I was given a Lakeland Trails entry for the Keswick 14k run for my Birthday and although I have a problem with ramped up entry fees it was a generous pressie and, in any case, it would have been churlish not to appear for the race on such a cracking though breezy day in the Lake District. With the prospect of 2000ft of climbing and descent over 9 miles, I sat chomping my way through a flapjack and supped fresh brown coffee in the car with 20 minutes to go rather than warming up. You won't find that in the coaches manual.
The registration and start was in Fitz Park and standing under the red inflatable banner or whatever you call these things, I thought a top 20 finish might do the job. I thought I saw Bingleys Matt Whitfield just in front looking keen and then with 2 minutes to go, Nick Swinburn (NFR) appeared at the line. He knocked out a 30 minute 10k last weekend in Hawick. I revised my finish position down a little.
The route took us along the railway line then around the side of Latrigg and up a dale and I was in a little group with a nice tailwind pushing us on. There was one stretch at 6 km of boggy, reedy grass but thankfully very little camber on it for me to slip off while running in a knackered old pair of road shoes.
I took in the scenery and stopped once or twice to take a couple of gratuitous blog photos. This, I realise, is dubious and touristy. Its odd behaviour for sure near the front of a race. To be honest I don't think I've lost a whole lot of time getting up to this malarkey.
As I hit the headwind at the top of the hill on the turn at 9km, I stopped and took another snap, letting a Redcar and a Dumfries runner by as I stood in my Cecil Beaton-like pose.
I then tucked in behind Dumfries man for a bit before we started hitting some proper downhill when I finally worked off the flapjack and passing 4 or 5 toward the finish cajoled the creaky carcass to 22nd place in 1:03 and 4th vet. Swinburn meandered in to a record breaking 51.30, 3 minutes ahead of Whitfield. Mike Openshaw (running unattached) was 5th. Pippa Maddams was first lady (17th) in 1.01.56, just over a minute ahead of unattached Jenny Watts, who, if I hadn't been fannying around with the photo shoot, I might have got a bit closer to.
My up-hilling was slow today but carrying that tripod, flashgun, light meter and illuminating umbrellas takes the edge off your speed, believe me. Anyone for a portrait...
Oh, and last thing some guy thought it would be nice to propose as his girlfriend crossed the line. aawwwww!