Thursday, 3 April 2014

Race Report: Buttermere 10

Photo: High Terrain Events
The Salomon Buttermere 10 has got to be the most enjoyable race I've done in a long time. Surrounded by impressive peaks you almost feel like you're in the Alps or the Pyrenees. The course is testing and technical which is great fun, especially when combined with the fast pace of a 10 mile route.

This time round I'd made a effort to do things properly, watched what I ate and drank, did my research on the course and got good sleep before race day - not forgetting training! Not everything went to plan, I took a couple of falls over the two weeks leading up to the race which left me bloody-knee'd and bruised but otherwise no massive issues. It was about time I learnt from the lessons of races past, in stead of pretending to...

Kit wise I'd invested in a pair of Salomon Slab Sense Ultra Softground, a minimalist shoe with a fairly aggressive trail grip, similar to that of the SpeedCross. Two Salomon soft-flasks (237ml) and an Overstims gel to keep me going and that was pretty much it!… apart from compression… Light and fast was the plan, cary nothing that I wouldn't use, which sounds over the top on a short course, but it's as much about the "feeling" of freeness and lightness as is it about the actual grams.

Morning of race day I got out the tent to find the sky clearing (unusual for the wettest place in Britain) and made Ellie and I some porridge with the JetBoil. Looking at the time I wandered over to register only to find Joe and Stu from Nav4 who were doing medical cover for the race. I was an hour early, not on purpose but because I'd messed up when the clocks went forward… somehow… even now I have no idea what was going on! I caught up with Joe and Stu for a bit before enjoying a quick coffee - then time for warm up. I slowly trotted along past the start/finish area, meeting RD Ian on the way and covered the first loop of the race along the shore of Buttermere. On my way back to finish getting ready I saw James from Salomon for a quick geek off on kit.

Photo: SportSunday
There was a fair crowd at the start line, around 200 runners all eager to get out on the trails. I turned on Strava and my music ready for Ian to call the start… three… two… one… GO! Not one to hang around I put a bit of pace down and got in front over the bridge and through the first gate. The trail heads south east and is easy running, I knew I had to pace my self and it wasn't long before the first couple of runners slipped past. Every time I had an inner battle not to take up the chase and to hold my own, knowing what burning out too early would do. After a short distance a hairpin bend sends you back North on a higher path which quickly becomes loose and rocky, requiring concentration for foot placement.

Spectators lined the first ford, where there was an adjacent bridge but no-one in their right mind would cross it as too much time would be lost. The combination of wet shoes, loose wet rocks and mud meant core stability, foot placement and focus really paid off in terms of speed. My knowledge from recce'ing the course meant I already had a path in mind between the logs, rocks and bumps that lay in front.

As we reached the shoreline of Crummock Water the tree line opened up to grassy fields and the trail changed considerably. There were short stretches of crazy-paved path which were not quite flat and very slippery with longish sections of wet peaty ground in-between which, if you weren't careful you could easily loose a leg in! Reaching the northern end of the lake the tree cover returned, along with more stable ground. Now it became more of a root/stone dodging run with small bumps which weaved through the trees.

Buttermere 10 Route Map - Click to enlarge
Reaching a road crossing you then find the water stop where I saw Joe from Nav4 and dumped two cups of beautifully cold water over my head - this is more to refresh than cool down but it obviously does that too! From the water stop an easy trail inclines slowly to a footbridge from where you switchback towards the road where a steeper, but shorter ascent awaits.

From then in it was the home stretch, letting things loose on the down-hill and heading over the small shingle beach and fields to the finish line. This is the give it every last drop moment, the final km where you just have to push and hold on.

It was really pleasing to finally have things all settle into place and appreciate a good result from it - a big lesson into the importance of preparation in all areas, not just the easy ones! I would highly recommend the Buttermere 10 to runners of all capabilities because of the fun nature of the course and you know with a High Terrain Event it will be well organised by friendly staff.

Thanks to everyone that made the event what it is and I look forward to taking part next year.

Please take a moment to look at ABF The Soldiers' Charity to find out what they do to help our servicemen & women and their families. To make a donation by text: send "ARMY2" to 70004.
Thank you!

You can find all the kit I used and more at Castleberg Outdoors!

The Northern Shores of Crummock Water

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