnable way down.  I was surprised to find clear trods all the way across to Seatallan, as I remember having to go just on compass bearing five years ago.  My descent of Middlefell must have been painful to behold as I was now going very slowly on the rocky path, and I lost a further 15 minutes on this section alone.  Joss came out to meet us at Greendale Bridge, and it was great to have a few minutes chatting – it was limited to no more than a few minutes partly because it was already getting dark, and also because the midges were out in force.

The final result was a successful traverse, taking 17 hours 40 minutes, approximately 3 hours more than I took in 2010 but still well within the 24 hour limit.  I think we probably lost an hour or so due to the weather, and the accumulation of minor route errors caused by the clag. An hour at least was due to taking the whole event at quite a relaxed pace, determined to enjoy it rather than go for a time.  But part of the difference must be due to the legs being 5 years older than last time!

 

AndyWattsAndy and Ian at Ore Gap – thanks to Geoff Cox for the photo.

A great day out on the hills, and thanks to Joe and Ian for pacing, and to Clare, Nick, Jonathan and Geoff for their company.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Jenny Helme (W65) – 14 June 2014


History: How did I come to find myself on Pooley Bridge, lined up with Carol, Dave and Simon,
seconds counting down to 10pm, ready for the off?

The Back Story: It started last year when Carol and I enjoyed a couple of long distance walks
and, as a result, she suggested trying the JNLC as a good follow up. “What did it entail?” I
asked. “Oh, something similar to what we’ve done ­ but to be completed in 24hrs.” I felt doubtful
but knew I’d enjoy the training and see how I got on.

In November I met the guys from the LOC, a great bunch and good company, who were already
well into their training schedule and my doubts increased. This was not going to be an amiable
amble in the fells. However it felt good to be stretched.

My training was patchy due to major family events tying me up for over 2 months but I did what I
could in the scraps of time between playing with grandchildren and cooking for crowds. By May it looked as if I was committed. Carol and I agreed we’d support each other, keep a steady and comfortable pace as we just wanted to finish and still be standing at the end.


Helpers: Leg 1: Andy, neighbour, friend and outdoor ed. instructor, paced us well and kept
conversation lively and interesting so time flew by.
Leg 2: Pete, husband and fell runner, really enjoyed photographing the dawn and had to keep
running to catch up.
Legs 3 & 4: John, my son, experienced BG pacer, encouraged us and kept a close eye on when
we were showing signs of fatigue and insisted we ate and drank.
Roady: Mhairi, daughter­ in­ law, 7 months pregnant and ultra distance runner, had prepared me
so well and had the stops well organized.

Highs ­ so many!
● The weather was really on our side but walking into the dawn over Red Screes was
magical ­ a kaleidoscope of pastel colours and drifts of mist. And then Carol then found a
hidden nest of newly hatched pipit chicks.
● Thanks to Andy’s nifty map ap. we picked up leg 1 checkpoints with ease ­ very
reassuring in the dark
● The camaraderie and support at official stops, particularly the party atmosphere at Sty
Head, Selwyn Wright meeting us at Rossett Pike, Ian Charters with his band of
meeters and greeters on Black Sail Pass was almost surreal and Mhairi meeting us on
Middle Fell, we couldn’t fail to be lifted by the tremendous good will.
● A peanut butter sandwich that restored energy on the plod up High Raise.
● Selwyn’s magic coffee. It refired all cylinders and kept me going to the end.
● The incremental gaining of time at each checkpoint
● Our preparation ­ we’d worked on finding the best routes in a few tricky sections and
were delighted that navigation went smoothly.

Lows ­ so few!
● Leg 2’s bogs and slog up the squelchy slopes of High Raise when doubts crept in as legs went leaden and energy dissipated.
● A couple of times Carol wondered if her knee was would last out ­ but it did!

