I ran round Buttermere several years ago, while the two older children cycled. My memory was of a relatively level path through woods on the lower side of the lake (and of Bella having several paddies even about small hills on her bike while Alex shot ahead), a farmyard at the end, and then a long slog chivvying and trying to keep safe, two young children on bikes back along a narrow road on the northern side of the lake. It didn’t seem to be that far and having just done Cartmel 10km I thought Buttermere trail race wouldn’t be a problem.
I had been entered almost before I knew it and before I realised that it was 10 miles and that you don’t go around Buttermere but in fact along the edge of Buttermere before turning back to go around Crummock Water. But hey, I’d done 10 miles before, and the gruelling but stunning Howgills half marathon last May… could it really be that hard?
There was the usual ‘what shall I wear’ dilemma. It’s almost as bad preparing for a run as it is for a party or a hot date. It was going to prove to be one of those days which start of freezing and end up really warm… so, as usual, too many layers…
Despite an early morning frost it was already sunny when we arrived in Buttermere village to find that with just 20 minutes before registration closed there was hardly anywhere to park – except up the hill towards the Newlands Pass. What would this feel like when we had to walk back up the hill after the run?
Around the registration area and the portaloos was a sea of farmyard mud but fortunately because we were cutting it a bit fine in terms of time there wasn’t too much time to hang around and get cold. After a bit of chatting with fellow runners we set off along the southern edge of Buttermere through the woods and then turned uphill to run back through fields. This was where the mud started… thank goodness (again) for goretex trainers. Having said that, by the end of the race the water had gone up over the tops of my trainers and into them, and being goretex of course there was less potential for it to get out again… but that was a minor discomfort.
As we went round Crummock Water I began to realise how unfit I was (certainly not 10-mile fit anyway). As I had been going through a sentimental phase of feeling sad about my marriage break-up – not for myself but just for losing the entire ‘family’ thing – the children and parents cheering the other, running, parent on or else the families out for a walk in the sun at the side of the lake also added to my feeling of despondency. If someone had said to me ‘don’t worry, you can just walk back if you want’ then I’d have done so.
Fortunately they didn’t and having crossed over the road on the northern side of Crummock Water to head uphill, the welcome sight of a water station with jelly teddies appeared. The run was then undulating and I began to catch up on a couple of women who had overtaken me earlier, finally overtaking them on a downhill section. There was then a nasty almost vertical (OK, that’s a slight exaggeration but it was very steep and not run-able by most) uphill before another downhill (I had to slow up to cross the road as there was a bus coming) and then the final part around the rest of Crummock Water and back to the start/finish line on the plain between the two lakes.
It was a gorgeous run and I was glad I had done it – but next time I’m going to make sure I’m fitter!