Peace treaty signed! Legs 1 & 4 of the IHMR with Karl ‘The Legend’ Gray

So after a sleepless night it turns out that Karlos the Jackal hadn’t checked Strava yesterday and it appeared that for a brief moment I just might escape his wrath after trespassing on his turf. That was however until I broke down and confessed my sins almost immediately after we picked him up in the car this morning to go for a run. Blubbering like a kid who’d just been caught nicking a mars bar from the local offy I just buckled under the pressure. I think I always knew he’d find out and thought my punishment might be less severe if I just told him straight.

The punishment for my Strava crime…a medium sized Latte from Costa, half a chocolate Nutri-grain bar and a 7 day ban from entering the realm of Brighouse whilst out for a run. A lenient sentence you might think but given the fact we were about to head up to the Lakes to recce Legs 1 and 4 of the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay it was clear he’d be making me suffer on the long punishing climbs.

For those that don’t know anything about the IHMR it’s basically the best mountain relay in the country because…

a) There aren’t any other mountain relays in the country

b) It’s rock hard

c) You need to be able to run fast up and down whilst trying not to get lost (almost impossible unless you run in a purple vest)

and d) It’s the most prestigious fell relay in the country so it’s on every proper fellrunner’s ‘to win list’.

The purple plodders AKA. Borrowdale win it every year, mainly because Mark ‘THE fastest OAP in the country’ Roberts knows every single blade of grass in the Lakes and always beats us on Leg 3.

2015 however is going to be different (cue Mark Robert’s yawning because we say this every year). But seriously this year we HAVE to win it because Darren Kay only signed for CVFR on the one condition that we win it (with him in the team) and most importantly because he’s dying to wear the pair of gold Oakley’s he’s bought to celebrate our achievement. So with this in mind we thought it best to recce the glory leg (yet again) just in case the clag is down on race day and we have to claw back the 10 minutes old man Roberts usually gains on leg 3.

As we were doing a quick hit and run on the Lakes in just one day we decided to do both leg 1 and 4 just for some extra miles and climb. The first ascent up to Angle Tarn is really runnable but hard graft. It usually takes Karl about 2 hours to warm up so I pushed the pace to try and make him suffer from the off. I thought it best to tire him out as early as possible so he couldn’t beast me too much on leg 4. The plan seemed to be working as every 5 minutes he was stopping for a piss but then I remembered he’s nearly 46 and bladder problems generally kick in once you hit the big 4-0. Point proven every time we stay in a youth hostel as a club, the toilet is always busier than the M62 in rush hour traffic during the night (Mr Gray obviously being the main culprit).


Pictured above: Karl #weakbladder

To be fair to Karl he climbed well today and only I know that because I was feeling great but I couldn’t ever seem to drop him. He’s a bit like an annoying wasp that you can’t squat, plus he can always hold a conversation on the steepest of ascents. It was clear from the start I was in for a tough day on the fells.


Pictured above: Angle Tarn (Leg 1)

The climb to Hart Crag on leg 4 is a monster. The steepest section is like the steps in Lord Of The Rings that Gollum skips up (a bit like Karl today). I looked at my Strava stats post run and the minute mile pace was 21 minutes, say no more.


Pictured above: Karl before the steep steps to Hart Crag

After the steps it’s route choice time. We usually stay on the main path which is runnable to the summit of Hart Crag but is a dog leg to the top. The other option is to do a Ben ‘God of Quads’ Bardsley and just head straight up 4×4 style. We chose the latter today, bloody hard work and I’m still not convinced which way is the best. Any advice is kindly appreciated- except if you’re from Borrowdale cos I don’t trust any of you 😉

IMG_2583 IMG_2582

Pictured above: The view to Patterdale from the summit of Hart Crag (L)  and The Master and Apprentice (R)

The final climb to St Sunday Crag is breathtaking, especially in good weather when you look down on it from Fairfield. It’s seriously runnable too which is great but it does mean you have to actually run it and after descending Cofa Pike at what feels like 50mph you’re usually in the red zone before you even hit the ascent.

We found a few choice lines today mainly because of the visability but it might well be a different story come race day. The only way we’re going to win is if we finally manage to run all 4 legs without any of us getting lost and most importantly Shaun Godsman loses a couple of stone before the start of October. Although judging by the size of him these days there’s more chance of Leeds winning the Premiership this season.

Click on the link below to see my run on Strava…


6 thoughts on “Peace treaty signed! Legs 1 & 4 of the IHMR with Karl ‘The Legend’ Gray

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