Phil Burgess reports on his adventure in Cumbria
first Coniston 14 was in 2006, the 25th anniversary of the
race, a beautiful undulating 14 mile course around Lake Coniston in
Cumbria. I’d been tempted there by an old friend and work colleague who
persuaded me to join a well-established male-bonding group who meet up
for an “outdoor” weekend, to include the race, for a number of years.
Up on the Friday, race Saturday morning, omelette lunch at a greasy
spoon on the home stretch then on the mountain bikes for an afternoon
“jolly” up the unridable Cumbrian hills. A skinful of ale on Saturday
night, then on Sunday, by way of further relaxation we go hill
scrambling or make a casual climb up Helvellyn!
then I was the oldest and fastest (1:42). Now, as I add my sixth slate
memento to the other five, I have to report slipping to just over the 2
hour mark. But I am still the oldest!
race is brilliant. Some 1800 runners (quite a lot of look-alike “cotton
tops”) assemble in the school field by the famous Coniston Steam Gondola
jetty for a well-organised, unfussy start. Admin is impeccable and
understated. There is chip-timing with texted results. Plenty of
trade tents, food and drink and hot showers! Interestingly, they can’t
afford to pay for road closures, so they aren’t any Everyone just
co-operates and the police are on our side! (Wimborne 10 could maybe
save a penny or two?).
course heads South along the 593 to Torver then heads to Water Yeat
where it crosses the first bridging point. This was washed away after
the big floods in 2009 which led to the race being extended to 17 miles
for a couple of years. Ouch!
return leg along the side of the lake has got to be one of the most
scenic of runs. A big climb at 11 miles at John Ruskin’s famous
Brantwood house and all the hard stuff is over. Less than 3 miles takes
you round the top of the lake and back into Coniston. It’s a long way
to go, but add a few days and/or take the bikes up too and it’s well
worth the effort.