That didn't help much when it came to climbing Dale Head though. It was a bit of a tough slog and I think I was ONLY JUST on 24hr pace for that summit. I remember seeing my dog Scamp way ahead up the hill bounding around Andy Slats heels and thinking "bloody hell I'm struggling here compared to Slats". Turns out (and I only discovered this 7 weeks later), that Slats hadn't stopped at all in Honister so I was never going to be up there alongside him.
My good pal Plucky was running with me. Plucky doesn't like fell running very much, and that's a severe understatement if ever there was one. But with half an hour of walking followed by fairly simple ground to cover over the three tops then plenty of tracks, paths and roads to end with, this was an ideal section for him to join me on. He never left my side, not once. Exactly what you need in a BG support runner.
I was really struggling to run downhill by this point. My legs weren't tired, or sore, or anything like that. I was just really really slow at anything with any decent gradient. This wasn't too bad inbetween the 3 tops but once we had done Robinson and had a longish descent it was a problem. I know for sure that I was losing a lot of time - I was scarcely moving any faster than walking pace. Handily, as the incline lessened, so did this problem and I sped up until by the time we reached the track out of the valley I was once again 'running properly' (though I'm sure it wont have been very fast).
I hadn't eaten much, if anything, since Honister. I'd been drinking plenty, and I was fine, but when Nick Ray asked if I wanted anything to eat I thought a minute then asked for Haribos.
They tasted BRILLIANT. The first sweet thing I'd eaten for the whole round and they went down a treat as we tackled that monstrous climb from the bridge over the river up toward the few houses.
And then we were into the fields (which avoid dropping down into Stair and therefore having to climb up to Swinside Inn) and soon at the gate to the tarmac which marks the very end of the fell running. Just along from here I was delighted to be joined by a load of extra people who had come along to 'see me home'. Carl Bell and Jen, my mate Popsy and Christine, Mark (from leg 1) and Cazzy and 'Phil the van' too making a tentative return to running after injury.
Once we had merely a couple of miles to go I was beginning to finally feel proper tired and would walk instead of run on the merest of gently slopes. Phil was always in my ear during these spells, urging me to press on again, to run not walk.
'Get every minute you can' he said
'just keep pushing on',
'this discomfort is temporary but whatever time you do will be your time forever, so get the very fastest time you can manage'
Great encouragement. Just what I needed too. Many people may have agreed with what I was saying, that I was easily going to beat 20 hours even if I walked the last 2 miles.
'dont make do with 19.59' Phil said, again and again urging me on.
I'm so pleased he was there, saying those things. 19.43 is a great time. I know that now. If I had settled for a leisurely walk home and 19.59 then the sprint finish may have been essential.
Mark had held Scamps lead since we came out of the marina onto the road section through Portinscale, and once running alongside the road and shops near the town centre Phil asked if I wanted to take him. I didn't realise what he meant at first but then I figured out that running in with Scamp by MY side would be a great way to finish. As it turns out this was another superb idea by Phil as the photo shows
|(Dave H's best ever photo)|
Job done - ta folks