I had heard a lot of good reports about Lakeland Trails Ullswater race but it is one I had never done so this year I decided to enter and was looking forward to.....
I am about to leave Sweden Park at 10.45 when a text comes through from Natalie saying that all the Ullswater steamer ferries have been cancelled and that it will be a mass start at 12.00 for all race categories. It is raining very heavily and the rain is cold despite a warm air temperature, I am already considering whether to go to do this race or not. I decide to drive to Glenridding in the hope of better conditions plus the fact I have already paid for the race and so would like to receive the t-shirt.
Upon arrival at Glenridding I find the carpark that I had used yesterday completely full and drive around looking for somewhere to park before pulling up on the edge of the road near to the race field entrance. I get ready to run and put on my trail shoes when a race marshall informs me that I cannot park here as I am on double yellow lines and that the police are carrying out checks. The yellow lines are completely obliterated with fallen wet leaves and cannot be seen. I drive further up into the village to find another carpark with a space. I find this carpark technology controlled and have to enquire of someone to show me what to do. It is necessary to enter the car registration into this machine on parking and pay when leaving, all too much for someone in a fluster with twenty minutes to go before the race starts and still to register! The carpark has its own toilets so decide to visit on the way out and am greeted by Lucy, not recognisable dressed head to toe in black waterproof clothing drawn up around her face standing under the shelter of an overhang outside the ladies. I notice that the mens want 20p for entry, there is no way that I am paying this and find a hotel to use across the street before going to register to collect my race number and chip timer in a large white marquee. The marquee is packed tight with runners all avoiding the conditions outside.
At 11.50 we are called to line up for the race, I am still undecided whether to take part or not for the rain is still lashing down. I stand under shelter on the step of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue truck shivering and cold as all the other runners line up in front of me to receive their final instructions. It will now only be a 9 km race as opposed to the intended 14 km.
I decide that I can manage 9km but will not put in any effort on this occasion and just run to complete the course and get the t-shirt. It takes a while to get to the chipmat as everybody is marshalled to cross over it individually. At last the race has began as I run over the lumpy turf to a gateway leading onto the road and the first section on tarmac at the head of the lake before entering a path through a wooded area parallel to the road only to re-emerge back onto it.
It is Thursday when I get home to look up the Ullswater race results and just as I had imagined all the time there is no result shown for ‘Dave’ for he was just a spirit encouraging me along and telling me at the finish that if I had put in effort from the start my time would have been 55.11 !!