The Scars of Scafell

The first Three Peaks Yacht Race puncture!

The new route to Scafell Pike, which involved bikes for the first time and was a significant change for the race after 23 years, has proved both successful and very tough. Times so far have ranged from 7 to 15 hours, and there have been many runners out on the hill at night, though that might be preferable to the heat of the day.

Although the start of the ride out of Whitehaven is very urban the route along the side of Ennerdale and up to the head of the valley around Black Sail Youth Hostel passes through Lakeland scenery at its best. The riders take country roads through Ennerdale Bridge and then forest trails along the lakeside to reach Gillerthwaite Youth Hostel, where the bikes are dropped off. Then they run along the trail to reach the remote Black Sail hostel and climb over Black Sail Pass, before dropping into Wasdale Head. Then comes the climb up Scafell Pike.

The scenery in Ennerdale is quite unspoilt, with almost no buildings or developments at all. However, the extra distance, and especially the extra climbing to cross Black Sail Pass, have proved hard. As he got back to the boat after being out for more than 13 hours and suffering from severe cramp one of the runners from Thunderchild commented: ìIíve never run more than 10 miles before, and had no time to do the training. Iíve never even been up a mountain!î He does come from Essex.

The youngest runners in the race, from Leopard Clipper, had no such problems. Damon Hoad and Kim Collinson set an amazing time of 7 hours 13 minutes taking the lead in the King of the Mountains competition. (Which they will keep unless the runners from Bennachie, one of the last boats in, put in a very competitive time.) This puts them 30 minutes up on the runners from Charter Continuum and 28 minutes ahead of the team from Red Dragon 2000. They are going to be hard to beat.

Not so lucky were the 2 South African runners on Sunsail IRPS. Angus Ryan survived a headlong bike crash, but then Duncan Cordell hurt his knee crossing Black Sail Pass, an injury which suddenly worsened on top of Scafell Pike. It took a painful 3 hours just to get back to Wasdale Head where their support crew picked them up. At least the crew are all physiotherapists, so they could look at his injury quickly. But the team are out of the race.

The longest time on the mountain so far has been the 15 hours 38 minutes taken by Neale Hairs and Matthew Stoneman. from Chic Nic. Coming off the summit they got lost in the dark and spent several hours trying to find the right trail, before finally climbing back up again when daylight came. After due consideration Neil commented; "Going up, then down, just to go up again, it's a daft idea isn't it!"