Monday, 15 June 2009

Three Rings Of Shap (but Two for me). Sat 13/06/2009

Three Rings Of Shap
I motored up to Tebay on Friday afternoon for a leisurely dinner with friends and a good night's sleep in a B&B. The journey one junction up the M6 on Saturday morning only took 15 minutes. On the way I was caught in a rain squall that was spawned from the constant pall of cloud that was hugging the very hills we would climb on the first Ring.

The sun was shining brightly in Shap and a very warm day was promised. The massed start from Shap Memorial Hall was at 8am but we could start any time up to 09:30. I set off at 08:30 with Matt Neale and Phil Musson to avoid a premature arrival at the first manned checkpoint.

We were soon climbing westerly into the cloud and brief bursts of rain that trailed off the leeward side of the peak, but once onto Artlecrag Pike and the self clip, we were into the clear. Haweswater was clearly visible down in the valley on the westward side. The climb up to and down from the peak was off-path across open fell. It was magic - the best part of the whole event. The descent through the miniature valley occupied by Forces Falls formed part of that magic. On the return leg to Shap the reappearance of the sun caused temperatures to rise. The sun and heat remained with us for the rest of the day. The first Ring was 19 miles and took me 3hrs 41mins.

Ring 2 was 24 miles to the east and was much flatter. The baked-hard ground (multiple cattlehoof holes in the mud but baked hard like concrete) were tough on the feet. The scores of stiles we had to climb over, squeeze through and contort ourselves around made sure we did not build up a rhythm. The flat to undulating terrain offered fewer uphill walking breaks and downhill, gravity-assisted runs. The sun beat down and the heat became more intense. Inevitably the pace slowed. I finished the 2nd Ring at 5:55pm in 9hrs 25mins. I ran most of Ring 2 with Matt, Ian and Paul.

I had not lubed beforehand and the perspiration, combined with 9.5 hours of motion, had started some serious chafing. There was no way I could set off on the 20-mile Ring 3 without causing some serious damage. In view of what was coming up in 2 weeks' time I was quite happy and guilt-free to call it a day at 43 miles, so I started the refuelling process while other brave souls (Ian, and somewhat later Alan and Carole) set off on the final 20 miles into the night on Ring 3.

The food provided by the organisers was excellent - an all-night dinner and pudding service with extra cakes and biscuits if you wanted. Lashings of tea goes without saying.

Six hours' sleep in the sleeping room followed by more food (quiche and salad this time) set me up for the journey home. It was a truly memorable weekend. I shall return to try out Ring 3. I heard some good reports about it - a bit more up-and-down, which is what we want.

As usual I took some pictures.


  1. sounds tempting for next year nick. right move not to continue..that could have been a tad painful :(

  2. good luck with the WS Nick!! I will definitely be following your progress on the website. sub 24hr? whatever time you achieve 100 miles is certainly something I aspire to achieve in my future of ultra running. can't wait to hear all about it on your return. disco stu