Teenager with Altitude

Posted by Sam Harrison on April 28, 2014 at 10:18.

 Fell running

anniversary waltz coledale fell race fell running keswick newlands teenager with altitude

A week away wild camping in Scotland probably isn't the best preparation for a 15.5 mile / 7600 ft race, but the day after we returned from Arran I found myself travelling north once more, this time to Stair in the Lake District for a race I've been looking forward to competing in for some time; the Teenager with Altitude. My entry for the Teenager had been secured well before we decided to go to Arran, it just seemed a shame to miss out such a good opportunity to explore Arran and so I convinced myself that the day's "rest" (i.e. hauling our heavy bags back to Lancaster) would be sufficient.

The Teenager is a longer version of the more popular Anniversary Waltz race, which has been run since 1997 to commemorate Wynn and Steve Cliff's wedding which took place at the Newlands Valley church. It first ascends Causey Pike, then performs a somewhat contrived leg out to Outerside before summiting Grasmoor, traversing to Whiteless Pike and steeply plummiting to the Newland's Pass. The route then climbs Robinson via High Snockrigg, before joining the Anniversary Waltz to return via Hindscarth, Dale Head, Maiden Moor and Catbells to Stair. This year, after much lively debate and plenty of controversy regarding the new Fell Runners Association Safety Rules (if you're interested and have a spare day or two, there's plenty of "discussion" on the publically-open Fell Runners forum about the subject, though this post sums up a lot of what's been going on pretty well if you're short of time), the race was run under Scottish Hill Runners rules, a move which a number of English fell races are now considering.

The race is vaguely connected to Bowland Fell Runners and so there were plenty of us milling about at the start, including a few in both races. Bowlanders were manning most checkpoints as well, and it was great to see friendly faces cheering us on all the way around.

Rhys FR setting a cracking pace at the start. Photo thanks to Lorna.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky and although there was a slight chill in the air, it was vest and shorts from the off. Rhys Findlay-Robinson from Dark Peak set a cracking (bordering on ridiculous) pace off up Causey Pike and the rest of us followed in tow. I soon found myself settling down into a comfortable-ish rhythm, with my legs already reminding me of the previous week's activities. There was plenty of water en-course and I made the most of streams on the ascent of Grasmoor to make sure I didn't get dehydrated.
 
On the ascent of Causey Pike. Photograph © athletesinaction.co.uk.

The descent from Whiteless Pike was the first big hit I took and by the end of it my legs were a quivering mess; telling of the lack of proper hilly runs I've done recently. Fortunately a short traverse and re-ascent to the Newland's Pass seemed to sort them out, and I was re-assured chatting to a Dark Peak runner on the ascent of Robinson that he was feeling the same. I enjoyed the ascent of Robinson and felt good overtaking a few of the Anniversary Waltz runners as I came off the summit. Hindscarth and Dale Head didn't hurt too much either, and by pure luck I managed to find a fast line off Dale Head that saw me overtaking another few.
 
Approaching the summit of Robinson. Photograph © athletesinaction.co.uk.

What I had completely underestimated though was the distance back from Dale Head to Stair, and the next few miles was trying and tiring. An energy gel sorted me out for the first half but I was flagging by the ascent of Catbells. The final descent came as a relief and I picked up a good pace to bring me to the finish in 26th place, 3 hours 44 minutes and 30 seconds after I began. Richard, Graham and Chris from Bowland had finished in front, in very impressive times of 3:02:27 (3rd place), 3:14:32 (8th place) and 3:31:13 (17th place). Rhys FR had continued his impressively fast start to win outright in 2:50:36.  The post-race atmosphere was great, and the free stew and beer was very welcome; I can't wait until next year!

Final descent to Stair from Catbells. Photo thanks to Lorna.
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