The weather was sun and blue skies with just a stray cloud or two passing overhead as The Old Man of Coniston looked down in all his glory basking in the sunshine.
The race headquarters is at The John Ruskin Secondary School and there is ample of parking on the School playing field for a token fee of £2. It still seems chilly as I arrive at 10.00, though the car shows eight degrees on the thermometer and park up in the third row of cars near the top of the playing field. I have a wander around, Pete Bland has a stall here and I buy some expensive Innovate running gloves at £15, but they will do the job today. Inside the School Hall cakes and hot drinks are available to buy and I make a mental note for afterwards.
I get kitted up in my Bridgnorth Running Club vest and affix my number with built in timing chip; By 11.00 everyone is assembled on the road outside the school and the starter gives his talk and instructions before a hooter sends the strong field of 1126 runners, of which about eighty per cent are club runners, off and over the timing mat to make their way up the rising road to turn left at the cross roads by the BP garage. It is a long slog of a climb out of Coniston on the A593 main road and the entrance to Coniston Hall is passed on the ascent before levelling off nearer towards Torver. Along this section of about three miles the Police have stopped all traffic to make the road free for runners. At Torver , the race turns left onto the A5084, a fairly quiet road and another climb is required up to a garage at the top of the hill before a good descent to join the edge of the lake and some flat. A couple of cattle grids have to be negotiated around and the first one has a gate next to it lakeside and a marshall steers the runners through while the other has had matting put over for the runners safety, again a marshall is in attendance. At Water Yeat, 6 miles, there is a drinks station and I rehydrate, there had been an earlier one which had been ignored.
Here at Water Yeat, the race leaves the main road and travels down a narrow lane crossing Bouthrey Bridge at the southern head of the lake. At the same time an open top car turns into the lane from the other direction of the race and spurts out diesel fumes at me as it is unable to make progress with all the runners but most annoyingly the car turns left at the end of the lane to follow the race route on the east side of the lake and I have to breathe in even more fumes!
The road on the east side is far more undulating and climbs quite high above the lake. After seven miles I feel I am getting in my stride and manage to overtake several other competitors. A lot of the road is shaded by deciduous trees and the water on the lake looks calm and blue. There is a long steady climb at about ten to eleven miles and the race route goes past Brantwood, the home of painter John Ruskin with its majestic gardens and lake views. At the top of the climb the road levels out for a short while before steeply descending down to the northern head of the lake. Along here there are many spectators so I cannot ease up now! Soon this road joins into the Coniston to Hawkshead road for the final part before heading through Coniston Village, again lots of spectators line the street as the race makes its way back to the school to complete in chip time 1.44.24 in a position of 191 out of 1119 with 7 DNF. In all the race had included 619 feet of ascent according to my garmin . The winner, from Black Coombe Runners was 1.20.34.
No goody bag but a slate place mat simply decorated Coniston 14 2015 and depicting a couple of running figures within the large number 14 in gold colour. The School provides showering facilities which I use and then have a couple of cups of tea and a cake, Hot meals were also being served from the school kitchen but I did not want one at this time.
An excellent race, recommended. Entry fee £23 for affiliated runners. Google....Coniston 14 for details, it fills up early.
As The Old Man of Coniston had looked so inviting, I climbed it the next day, again really sunny, on the tourist path. A very busy route and mostly slabbed or stoned for all the way until about fifty metres from the summit where it steepens out for the final leg. An easy walk.