A year after my biggest trail adventure I find myself back in Lady Grey with Neil, Roger and Kylie. Quite a few things have changed in the past year.
I find myself as part of a group of 35 runners who are wearing red bibs to indicate that we have completed the course before and should know what we are doing, ha!
4h45 after John-Michael Tawse blows the starters horn we arrive at the first water just after Snowden. Roger fills up quickly and continues to move forward- relentless forward motion!
I hurry to catch up and feel like a leach as I have not really been able to contribute much on the navigation front. I hope that later on this will change. I hope that my mountain experience will help.
Roger, Jayde and I have been running in an informal group. Joking and singing. Jayde: Abba, Durran Durran and beach boys. I briefly try to include some Dylan but is lost on the youth.
Jayde is slower at the refreshing stream and is off the pace. We push on and run with real and virtual friends for a while. Dom Wills joins us and his company is great. Avoca, Skiddaw and then down the valley to Balloch.
There is a real festive atmosphere going on under the trees and I don’t want to tear myself away. The Red Bull girls offer us refreshments but I turn them down.
“You good to go?” Comes the reply
And we are off.
Balloch wall awaits. It is hot and steep. We choose a line further right and it works well.
Up in just over an hour. We stumble down the other side.
Dom, Roger and I push on the road. We walk the ups (there are always more when you are tired) and jog the flats and downs. One of us will up the pace to a jog, the others fall into step without a word.
Our running pace is painfully slow at 8km an hour and I push the walks to over 6km/h. I find it more efficient to walk so my motivation drops.
River crossing at Wildfell with shoes off is a relief. I won’t make the same mistake as last year by blowing it on the Bridal Path. I smash a caffeine gel and it does not take long to kick in.
I feel strong and am able to push the pace towards darkness and CP Turn. The fires, warm tea and friendly faces are very welcome. We know we are on the home stretch. I also know that we probably have the trickiest section to go as far as navigation is concerned.
GPS in one hand and map in the other we forge on into the warm night. We do not talk much. We both know. The vague outlines of mountains help. I make some wrong turns but we keep forward momentum going so all is good.
Halstone Peak and Tatum and co catch us.
I sit down briefly to send a text msg to Mel as there won’t be any reception for the entire next day.
I jog to catch up. Less than 5 km from the finish and we all can’t wait for this to end.
Fences, short climbs, cliffs, prickly bushes and a river crossing within site of the banners stretch us.
We finish in a group. Time and place irrelevant.
We are Skyrunners!
I will post a “How to info” for Skyrun in the next couple of days.