On Saturday Lorraine took on this gruelling race and in true Slater style smashed the course record to finish in 9h 36m and 5s.
Race report from Lorraine
Following a good run out at Pendle way in a Day I decided that I wanted to try another ultra. To fit in with family life I wanted one that was reasonably local so that I could recce it but not have to spend a day traveling to get to it. I looked on GB Ultra website and found Pennine Barrier and decided to enter it. It was after all only another 5 miles further that what I’d previously run. It was only as the race got nearer that it dawned on me that it was 3000ft more climb. I knew it would be challenging as it took in the 3 peaks.
I managed to recce the start and finish sections and practiced running Whernside and Ingleborough on my training runs. The week before the race I started wondering whether this was a step too far, the 3 peaks on their own are hard enough never mind running 12 undulating miles before you start on Penyghent. I thought it would probably take me between 10.5 and 11 hours. I’d never been out running that long and wasn’t sure how I’d fuel as I’m not good at eating during races. On the recce with Gary Bradley, John Boothman and Ian Cocks one of the most important things they kept reminding me was that I needed to eat real food, oh and not to set off too fast.
I had practiced eating salted boiled potatoes and decided that I could probably manage those on race day and they didn’t seem to upset my stomach when running.
On the morning of the race I was up at 4.10am, having hardly slept anyway, along with my husband Gary who had offered to drive me to the start. It was a staggered start and my start time was 6.16am with instructions not to enter the race field until 15 minutes before. We arrived at Malham about 5.45am and waited in the carpark, with several visits to the loo, until my allocated time.
As Gary pulled up at the side of the road a friendly marshal approached me and asked me if I was running. I informed her that my start time was 6.16 so I was just waiting until I could enter the field only to be told people were just turning up and queuing and that the queue was half way round the field already! A last minute faff about and I decided to wear arm warmers with my vest to set off as it was pretty cool still and I knew I would be standing about. Whilst I was standing in the queue I started to shake/shiver. The people around thought that it was because I was cold but I think it might have been down to nerves as I worried about completing the course. As I approached the start line I was given a tracker and the friendly runner in front ensured that it was attached properly…. I didn’t want to be paying £150 if I lost it on route!
Some of the runners were setting off in small groups but I was setting off on my own, so quick photo by the organisers and off I went. Running through Malham and towards Malham Cove my legs felt abit heavy but I knew that they would ease off as I hadn’t warmed up yet. I approached the steps up Malham and started to pass runners, although I was conscious that a guy was breathing down my neck and about to pass me. I would spend the last 15 miles toing and froing with this guy. As we headed towards Malham Tarn I could see another female moving well in front of me so I started to chase her, even running through a field of cows! (those that know me now my fear of cows!). As we approach the tarn you have to run down the road and switchback. The female in front was going fast on the road and I didn’t want to be pushing too hard at this point so just settled in behind her. As we turned to run back along the road we ran into a head wind that was really quite strong and slowed both of us down, the female then bent down to tie her shoe lace which meant that she was running behind me into the wind. We chatted abit and then as we headed off towards the tarn I manged to leave her and chase down a group of men in front.
The undulating miles over Fountains Fell seemed to pass fairly quickly and before I knew it I was at checkpoint 1, 12 miles in and facing the climb up Penyghent. As I started up Penyghent I could see hundreds of walkers and that was the theme for the day. As I was approaching the scramble up Penyghent, trying to avoid getting stuck behind a walker I saw John Boothman heading in the opposite direction. I shouted over to him and together with Gary Bradley (and Benson) they had been tracking me but thought that I was a bit further down the hill. Words of encouragement from both men telling me how strong I was climbing definitely helped. They informed me that there were only 2 or 3 females in front and they ran down Penyghent with me, words of encouragement all the way. As I dodged all the walkers and chased another female that I could see in front I briefly saw Rachel Lowther coming the other way waving her arms and cheering me on. John, Gary and Benson ran with me as I headed towards High Birkwith as I passed another female and then peeled off towards Horton saying that they would see me on Ingleborough and good luck on Whernside.
The next few miles I steadily managed to pass runners and when I reached checkpoint 2 at Ribblehead I was told that I was 1st lady. I was aware that it was a staggered start and so may not be the fastest lady to that checkpoint in the end so I quickly filled my water bottles and carried on. It was starting to get warm now but I still had my arm warmers on. I’m not sure if it was a comfort thing or what really but they stayed o the whole race when really I should have taken them off, the right one was chaffing but I still kept it on!
