The idea for this year of suffering started in January after my Dad had the all-clear from metastatic testicular cancer. On Friday he had his first repeat scan to check things are still ok. We'll get the results in another week or two; hopefully good news. It's certainly a stark contrast to last year; he finished his last chemo on Christmas Eve.
After news of bad flooding in the Lake District, I'd been waiting nervously to hear from race organisers. Next weekend I'm due to run my final challenge; a 38 mile ultra-marathon in the Lake District (the tour de helvellyn). The roads in Ullswater and Thirlmere have been badly damaged, so I had been expecting (and hoping, if I'm honest!) to find out the race had been cancelled. On Friday the organisers sent an email out confirming their intentions to run the race still. GULP!
Well, I'm not one to do things in halves anyway. It would be sensible when thinking about a first ultra to perhaps run something a bit easy; maybe a nice undulating coastal route on big trails, in nice weather, with a decent amount of daylight. You certainly don't think of 38 miles of hills in the Lake District, on the shortest Saturday of the year! I had wanted to do something on the winter solstice, to contrast to my Froggatt Everesting in the summer; I had debated a winter Everesting, but decided against it due to logistics and support the weekend before Christmas. Instead I'll be dragging myself around the Lakes.
The course runs from Askham to Patterdale; Glenridding to Thirlmere (via Stick's Pass); along Thirlmere and back up to Grisedale Tarn; back down to Patterdale; back over to Askham. I managed to recce the middle loop around Helvellyn, but haven't managed to recce the out-&-back from Askham to Patterdale (I was due to do this when the floods were bad). I'll be starting in the dark, and almost certainly finishing in the dark as well (unless I am miraculously quicker than hoped!).
Regardless of how the race goes, it'll be great to have another day spent surrounded by beautiful mountains. My only aim is to finish; that in itself will be a big accomplishment. Then I'm looking forward to a few weeks of decent rest! It's been a long time waiting for the end of the season!