The weekend of 29 June saw the return of the 10 Peaks event in the Lake District, now with a new headline sponsor, Clif Bar. There was another key addition to this year's event, the introduction of the 'short' course, designed for those competitors that saw the 73km long course, with it's 5600m of height gain, a step too far. By missing out a few loop sections, the short course cuts down the overall distance to a more manageable 50km.
At 4am on Saturday morning 150 long course competitors set out on their journey to conquer the Lake District's highest peaks in under 24 hours. Historically only 33% of the starters would manage to successfully complete the challenge - on one occasion not one of the starters finished! An hour later, just over 60 short course competitors set off. Conditions looked quite reasonable but most of the peaks were hidden under cloud cover. This proved to be the case, but the fresh wind saw to it that every so often the cloud broke to reveal the spectacular views that the Lake District is renowned for.
Paul West-Watson was the first of the long course competitors to make it to the top of Helvellyn (the first of the 10 peaks). By the time the leaders had descended Helvellyn however, Luke Fradsham had fought to the front and established a small lead and maintained this over peaks 2,3,4 and 5 and on to England's highest peak, Scafell Pike.
After just 12 hours Tom Hollins (now the leader) summited the final peak, Skiddaw, but carried on pushing hard with the course record well within his sights. He reached the finish in just under 13 hours and 2 minutes, breaking last year's course record by 25 minutes, with Paul West-Watson home in second (13 hours and 23 mins) and Luke Fradsham finishing third in 13.55.
The ladies race was a different story entirely, with Angela Armstrong dominating from the start with an incredible performance and overall finish time of a fraction under 15 hours. This took over 3 hours off the course record that had been set in 2012 and was good enough to place Angela 9th overall. Sam Scott finished 2nd in a very respectable time of 17 hours and 53 minutes with Julie Fewster finishing third in 19 hours.
The short course soon put pay to anyone's ideas of it being 'the easy option'. In total there were 82 short course finishers, all within the 24 hour time limit. 60 had officially started as short coursers but had been joined by 46 converting long coursers, however 24 out of these 104 retired at some stage along the course.
On the weekend of 7 September, the next 10 Peaks event will take place in Brecon Beacons. The long course will be 90km and the short 58km- to find out more, visit the race website. northernrunningguide.com would like to thank Paul Smith for providing this race report.