By Haycock I was mechanically ticking off the ups and downs. By repeating, just put one foot in
front of the other you’ll do it ­ and they did ­ and we’d done it. Wow! As we came down the final
slope and met Joss himself, his delight at our achievement was the icing on the cake.

20140614_001_wasdale-131Carol, Joss and Jenny at Greendale Bridge

I had had no previous experience with which to compare the physical challenges of the JNLC
and had started out with no expectations other than to give it a go. To complete and still feel fine
is one of the biggest surprises of my life. Isn’t it good that, at 67, there are still new things to find
out about yourself!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Simon Cane (M65) – 14 June 2014

 

It was in November 2013 that Dick Towler invited any aging members of the Lakeland Orienteering Club to join him in preparing for the JNC, to be done on or after his birthday in June 2014. It seemed like a good idea to join in the fortnightly training sessions, and then assess nearer the time whether it seemed feasible to complete the challenge. So I joined in a series of ever longer speed-walks in weather that always seemed to challenge the efficiency of our thermal gear and waterproofs.

By the beginning of May, having completed just over two of the JNC legs in one go and in reasonable time, I decided I could no longer avoid joining in the challenge! Leaving everything to the last minute meant a first recce of leg 4 nine days before the day, and the need to share Dave Nield’s support crew on the route. I did, however, have the masterful support of my sister, Diana, and daughter, Sarah, at the rest stops. The week before the challenge was spent resting, planning and buying the food & kit for each rest stop & wondering if it was worth trying to sleep during the day before our 10pm start. The omens were good, possibly: it was Friday the 13th, and a full moon!

The first leg went very calmly - there was little wind. The light held for about an hour before head-torches were needed, and after a couple of hours the cloud started to break up and we got memorable sights of the moon reflecting in the nearby small tarns, and shimmering in distant Windermere. We arrived at Kirkstone almost half an hour ahead of schedule, disturbing a rather sleepy support crew!

The rest stop at Kirkstone went all too quickly, but the next leg over Fairfield in the growing light went without problems. In the distance ahead, however, the clouds seemed to be clinging to the peaks around Great Gable, and the visibility was less than during the night. We were still going faster than our schedule and by Dunmail Raise were over an hour ahead.

By High Raise I was in unknown territory, as we were now exceeding the longest distance we had done in training. All went well until Bowfell, where weariness set in, and I found I was unable to take in any significant amounts of food - even a single jelly baby made me feel vaguely sick. I began to doubt my ability to finish. As we descended a less than ideal route off Great End I saw Dick Towler ahead of us, despite him having started two hours after us - he was definitely going like a train!

At Sty Head I managed to eat a little, and was revived somewhat by two cups of tea, but setting off up Great Gable I struggled to keep up with Dave and his crew. However, summiting Great Gable after a slower pace & realising I could catch up on the downhill seemed to reassure me and confidence returned. At the same time as my confidence returned the cloud descended and little was seen of the next five summits. In addition there was a short shower and more wind as we went through Scoat Fell. In the mist we took an unintended direction of descent from Haycock - but the loss of time on this section was irrelevant to us as, despite out exhaustion, we had still be making faster progress than planned - and barring accidents knew we would be within the 24 hour limit. At this point Cliff Etherden caught us up - he also had started two hours after us!

The downhill finish was a dream and I did a totally unnecessary sprint to the bridge to overtake Cliff and finish to the applause of my club mates, including a shattered Dick, who had broken the 18 hour barrier. More importantly, there was Joss himself to greet us all in - a memorable end to the challenge. An hour later Carol McNeill & Jenny Helme appeared to complete our band of six achieving sub 24-hour times.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Pat Goodall (W60) – 30 May 2015

 

What a day!

After all the planning, recceing and preparing it finally arrived. Luckily I was fine but the few days before and the day itself were not without concern particularly regarding the support crew. Two supporters were allocated to each leg, totalling eight, but just before the event I lost two to injuries and even my two reserves were either injured or having to work. So I was down to six instead of eight. However, one of the six agreed to run 2 legs and another 1 ½ legs. Then as we drove up to the Lakes there was a phone call with a further problem so another one down. I had just 5 running supporters with a road crew of 4.

