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Cumbria Way Ultra 2018

09/10/2018

The Cumbria Way Ultra is a 73 miles race from Ulverston to Carlisle which can be entered as an individual race or as a relay event for teams of 2 or 5.

This year there was also the option of a short!! 30 miles option from Keswick to Carlisle.

As the longer race has a 6am start the Dumfries Running Club relay team of Bob Quin, Vicky Hart, Laura Broatch, Andy Dickson and David Burns set off on the Friday night for registration in Ulverston, the birthplace of Stan Laurel.

It was chucking it down at registration in the centre of town and by the time the team had driven to their hotel about 10 minutes away the team decided to stay dry and not go for a pub meal in town. 

The meal in the hotel was slow in coming, the beer ran out, but the cider drinkers seemed happy.

Next morning everyone was up bright and early for the 5:30 race briefing and to see Bob off on the first leg. It’s always fascinating to see the back packs and kit that people have on ultra runs. This race introduced a whole new level of kit to be carried with whistle, torch, spare batteries, foil blanket, gloves, hat, waterproof jacket, water proof trousers, spare long sleeve top, spare long bottoms, food, drink, map of route, mobile phone and partridge in pear tree meaning that nobody was running with just a wee bum bag.

Conditions were perfect. It was dry and cool as the runners set off on the first leg to Coniston.

Bob had done this leg the previous time that DRC had entered a team two years ago, so he was confident of navigating it easily enough coupled with the fact that in the early stages of the race most runners are pretty close together. The other team members piled into the car and set off for Coniston for the first changeover. Car parked at changeover point, breakfast called.

The runners started coming in and with live tracking of each runner it was simple to predict and be ready for runners coming. They turned off the road, crossed a small wooden bridge and registered their time at the checkpoint at the football pavilion. Except Bob didn’t quite manage that. He ran nearly 17 miles over Lakeland trails, forests and paths with no incident, however when faced with a small wooden bridge 10 yards from the finish of his leg, he tripped and injured his hand/wrist. It looked a sore one but in true team spirit he bounced straight back up finished his leg and handed over his timing chip and map to Andy.

Andy set off for the next changeover point at Sticklebarn. Andy had been forced to give up running at the beginning of the year on medical advice and seriously thought he might never be able to run again. Fortunately for him, a couple of stents have given him a new running lease of life. This leg over hilly terrain and probably going to take him over 2 hours to complete was going to be a big test of how far he had come.

The rest of the relay team set off for the next changeover which was in Great Langdale. It was still dry but getting a bit warmer and every so often you would spot a runner in the distance.

The team didn’t have to wait long before Andy arrived (with no mishaps) in an excellent time and he handed over to Vicky for the next leg to Keswick.

Vicky has had her injury problems recently and her leg started with a very steep climb. As the rest of the team made their way to Keswick the hilltops looked as if they were getting a right good soaking and subsequent pictures of Vicky and others on this section showed that she definitely got the worst weather conditions of the day.

By the time the team arrived in Keswick it was again dry and quite warm. As this was quite a long leg the rest of the team headed for something to eat and to meet up with some more supporters who had come to Keswick. 

Bob had had his arm strapped up by a medic in Coniston and a combination of painkillers and a couple of pints kept the worst of the pain at bay.

The changeover points were excellent in their provision of food for the runners, this one in Keswick was particularly good because Susan Graham was helping out there. She was also celebrating a birthday.

It was at this point in the race that the runners taking part in the solo race were starting to feel the effects of the miles. Whereas at the first two checkpoints runners were just refuelling then heading off, this time there were a few having a sit (or lie) down. Some dropped out.

Live tracking allowed Laura to be ready and waiting for Vicky and with the handover completed she headed off on what from a climbing point of view was the hardest section of the run. Having completed the Highland Fling, Coniston Marathon, Lakeland 55 and the Devil of the Highlands this year already, distance wouldn’t be an issue, however every run is tough in its own way.

The team headed off for Caldbeck and again with this being quite a long leg as soon as they got there started refuelling in the nearest pub. Ultra running is basically an eating contest interspersed with sections of running.

Another excellent time on this leg meant that the handover to David was completed and the team were well up on the previous DRC time. It also meant David would have more time in daylight.

This leg consists of two sections, to Dalston and then onto Carlisle. The first section is flat but through countryside the second section is on a cycle path with few interesting features. Poor signage meant that the compulsory checkpoint at Dalston was missed by David, so adding an extra half mile to the course.

With the rest of the relay team waiting at the finish in the courtyard of Carlisle Castle, David eventually crossed the finish line 11 seconds under the time of the previous DRC team at 22:00. The team were presented with their bottle of beer and usefully their bottle opener medal.

After the race the team headed for the canteen where they did what ultra runners do best and eat some more food.

The team were informed that they were 1st in the relay event however due to the fact that some solo runners would take another 10 hours to complete the race, the prize giving would not be taking place until the following morning.

On the Sunday morning Vicky, Laura and Andy travelled back to Carlisle to be presented with the prizes for 1st team. Very nice slate coasters and buffs all round.

Ricky Martin ran in the 30 mile race. Lisa Stansfield finished behind the team and Katy Perry was a DNF.

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