Buttermere Beat Us

Breca Buttermere Swimrun

by Fiona Towell
Every athlete has ONE event every year and this one was mine for 2018 :
Sadly my new super-dooper trail vivobarefoot shoes (been running in them for 3 months) resulted in a collapsed arch in my right foot on the Wednesday night club run on the 8th August so feeling very tearful and unable to walk on Thursday I continued to RICE and texted an SOS to Carmel at The Sports Therapy Room where I proceeded to cry before, during and after treatment – only the post treatment tears were ones of joy at the truly biblical miracle (or was it a spell?) that her healing hands cast removing the worst of the sting from the upper bridge of my foot above my toes.
I gingerly walked to the passenger seat of the car …
Luckily I’m not a ‘performance’ athlete so all I have to do is keep moving to make the cut off times 🤞 and at that point I had 40 hours to prepare.
In normal circumstances I would have pulled out, but one has a buddy on SwimRun and one doesn’t let one’s buddy down unless one is crawling ..
So, to the event:
The sun shone for the Saturday evening briefing of course ahead of the forecast rain ☔️ for Sunday.
We were all bussed out to the blustery start at 7:30am. Our bus and the one ahead went the wrong way and the drivers had to do three point turns on Lake District lanes much to our confusion and amusement.
It started with a hill: Alex and I were at the back from the start. And that’s pretty much where we stayed trading last and second last place with a couple of blokes throughout …
The swims are just beautiful. The swell was high for the first couple but despite the weather forecast the sun came out and the lakes stilled for our next 5 ..
With 11 swims and 12 runs at Buttermere it takes a while to get into a rhythm but we did – until we hit the first hill.
We dug in. We were expecting some clambering over rocks but not to that extent!
We knew the downhills would be tough and neither of us are mountain goats but we weren’t expecting to travel kilometres on our bums.
The views however were spectacular!
The boys overtook us on the downhills and drifted off (literally) in the swims where we managed to judge the currents and sight better.
25 minutes ahead of cut off time at Checkpoint 4 before the Buttermere 14k section we figured we might make it. That gave us 3 hours and 20 minutes to get over and into the next valley.
A glance at the sheer climb in front of us as we stuffed new potatoes and Jaffa cakes into our mouths and the rock face above it didn’t deter us but it should have!
It took us 3 hours and 50 minutes to reach the final check point on the other side.
We are NOT and never will be ‘fell runners’
During that trek the soles of the old trainers I had to wear came off (both feet) and I had to strap them on with my shoe-laces. They still caught on the rocks and filled up even more with gravel. Our nice (and nimble) marshal tail walker ripped the duck tape from the markers to fashion a better seal but two stream crossings later they were off!
Thankfully the streams allow water bottle replenishing up there but it’s still a mission to clamber in and bend down that far in to the race.
Another lovely ‘lady of the fells’ filled my water bottle up from the stream.
Big thumbs up 👍 to all of the marshals at this event.
When the lads overtook us on the downhills leaving the tail walker with us they were generally bickering.
I had the best buddy ever in Alex – we encouraged each other throughout.
It was marvellous to see my hubby at several lake crossings – and he tackled the back half of Buttermere to bring us lucozade just when we needed it and accompanied us down lifting our spirits when we knew we weren’t going to make it.
Buttermere well and truly beat us. But it was a whole six minutes before the boys appeared out of the fern and joined us for the lift back to HQ where I threw my trainers in the bin and refused the proffered tee-shirt ‘cos it had ‘finisher’ written on it 🤣
Brilliant event and I WILL tackle it again – one day …
Commiseration Drinks on Wednesday.
9.5 brutal hours (all the post race Pain and no medal) I’ll be damned if I’m running beforehand.😉