Never-the-less, my partner, Jeremy, woke me with a cup of tea at 2.15 and I set off at 4.00am on a cold but clear morning from Pooley Bridge with two supporters. It was so light we didn’t even need head torches. This is a lovely runnable leg and I really enjoyed seeing the sun come up. I was well wrapped up so didn’t suffer with the cold. However, one of the guys wasn’t feeling great so wouldn’t be able to do leg 3 as planned. We arrived at Kirkstone 3 hours 12 minutes later, 24 minutes up on my time schedule. I had decided to run on the women’s 55 schedule, to try and do less than 16 hours although I was allowed 18. There I was fed porridge and coffee and went off 10 minutes later with Janet, eating a sandwich as I went.

It was still chilly on the tops although bright and clear. We walked and chatted up to Red Screes then set off running towards Hart Crag. It started to warm up a little but suddenly I realised that Janet was dropping back. She had suffered a cold for a few days but thought that she was better but now she felt weak and dizzy. She needed to sit down. She decided to ring her partner, Paul, who was at Dunmail Raise ready for the next leg and he set off up Seat Sandal to find us. It was a worrying time but it all worked out in the end. There I was met by Mike Langrish. Despite the problems I was still 25 minutes ahead of schedule. This time it was rice pudding and coffee.

Paul and I set off up Steel Fell. It’s a long drag up to High Raise, a lot of it over boggy ground – a nightmare when the clag is down but it remained clear for us. Then Rossett Pike and up Billy’s Rake to Bowfell (a daunting prospect the first time you do it). Next along to Esk Pike and Great End and then down The Band to Sty Head. What a joy to be met at Sty Head by 7 Totley AC members. Drinks of tea and more rice pudding but I drew the line at being fed it while still eating a peanut butter sandwich!

I set off 10 minutes later with two supporters and I was still 20 minutes up on my schedule. Up Great Gable then down and up Kirk Fell and down Red Gully. Steve left us as planned to make his way down Black Sail Pass. I found out later that he had developed a tight calf after leg 1 but still did those two peaks with us as my chief navigator. Just Colin and I now and I was slowing down. I had taken one painkiller for a tight muscle in the top of my right leg and I was struggling to eat but I did not get grumpy. I knew I would finish but could I break 15 ½ hours? Colin was very encouraging even as I slogged up Seatallan, the cruel penultimate peak. Then as we came down from there I spotted Jeremy’s bright yellow hat (this had been my beacon at several points throughout the day). Just Middle Fell to go and the final run down to Greendale Bridge was great to be met by 5 friends….and, of course, Joss himself along with his wife, Mary. I was very happy with my time of 15 hours 19 minutes. Huge thanks to the whole team – I couldn’t have done it without them.

I have to give special thanks to Jeremy for the time spent planning and worrying about all this, I know that he’d rather have been running down a road somewhere than being led down scree gullies or over boulder fields.

As I say, what a day! And I raised well over £1000 for the charity Reverse Rett.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Susan Davis (W55) – 23 May 2015

 

 

Leg 1- ‘Cuckoos, Larks and Deer’ (Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass)

I’m off at 5.30am on a beautiful morning accompanied by four fell friends including Paul Hainsworth, a sub 12 hour ‘Joss’ man, and the sound of cuckoos calling. The pace was brisk due to a combination of nerves and excitement as I just could not wait to be on the fells. The morning and the weather were wonderful; bright sun and a cool but gentle breeze. We ran on with lark song ringing out over the fells, the heavy dew on the grass glistened and sparkled like diamonds and we could see for miles as the tops came and went with relative ease. A herd of deer scampered off High Street as we approached and it just felt great to be alive with my heart full of joy. I knew there would be tough times during the day ahead but I was ‘in the moment’ and feeling good. In what seemed like no time at all we were speeding down to Kirkstone Pass to be greeted by a large group of my support crew with beaming smiles, arriving 27 minutes up on schedule!

