Kong Winter Series Round 5 - BB KONG

Blencathra - she's beautiful, in all weathers! The 5th and final round of the Kong Winter Series.

Nicky Merrett
By Nicky Merrett


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Blencathra - She's beautiful, & in all weathers, but i’m convinced her summit moved… it took a rather long time to appear!


Affectionately known as Saddleback for her formidable shape, and this she will always be, to many who speak of her…


The five fingers of a cloud shrouded Blencathra, branch down around her, leading to the sleepy village of Threlkeld on the south side.   This particular morning, the village is alive with a little under 200 runners, all on a mission to Threlkeld village hall… registration awaits them, & once again, a super slick system with SI Entries.



All registered, and ready for banter… Callum from VOOM Nutrition moved my thoughts away from a somewhat steep ascent awaiting, with banter of new flavours and the choice of the original hard Pocket Rocket or the new soft version… i’ve yet to decide!  Arrival of Ambleside Girls and the nerves dissipate.  A group warm-up makes for a fun whizz up and down, stretch the legs, get the glutes active… yep, that niggling glute is still misbehaving… although it did manage a Gerry Chandley Round earlier in the week. 


Oh yes, I forgot to mention the 47km on Monday and the 27km on Tuesday (total nearly 3700m) in full on winter conditions… a joyous 2 days of navigation and banter.  4 days later, will the legs really carry me to the top of ‘this’ glorious mountain too?




A Cold mist hangs over the village, and once again the clothing deliberation begins.  A swift decision and a lesson from the previous 4 races… long sleeves and a windtop half zipped and ready for slipping on at speed.  Lost the race vest and moved to an OMM waist belt to enable this swift addition of wind top, i’ve got it worked out now.  Dislike being cold intensely, so had to sort this out and get it right!



And so it begins, for the last of series.  Paul and his words of warnings alongside encouragement too as we gather in the narrow lane for the start.  Slippy & rocky, ups, and hugely slippy and rocky downs, avoid the scree and follow the descent flags to steer your off the top of Blease Fell.



And off…. Mud mud and more extra slippy mud… a slight traverse, just to put you off kilter, 10 minutes in, and my friend from Ambleside AC is on the ground, she seems ok, but nasty twisted ankle.  She shouts for Sara and then me to carry on, and not to stop.  She's still in the field and close to the start, I reassured Sara the sweeper would be seconds away and would get some help for her…  Of course if we had been on the mountainside we would have waited with her, and helped her back… but now we moved on, and round and across her lower flanks (Blencathra).



Around the base of Hallsfell Ridge, and Doddick Ridge looms above you… up up up, thought I had a good position for my fitness levels, but as we ascended I wanted to pass, yet didn't want to go too fast, too soon?


Passed on twisty bits, spotting the breaks in the heather, nipping past a few, & this gave incentive to do it again and again, with my friend Sara, we’re pretty even and ticking off runners as we passed, together, I’ve never run together like this on a steep ascent, it was fun to have a buddy, we spurred each other on, all smiles, legs didn't burn, and breathing ok, but remembered there's still a long way up to go, keep steady, and straight line it… the top of the ridge finally arrived under my feet, and sharp left onto the steady less steep ascent to the top, but it took one mighty long time to appear, up and along, gentle up and more along, then one final up and eventually she arrived… and the floor level trig point confirmed my position.



I wanted to jump for joy and shout, ‘yes’... but runners all around, can't let it get away… I'd worked to keep my position, just keep going Nics… flying along to Blease Fell and holding my place, or so I thought… thick mist, still holding her summit, but runners were appearing to my right - oh, on, I knew I should have had a recce up here… a better line, no ascent onto Blease Fell, I could have cut underneath… blast!



Last smiley faces of the fab Kong Marshal team, though the last timing bleeps… and then the steepest descent I think I have ever moved down… ever! For some reason the descent still wasn't happening for me, that’s the same for the last 2 races. Maybe I'm out of practice? 




The feet were gripping nicely, so not sure what my problems was.  Now those around me were starting to slow up, i felt it too, the silver feathery lichen was woven amongst the grass towards the middle of the descent… it became super slippy, then the bracken, but this had been broken up nicely by the forerunners, the gradient lessened, and the runoff began.  Sara was well ahead now on the descent, she was running down amazingly well… no way I could catch her!



I was still smiling though… I have completed all 5 of the Kong Winter Series… with the juggling of life and kids, somehow i managed to make it happen……… Yippee, never done anything like this before…… being part of a ‘thing’, a series.  This, the BB Kong, had best welcome into the finish of them all.



Thank you team, this has kept me going all Winter… I will be back, all 5 again next year! I hope you put a summer series on too?

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