Posted: Yesterday at 14:54
I can honestly say, that I've never been in such a harsh environment as that and the marshals that were on the mountain all day (and all night apparently) are a hardy bunch indeed.
The descent begins, but I'm so worried about falling due to a combination of tiredness, inexperience over this type of terrain, wearing the wrong kind of shoes, worries about my hip, fear of heights, that I'm not that much quicker going down than coming up. There was also the matter of climbing up the roped section which I wasn't looking forward to. I made it down in one piece and even managed a 7:30minute last mile (flat) to the finish (although I did get lost a bit in the fading light).
I crossed the finish line with relief that it was over and I wasn't interested in the finish time just happy to be in one piece.
I collected my medal etc and looked back up the mountain and you could still see headlamps coming down the mountain side in the dark. There were people still finishing at 21hrs. Of the 140 hardy souls that started, there were 98 finishers. A handful dropped out after the swim due to the cold, a few dropped out during and after the bike, more again dropped out after going up the Screes, a few stopped before going up Scafell. Brutal.
Was it the hardest race I'e ever done? Yes, physically demanding and mentally testing although I didn't ever get close to quitting or feel at the limit. The slow pace on the "run" was probably beneficial in this respect.
Would I do it again? I've softened from a "definite no" to a "probably not". The swim and bike sections are excellent and you'd struggle to find anything as epic anywhere in the world. The run just wasn't runny enough for me. It suits climbers, fast hikers, hard core fell runners but not me. After the bike,I felt like I could have knocked out a 3:45 marathon or maybe even quicker on a flat surface. As it was it took me around 9.5hrs for a total race time of 17hrs 50.
Am I glad I did it? Yes. It was an amazing, amazing experience and I'm sure it will stand out in the memory in years to come. The camaraderie between the competitors, the sense that you are doing something epic, the incredible terrain on the mountains and the views (when not in the cloud) were truly special.