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The Beginning

Author : Carrick Armer

PhotoCredit : Pyro

Date Posted : 2018/05/12

It's May in the north of England. Weather-wise, you never know what you're going to get: It could be rain, it could be sun, it could be snow. Overnight, as the Northern Traverse and Lakes Traverse competitors gathered in St Bees (mainly in the Seacote Hotel), it was rain. This morning, as they gathered again at the start line, it was sun. And so it's remained so far, we must be in luck.

Both the 60 mile Lakes Traverse and the 190 mile Northern Traverse started in the sun, with a light breeze and intermittent fluffy clouds blowing over every now and again. When the cloud blew in the temperature dropped a touch, but in the windless reaches of Ennerdale, the mercury rose enough to make things slightly uncomfortable. A number of competitors continued the coast-to-coast tradition of picking a small pebble from the beach at St Bees to carry to Robin Hood's Bay with them. One racer was trying to select a slightly larger rock for one of his compatriots to carry, whether they knew about it or not. Some dipped toes in the sea to carry on that tradition as well. With a decent swell rolling in, most avoided that temptation for the sake of at least starting with dry shoes.

The weather hasn't just been a topic of conversation to those of us following the race, it's a topic for the racers as well. The heat is obviously getting to some people; Tony Trundley arrived at Honister slate mine gagging for a can of Coke, having convinced himself he could get one at Black Sail Youth Hostel and being disappointed when they only had tea and coffee. Others also availed themselves of the facilities at Honister, diving in to the cafe for coffees and cakes, despite the fact that the Rosthwaite feed station was only a handful of kilometres ahead, predominantly downhill.

While the current weather is glorious, the previous few weeks have been a lot wetter, and the high ground hasn't drained completely, and the residual moisture is causing issues as well - at Feed Station 1 at Rosthwaite, Eddie Winthorpe pulled his socks to deal with the beginnings of trench foot, and a number of other runners were taking the chance to dry socks out, both at Black Sail and at Rosthwaite. With three of the highest sections of the route to come this evening and overnight, over Greenup Edge to Grasmere, over the Helvellyn massif to Patterdale, and then over High Street to Haweswater, a little care now could save some hobbling later, but all experienced ultra runners will know that.

In the Northern Traverse race, Eoin Keith established a lead early on, trotting easily over the rough trail alongside Ennerdale Water and up onto Fleetwith Pike. In the Seacote the night before the race, he was showing off his lumpy collarbone, the result of a fall and a fracture at the Barkley Marathons. So far, Matt Neale and Paul Nelson are trailing him, though not be an insurmountable distance. Karen Nash is leading the ladies, with Jen Scotney pushing hard in her wake, and Angela White not too far behind, though at the Rosthwaite feed station Angela was nursing a sore LCL and contemplating how hard to push over the next stage to Grasmere and then Patterdale.

The leaders in the Lakes Traverse had soon pulled back the half hour head start the 190 mile runners had had. A lead group had made their way past the majority of the Northern Traverse runners by the head of Ennerdale Water, and Adam Potter had made his way right up to the front, chasing Eoin Keith's heels up onto Grisedale Hause. Matt Wilson and Mark Clarkson are chasing hard, with Cass Chisholm leading the Ladies over Nicola Richards and Lucie Barnes.

The thermometer is slowly dropping as we head into the evening, though a little cloud cover coming over means it may not be so chilly as it could be. Like the weather, and as always with the first night of racing (or the only night, in the case of the Lakes Traverse), just about anything could happen overnight.

(Live tracking is at )

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About The Author

Known as 'Pyro'. An adventure racer & skilled paddler who says he's a 'picture taker and word herder'. He's reported for SleepMonsters for many years, including World Championships, the Alaska Expedition Race, and Raid Gaspesie in Canada. He'll get where he needs to be to get the story and some great photos and then he'll have a beer.

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