 

Leg 2 – ‘Buoyant Banter’ (Kirkstone Pass to Dunmail Raise)

And so for leg 2, or day 2 as it was for me because, as part of my mental copping strategy, I was treating each leg as a new day! With five friends for company the sun was still bright and I don’t usually react very well to the heat so thankfully, the breeze was still cool. There are only four summits on this leg and three were ticked off without incident. Suddenly, as I started ascending Seat Sandal, cramp took hold of my right hamstring. I hit the deck clutching my leg and cursing as I am rarely troubled with cramp. Kevin Bray, my navigator, came to the rescue and, as I lay on my back, he stretched my leg and the cramp was soon gone. On reaching Dunmail unscathed, I was again greeted by my amazing and happy support team who were joined by Monica Shone and Mike Langrish as the JNLC ‘meet and greet’ representatives. I arrived 34 minutes ahead of schedule. I was pleased to be in the shade at this stop -provided by Mike Hughes holding an umbrella!

 

Leg 3 – ‘The Leg of Gentlemen’ (Dunmail Raise to Sty Head)

I had not enjoyed my recces of this section as it involves a stiff climb up Steel Fell and a long march to the next two summits. No time for negative thoughts though as this was ‘a new day’ and I was still feeling strong. A steady pace was set by my all male pacing crew led by John Telfer and I needed to keep the momentum going to the top of Steel Fell. My team told me I had done fine on the climb and so we pushed on to High Raise and Rossett Pike. On arrival at the latter I checked that I still had time on my side and stopped briefly to eat. I felt very humble as we started the ascent of Bowfell. From the start of the day I had been surrounded by so much love and affection I realised just how lucky I am to have such wonderful family and friends. After suffering a touch of nausea ascending Great End I soon recovered and got to Sty Head in one piece. I had a slightly smaller support team here but they were no less enthusiastic.

 

Leg 4 – ‘The Final Push’ (Styhead to Greendale Bridge)

For the final leg I was joined by my husband Geoff and Peter Moralee (both sub 15 hour ‘Joss’ men) plus four other pacers including Kevin on his third leg of the day and Paul Evans on his second! Geoff was probably more nervous than me on this leg as he knew just how much completing the challenge in less than 16 hours would mean to me. The weather was still fabulous with views to die for as we pushed ever onwards. However, the nausea returned while ascending Kirk Fell but Steph Scott assured me that I was going faster than I thought and so I plodded on. I asked for a time check at the top of Pillar and, still well ahead of schedule, I decided a short stop would do me some good. Feeling refreshed by this the next two tops, Scoat Fell and Steeple, went over quite easily. Things got harder on Haycock and on starting the ascent of Seatallan I hadn’t gone very far when I realised all was not well and that I was suffering from heat stroke. According to Kevin, even my freckles went white at this point! Recalling my late father’s words “slow but sure gets there in the end” was sufficient encouragement to see me onto Seatallan and over Middle Fell where my brother was a welcome sight. A brief pause to enjoy a fabulous view of Wastwater Screes was followed by a slowish plod to Greendale Bridge and a fantastic welcome from my supporters and Joss himself, who had left a sixtieth birthday party in order to offer me his congratulations, so it was a perfect end to a perfect day finishing in 15 hours 32 minutes.

Susan Davis (Northumberland Fell Runners / Elvet Striders)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Tom Phillips (M50) – 16 May 2015

 

2015-05-16 07.55.11

Pooley Bridge

Pooley Bridge - 7.50 am.

