To waste time; be slow or to move slowly and idly in a particular direction
So based on that definition it could be said that the title Derwent Dawdle is a little misleading…. I know that my lovely friends Cathy and Rach would certainly say just that.
In 2018, the 3 of us set off from Braithwaite in the walkers category with sunshine, big smiles and plans to meander idly in an ‘around the lake’ kind of direction. However, 3 miles in and Cathy’s first experience of Catbells wasn’t going well. After she politely advised me to ‘just fucking fuck off’ (she used hand signals as well as verbal commands as shown in the picture below!), I ditched the pair of them and cracked on. Testament to Cathy and Rach though, they did push on to the first check point, but then chinned it off and went to the pub so it wasn’t all bad!
This year I opted to enter again but this time in the runner’s category, and this time with the best running buddy in the world - Lee. I was crapping it about being in the ‘runners’ category, convinced I’d come last and the check points would be closed by the time I dawdled my sorry ass round the route. Lee as always, with his infinite patience and ability to turn a blind eye to the pre-race toilet smells which always come with my nerves, persuaded me we’d be fine, and as always, he was right.
The weather was varied at best. Too hot really for a waterproof but with heavy showers a few times an hour, on and off and on again was the only strategy. We started at 0930 and the day was set to improve but actually got worse, Fortunately, the bulk of the heavy rain came after we’d finished so that was all good.
Now the route is great. A perfect circumnavigation of Derwent water taking in the not too high peaks of Catbells, Dock Tarn (up those bloody steps) and Walla Crag. Now, I know people think Catbells is a lovely little mountain but it’s actually a fucking pain in the arse. Nice views and all that but fuck me, it’s not the easiest to make a quick ascent and descent of (for me at least) and that’s assuming it’s not swarming with assholes in jeans trying to negotiate a pushchair up the vaguely scrambly bit and moaning they haven’t bought any cans of lager with them.
However, the next leg down to Rosthwaite is really lovely - undulating but not bonkers so runnable. This was where I started to notice the number of other runners who didn’t have a clue of the route. Now we nav’d using my previous experience and the map from the website. We followed the pink route marked on the map and had minimal problems – I find written route descriptions difficult when I have sweat in my eyes so didn’t use that…. However, as per the kit list, everyone should have had a map and a compass at the very least, and ideally a rough idea of where to go. Repeatedly we saw people stopping, then other people stopping, then all standing round like spare pricks at a wedding, no one getting a map out, no one checking the description, just standing looking gormless… we and other people would pass, offer some direction and guidance on the right path to take (eg.it’s this way), only to be looked at like we had 2 fucking heads. Do you know what, fuck you then. Stand there, not knowing where you’re going or follow us or don’t. Your call but have enough of a sense of personal responsibility to be able to use a map, or at least get it out your bag. Kit lists in the Lakes aren’t for shits and giggles and the ability to navigate is important. We went wrong before Dock Tarn – I turned left too early and we needed to remediate my mistake. I’m not saying I’m perfect (I’ve got Lee and I navigationally embarrassed numerous times – even with a map) but it does grip my shit when people can’t or won’t take responsibility for their navigation on a race which is marketed as self-navigation.
Slight rant aside, kit wise, I was in a brand spanking pair of Hoka Torrent’s (insert your judgement about not wearing new trainers on race day but fuck it, they were Hokas and I’ve never had any problems so what better was to break them in?!) and whilst Lee (also in new Hoka Torrent’s aka the ‘kit twin wankers’) was leaping like a mountain goat, I found them a little slipier than my old speed goats. No falls mind you and I made better progress than usual on the descents – I’m a chicken and unable to find that switch to turn off my brain from thinking about how much it’s going to hurt when I fall. Anyway – Lee is doing an equipment blog separately so check that out for trainer chat.
After Dock Tarn you’ve got a rocky and wet/boggy descent but CP2 pops up before you know it and then you’re on the home straight…Walla Crag is a lovely steady incline with stunning views and then it’s down and flat all the way back to Braithwaite. The biggest challenge for me was not getting waylaid with fish and chips on the way through Keswick! I’ll be honest, I did struggle towards the end. I was tired and as with most races, those last 3 or so miles are the longest in the world. Lee, as always, kept me moving and we managed to knock 50 mins off my 2018 time and I came (a respectable for me) 18thfemale out of 94. I am genuinely chuffed to bits with that and happy with the whole day as an entirety.
Now – for the key point. The race was ace. Ascend Events do a bloody good job. Friendly, simple, unfaffy (that’s a word right?), great food choices at check points and brilliant after race food and care, all for a bargain price. My only concern is just how popular their events will become as they are exceptional value for money and able to deliver all those wonderful things that make you smile before, during and after a well-run event.