Old County Tops fell race result

Race Date: Saturday 18th May 2024

The Old County Tops is the ‘Daddy’ of the Lake District fell races. It comes in at 35 miles with over 10000 feet of climb. This year’s edition was even hotter than last year’s but thankfully this time, my Inov8 xTalon 260 ultras decided to last the distance and not fall apart on me. However, that being said, they were in a much worse condition at the end than they were when I started.

As usual, we made a full weekend out of the race, so up to Langdale on Friday evening and placed our tents in the empty field of a fully booked campsite. We should have known, as a big group of DoE students soon pitched up not far from us. We escaped for a few pre race pints in the Old Dungeon Ghyll. Coincidently, OCT always falls on a folk festival weekend so there is plenty of musical entertainment in the pub too.

OCT is a paired race and the field of entrants was littered with ex-Striders, including my partner, Amy Duck. I was initially partnered with Jim Rangeley but he decided to shred his knee a few weeks so had to pull out.

The temperature was high from the off. The race requires an ascent and descent of Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Old Man of Coniston, in a loop starting and finishing at Langdale.

One thing that can be said about heat is it’s a good equaliser in abilities. Amy and I passed many people we wouldn’t expect to be anywhere near on a usual fell race. There were a lot of people suffering in the heat, with more sickness in this race than in the beer marathon I did the week previous (I did not witness any sickness on the beer marathon).

I couldn’t carry the amount of water I needed so started drinking out of the streams. I was weighing up the better of two evils, serious dehydration or stomach issues. One was a dead cert, the other would be unlucky. I chose the right option. Interestingly, the marshals at Angle Tarn didn’t seem too concerned as they were pulling buckets of water out of the tarn to fill people’s bottles up. I think the fast following streams were the best option.

Amy seemed to be fairing better than me towards the end as she chatted away to me as I grunted responses and shuffled my way to the end. Running is an interesting sport and I’m sometimes thoughtful about why we happily subject ourselves to such events in what we know will be torturous conditions. In the pub afterwards, I ordered pie and chips and sat and stared at it for nearly 2 hours whilst by stomach tried to come to terms with what had just happened. After a bit of rehydration, thanks to Loweswater Gold, my stomach started to cooperate.

And as if 35 miles wasn’t enough in the heat, we got up and did another 9 miles and 3500 feet the next morning, because we can and the weather was stunning. Like is say, running is an interesting sport. Now, who is up for a fun weekend away next year – Saturday 17th May 2025 🙂

The race winning male pair completed in 7.07.25. The female race winning pair finished in 9.09.42 and the mixed pair won in 8.04.54.

Striders results:

Pos Name Cat Time
61 Nick Burns (with Amy Duck) MX Sen 10.50.16

Full results:

Click to access OCT-2024-results-for-publishing-v1.pdf

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