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Inaugural Ennerdale Trail Race “a resounding success”

This race report comes from organiser, Ian Mulvey:

With mirror images reflected in the lake, forest & woodland in full autumn splendour, and a stunning mountain backdrop, this was the setting for the inaugural Ennerdale Trail Race.

One of the more remote valleys in the western Lake District, the area is a hidden gem for trail running. With a fantastic network of trails stretching throughout the valley, there are no roads and the only access is by bike or foot.

Ennerdale is the third event in the newly created High Terrain Events trail running series and the final event of the 2012 Salomon Trail Tour.

Three distances of 10k, 25k and a 50k ultra were on offer. The 10k course was one full circuit around Ennerdale Water. The 25k and 50k courses followed the same initial route as the 10k along the shoreline before climbing steadily up the valley along the main forest road, all set beneath the dramatic slopes of Pillar Rock.

The 12.5k turnaround point was located at the iconic Black Sail youth hostel set amidst an impressive skyline of lakeland fells. Crossing the river Liza the route then returned down the other side of the valley, to rejoin the 10k course finishing with a technical section along the southern shoreline of Ennerdale Water over rocks, tree roots and streams. A short scramble across the rock promontory of Anglers Crag was a final test for runners before the finish. For the 50k runners it was a chance to experience the whole route again. What more could you ask for on a day like this!

A very strong field lined up for the 50k including the likes of established ultra runners Steve Angus (DH Runners) and Vicci Mousley (Team 9Bar). With the initial few miles out along the lakeshore trails runners were treated to spectacular views across Ennerdale Water and down into the valley. A small lead group formed consisting of Steve, Joe Peate, Paul Wathan (Eryri Harriers) and veteran ultra triathlete David Clamp (Knutsford Tri).

Determined not to let Steve dominate, Joe moved into an early lead and was three minutes clear by Black Sail. Clearly not fazed by the ‘rock garden’ Joe reached the 25k point in 1:53:38. Barely pausing for breath at the feed station he set off on the second circuit with a 7 minute lead as next through was Paul in 2:00 followed closely by Steve and Dave in 2:01.

A similar scene was unfolding in the women’s race with Vicci establishing what looked like a comfortable lead over second placed runner Angela Armstrong (Keswick AC). Despite having an aversion to cows and having to negotiate a small herd of Galloway’s which were blocking the trail, Vicci reached 25k in 2:10 followed by Angela in 2:18.

On the second climb to Black Sail, Paul was forced to a grinding halt due to a recurrence of a recent knee injury. At only 24 he will be one to watch in the world of ultra running. This left Steve to do the chasing but making little inroads into Joe’s lead as he was still four minutes adrift at Black Sail. A different picture was unfolding in the women’s race as Angela was having a storming second lap and now had Vicci in her sights at Black Sail. Although the cows had ‘mooved’ on to pastures new, Vicci’s favourite section of the whole route loomed ahead, the ‘Evil Rock Section’, deciding to give it a name after enjoying it so much the first time through. Steve must have turned on the afterburners as he reached this section just 45 seconds behind Joe. Moving into the lead with only two miles remaining Steve crossed the line in 4:17:48 followed just two minutes later by Joe in 4:19:53. Next was Stephen Seddon in 4:25:26.

After holding the lead from the start Vicci was determined not to lose the race in the final stages and ‘survived’ the rocks to win in 4:51:41, followed less than two minutes later by Angela in 4:53:30. Third place and first FV40 was Michelle Hetherington (Helensburgh AAC) in 5:23:49.

Setting off fifteen minutes after the 50k were the 25k runners, and pre race favourite Carl Bell (Howgill Harriers) didn’t disappoint as he stormed into an early lead. Carl was setting a phenomenal pace as he reached the feed station at Black Sail passing the majority of 50k runners. Despite slipping and landing heavily whilst crossing the footbridge over the Liza Beck, Carl maintained the pace to win in an incredible time of 1:35:21.

Demonstrating a strong female contingent from Keswick AC, the women’s 25k race was won by Julie Carter (Keswick AC) in 2:12:24 finishing 6th overall and also first FV40.

Lining up for the 10k was GB international mountain runner and Salomon sponsored athlete Emma Clayton, clearly determined to win the race outright. Setting off at a fast pace with Lee Amor (CFR), Lee eventually pulled clear over the rock section to win in 48:05 followed by Emma in 51:05.

With the three distances on offer the event is suitable for all abilities and judging by the smiling faces at the finish everyone left with a real sense of achievement.

A big thank you to the ‘behind the scenes’ people who helped ensure the event ran smoothly. In particular Simon Banks who cycled up to Black Sail the previous day carrying the entire supply of food for the feed station on his back. Thank you also to Wild Ennerdale partnership, Black Sail YHA, Salomon and 9Bar for fantastic prizes and event support and Ennerdale Scouts for the venue.

Race Photos

Click a photo to open larger slideshow (looks fantastic!)…

Race Listing

Click here for full details of the 2012 Ennerdale Trail Race, including links to results.

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