By Richard Slack
The old newspaper headlines about BBQ summers and “phew what a scorcher” perfectly summed up the heat at Coniston this year. The start time for the half marathon was 11am – those with marathon desires set off at 9am. By the time I was ready to start, Coniston Lake already looked inviting – but no – run we must and off we all set.
The first few kms are pretty level running taking you through Coniston village and then out towards Yewdale along gravel paths and through a few shaded areas of woodland. Then onto a minor country road headed uphill towards the disused quarries at Hodge Close. And a treat, the first water station (about 6km). This year the run was all about finishing in some kind of orderly state, so a simple water routine was a delightful uphill walk with the plastic water cup – no bottles for ankle breaking challenges – and lots of waste bags for the empties!
Onward now and the rough bridleway continues uphill for a couple of kms to High Oxen Fell where is joins the Cumbria Way path. After another few ups and downs the route is then greeted by the glorious site of Tarn Hows – just beyond halfway. A delightful run round the path that circumvents the Tarn before, on the second lap, heading out into the first, and only, big downhill section of the route. All the height laboured for in the first half of the race is lost on a mad dash descent that ends on the Coniston to Hawkshead road. Again a gravel path away from the road provides us with our route.
At this point, my normal mantra – only a parkrun left to do! Well, that’s hardest 5 km I’ll ever do – Coniston was like a heat bowl. I then started to pass time thinking about damn hot race reports – thanks to Sumanth for the inspiration of running in heat – at least Coniston had plenty of twists and turns, a run by the Lake rather than dead straight with a hotel the only shift in direction. So the last few kms eventually passed with the Lake now fully in my sight at the finish. Through the finish funnel, water, then only one thing for it – straight into the Lake – sheer bliss for a heavenly 15 minutes! So pleased to have finished only then did I check my watch (the only other time was after the first km to check my pace) and surprised to record a tad under 2 hours 6 mins.
Great run in the sun.