As I ran up Whernside I carried on dodging the walkers and trying to catch runners. As I approached the summit I glanced at my watch and realised that if I carried on running like I was that I could have a chance at the course record. I was certainly at Whernside a lot sooner than I expected. I could see my husband, brother in law and nephew on the top of Whernside so quickly took a gel off Gary and carried on running. I didn’t dare tell them that I was now trying for the course record but couldn’t stop to chat for fear of wasting time. I hope that I didn’t appear rude! I set off down Whernside knowing that descending this sort of terrain is not my strong point so kept focussed and only went over on my ankle once. As I approached Hill Inn I looked for the checkpoint which was higher up the road than I thought and shouted back a runner who had taken the turning into the field along the 3 peaks race route. Again I filled my water and added electrolytes and set straight off up Ingleborough, eating some of the boiled potatoes. I had managed to eat some pieces on the way round as well as a banana, gels and a soreen bar so was hopefully fuelled enough to get up Ingleborough. I trotted past walkers who asked me what race I was doing and when I explained they told me I was mad…hmmm yes maybe a little!
As I got nearer the top of Ingleborough and started scrambling I heard the words “come on Slater” and looked up to see Gary and John again. A few walkers moved to one side once they realised that I was racing and I pressed on. As I was approaching the summit I saw the guy running down who had passed me at Malham, he looked to be running well and so I wanted to try and catch him if I could. I ran across the rocky top to the trig, quick touch and John took a photo and then headed back towards Horton. John, Gary and Benson kept me company running down Ingleborough and offered lots of encouragement and reminded me to fuel and drink plenty. By now the sun was out and I was getting hot so Gary kindly tipped water over my head and neck to cool me down. John ran ahead and opened gates (when he remembered! One job John!) and both kept telling me how well I was moving. I didn’t tell them that I was trying for the record as I didn’t want jinx anything but I felt comfortable. As we approached the train station Gary and John said that they were going right and as I thanked them and headed to Horton I heard the words of encouragement “Don’t be shit!”. That’s ultra runners for you.
At the checkpoint in Horton I again filled my water and set off and noticed the guy (called Scott) that I had seen coming off Ingleborough. He was walking along the road whilst he ate so I set off running hoping to leave him. Going up Bracken bottom was tough. The sun was beating down, there was no shade and it was a real drag. I looked behind and saw Scott, I couldn’t seem to gain any distance on him. I turned right towards Silverdale Road and the final checkpoint. As I got there the friendly marshal told me that I looked like I needed sugar (not sure what that looks like) and after filling my water bottles asked if I wanted some flat coke. I was a little hesitant as didn’t want to break my routine but he was fairly insistent. He gave me a cup and it was like nectar. He’d even managed to keep it cool. I set off from that checkpoint just in front of Scott to the cheers form the marshals telling me I looked strong and the coke would help me up fountains fell. I ran along the road and then turned right up the last climb. I could see 2 runners in front with poles and did wonder whether I should have tried some, anyway I shuffled up the climb toing and froing with Scott. As we reached the top and the more runnable bits I tried to put more effort in to leave the 2 runners with poles behind. It worked. I still felt comfortable running across the moor and past the tarn but as I approached the top of Malham Cove I started to feel sick. I glanced at my watch to see if I still had the record in reach only to find that my watch had died!! I was sure that I had set it to last 15 hours but it must not have synced with my laptop. I knew then all I could do was hold on and keep running. I ran towards Gordale Scar with Scott and onto Janets Foss. This was heaving with tourists and I had to politely ask a lady to move out of the way as she was struggling getting down the rocks as I knew that I must be close to the record and didn’t have time to wait. Scott and I were running together along the path and he said that we should run in together, however I was now feeling really sick and kindly told him it was fine for him to run in front. I managed a strong run in without throwing up and saw Gary just before the finish line taking my photo. As I crossed the line I asked the organised if he knew my time. He told me that the results would be out the following day, I must have put on a pathetic face and said “ but I was going for the course record so just wanted to know as my watch has stopped”. Scott said he was certain that I had done it but the organiser kindly disappeared to check the chip time for me and came back and told me I had completed it in 9 hours 36 minutes 5 seconds! I had done it, the previous record was 9 hours 43 minutes.
I proudly told Gary who bought me a celebratory ice cream, that was the best thing ever!!
About 20 minutes later I was also announced as the female winner and awarded a gold plate.
It was a good day out with brilliant marshals, friendly runners and great support from John, Gary, Benson, Rachel and my Gary. Job done!