The forecast strong winds and heavy rain overnight had not materialised into anything too bad, and the views towards High Street suggested that things may improve as cloud levels seemed to be rising. The time splits on the first three legs for the V50-54 age group are punishingly fast, and there is no room for any errors in route choice or delays of any kind. I had a really enthusiastic team with me on the first two sections. Andy Gibbons had supported a JNC run before, Rachel Hill was chomping at the bit to get a long run in, and young Joshua, only 18 had come with my on my recce of this section (in somewhat warmer weather) a few weeks earlier. Also along was Brian Melia, a really experienced ultra runner and willing to have a go at the full route.

Along the first section to High Street we had great views across Ullswater and over to Striding Edge and Swirral Edge which were in sharp focus in the early morning night. One advantage of the recent cool wet weather was the the perfect visibility. The early cloud was clearing and the weather was improving. I dropped a couple of minutes behind schedule, but I wasn't overly concerned as I new there would be chances to gain this back later in the day. Arriving at Kirkstone Pass I had already regained some time and was a couple of minutes up, my recent recce of the descent from Pike Howe had paid of! Joss's envoy was there to meet us and as I felt good I only stopped for just over a minute before starting the stiff climb of over 1,000 feet to Red Screes summit. I was met by some friends on the top and we ran along the busy paths to Fairfield in good weather but with strong winds from the West at times. Brian had fallen behind a bit at Stoneycove Pike and and it was not looking like he would catch us up at the moment. Taking a fast scree descent from Fairfield another friend Jules Coleman ran along with us for a bit, but my buoyant mood and fast pace over the rough terrain meant a couple of my support runners were loosing contact.

At Dunmail I was 7 minutes up on schedule  after 4 hours 18 minutes of running and not far of a full marathon distance already completed. Now I was down to just one support runner, Steve Rhodes. The rough ground between Steel Fell and Rosset Pike is my least favourite section of the challenge, lots of grassy trackless and boggy sections and still that relentless schedule! Just keep plugging away and hang in there I kept thinking. At times I would run in the shelter of Steve to make the going easier as the strong winds weren't relenting on the exposed ground. His jacket inflated the same way you see with motorcyclist hammering down the motorway. Reading Joss's report on the first completion of this run he had done exactly the same!

Bowfell marks the return to "proper mountains" and I was 10 minutes up on schedule with the final summit of Great End looking quite close now. Positive thoughts really are a important on challenges like this, and I was looking forward to the descent down The Band from Great End. A few weeks earlier in blizzard conditions I had nearly come to grief on this descent though, tripping on my poles I had flipped head over heels off a ledge, fallen 10 feet and cracked rib (I was lucky to land on grass not rocks!). Today though the rocks and boulders were dry and although I deviated from the path towards the bottom I battled on down poor scree and boulders and reached Sty Head 16 minutes up.

 

My support crew (Penny, Phil and young Joshua back again) were waiting at the stretcher box and so sitting down briefly I gulped down some energy drink and eat a few bits and pieces. I got up but my team protested saying you've only been here a minute, are you going already?!

 

2015-05-16 15.28.30

 

So I sat down to have my photo taken with Penny’s Collie dog who was enjoying the adventure as well. They were going to contour around Gable and Kirkfell to meet us further along the route.

 

I was now lucky enough to have Dave Swift as well as Steve for support to the end. It's a big ascent of nearly 1,500 feet up to the summit of Gable, but I felt amazingly fresh and rattled it off in 27 minutes, well ahead of schedule now! The winds were dropping and the majestic line of the next section of the route lifted my spirits further. Diving down the steep gullies to the West of Gable we whooped with joy on the superb scree descent. We had beaten the support team though as we could see them on the approach path half a mile away. More time gained over Kirkfell and Pillar before the brief detours to Scoat Fell and Steeple. Steve was tiring after is superb support from Dunmail and just running with Dave now I pointed out the last three summits, Haycock, Seatallan and Middle Fell. So close now! More great scree from Haycock and the long grassy run to Seatallan allowed me to reflect on what a privilege it was to have a day in the mountains like this. Late afternoon sunshine illuminated the Wasdale Screes and the peaks of the central lakes I had traversed earlier now looked very distant.

There was some more scree to be enjoyed from Seatallan and then the last short ascent of the day made me realise I didn't have much energy left. I had judged my pace well and shook hands with Dave on the final summit before starting on the last descent to Greendale. Another friend, Simon met us on our descent and got some nice photos of the view down to Wasdale.

wasdale

 

What I didn't know was his partner Carol had tried to meet up with us on this leg as well, but she had missed us by minutes on a couple of occasions. Something that had also happened to Joss on his first run when Chris Brasher tried and failed to intercept him.

 

2015-05-16 18.50.27

10 hours 48 minutes was much faster than I expected, my team had done me proud.

Thank you Joss for a great day, I will be back.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Katy Thompson (W60) – 21 June 2014

 

It was 3.45 on a beautiful morning as George drove me and Mike Wallis down to Pooley Bridge where Ivan Whigham and Mick Dobson were waiting on the bridge. We set off at exactly 4 am, along the lake and through the campsite past our tents. As we climbed up to the ridge to Arthur’s Pike there was a thin layer of cloud looking like snow on the Helvellyn ridge and we could see over to Fairfield where I’d be in a few hours time. We kept a steady pace, walking as soon as I was even slightly out of breath. I was feeling much better than I expected at that time of the morning and we reached Arthur’s Pike 13 minutes ahead of schedule.

It was clear all the way to High Raise but then the mist blew across as we reached Kidsty Pike. As I touched the cairn Mike kept a sharp eye on the quad bike track across to Rampsgill Head. Then the long climb up to High Street. It seemed a long time before the trig point emerged out of the mist. Even Thornthwaite Beacon couldn’t be seen until we were very close.

The wind got up as we crossed Threshthwaite Cove, but at least it blew away the mist. Mike had great lines so it was no wonder that we were gaining on the schedule all the way. A steep grassy descent brought us to Kirkstone 40 mins ahead of schedule. George was ready with a drink and boiled potatoes – I didn’t eat them all but Bracken was quite willing to help me! My son Paul, Simon and Linda were there ready to support me on Leg 2.

We followed the path up Red Screes then across to Hart Crag, with Linda taking photos all the way. We pretty well kept to schedule over this leg, gaining just another 7 minutes. Simon ran ahead down to Dunmail to warn them we were coming. A good job as Jean and Wendy had not been there long and Lisa only arrived as I was changing my tights for shorts. I had been warned my first leg schedule was too slow but had decided not to change it as I didn’t know how I would feel and I thought it would be better to be up rather than down. But if I had changed it there might not have been such a rush at Dunmail

Linda carried on for the first part of the next leg. So it was five Clayton ladies that set off on the steep climb up Steel Fell. Jean was constantly reminding me to eat and drink, while Wendy was more interested in how many loo stops I had had! We didn’t see anyone until we reached High Raise just before noon. This was a busy place and there were plenty of people willing to take photos of the group. Karin and Doug joined us at Stake Pass across to Rossett Gill. Then it was the steep climb up to Bowfell where we lost the path slightly and tested Lisa’s fear of heights.

The terrain from Bowfell to Styhead is very rocky, but somehow the rocks don’t seem quite so bad when someone else is leading you across them and you’re chatting with friends.

Jude, Sarah, Andrew, Michelle and Dave were waiting at Styhead with extra water, food and a wet flannel. Jean, Lisa, Jude and Sarah left us to descend to Wasdale. The rest of us climbed up the steep path to Great Gable and down the rocky descent to Beck Head. Up Kirkfell and down the steep red gully. Then the longest climb of the day up to Pillar. Once there I felt confident that I could complete the challenge. Round Black Crags and up the giant blocks of rock to Scoat Fell, then out and back to Steeple. Although I was feeling pretty tired by now, I was still gaining on my schedule, especially on the ascents.

By this time I was finding it difficult to eat and drink and the steep climb up Seatallan was very hard; but there was not much further to go. Off Seatallan and then the final climb to Middlefell. Jean met us on the summit and there was only the descent through the bracken to Greendale Bridge and the welcoming committee, including Joss himself.

After numerous photos on the bridge everyone was telling me I’d gone green and then I was sick on the bridge. I was sick several times during the night and queasy all next day, but by the end of the week felt ok to do the Dollar Race! This may have been a mistake as it completely knocked me out for the following week!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Mike Hobson (M65) – 22 June 2014

 

11.30pm on Saturday 21st June. Two JNLC contenders, Roger Smith and I, both of Lakeland Orienteering Club (LOC) and our respective supporters, Pete Kidd and Iain Smith, sat on the bridge at Pooley Bridge waiting for midnight.  Roger and I were nervous, not only for what lay ahead, but also with the knowledge that the previous weekend, six fellow members of LOC completed the round comfortably within the 24hour schedule. Neither of us needed to say that the weight of expectancy was sitting heavily on our shoulders!


Midnight and we were on our way. And what a magnificent night it was!  All went like clockwork and at Kirkstone Iain handed me over to Tony and Pauline Richardson, fellow members of LOC and great friends. Roger kept his stop brief and set off well ahead of me. (In fact I wasn’t to see him again all day).  Kirkstone to Dunmail saw, for me, three ‘bad’ bits of the round dealt with – the descent off Fairfield, the ascent onto Seat Sandal and the descent down to Dunmail.


At Dunmail, Sheila was waiting for us with welcoming coffee and tea along with my leg 3 pacer Pete, my long time walking, climbing, running friend who did the JNLC in 17 hours aged 64.  Mike Langrish, acting for Ian Charters was also there to ‘meet and greet’ that day’s JNLC contenders.


Tony and Pauline were continuing to the head of Stake and then heading down to be collected from the ODG.  Steel Fell felt very comfortable, but the stretch to High Raise seemed interminable and was my only low point of the day, but a short rest there helped. And at the head of Stake, I said goodbye to Tony and Pauline, and hello to Selwyn Wright and Richard Lecky Thomson who were joining Pete and me for the rest of the leg to Sty Head. The climb up to Bowfell gave a problem when Pete unexpectedly announced he wasn’t feeling well. He went back down, met us at Esk Hause but then elected to miss Great End and went directly to Sty Head.  It was a shame, but he left me in good hands and great company. (Subsequently he felt that he had had too much sun).


At Sty Head I was delighted to see my supporters Julie (my son Andrew’s partner) and Dave and Helen Neild, and also Dick who had supported Roger.  Selwyn and Lecky returned to the ODG and Pete headed down to Wasdale with Julie. Andrew joined me here and we were to meet Sheila at Black Sail to make the last leg a family affair. My daughter Helen isn’t a fell walker, but she had done sterling work helping with transport, and was to be at Greendale for the finish.


The ascent of Gable was easy, but leaving the summit, I was too anxious to ensure we kept far enough right to avoid the screes. We became embroiled with the end rocks of Gable Crag and were forced to indulge in some exposed clambering to get back on route.  Sheila was at Black Sail with the news that Roger had passed some time ago ‘going like a train’. We had lots of time in hand and good visibility, although due to our lost time on Gable, against a schedule of just under 20 hours, we were now looking at a finish of just over 20 hours.  Sheila pushed us on, but in truth I didn’t mind.  I had wanted the day to be good, and to be memorable, not just for me but for all my supporters and I felt that had been achieved.  I had hired a tracker, which added an extra dimension to the day for my sponsors, many of whom were fascinated to follow my progress online. 


There was another good moment when we unexpectedly found Dave Neild waiting near the top of Middle Fell.  He kept us company on the final descent and then all that remained was to thank everyone waiting at Greendale and to shake hands with and chat to the great man himself.  A fitting end to a wonderful day!