Teenager with Altitude 2018 Fell Race Report

Most endurance runners look forward to April as an exciting month in the calendar. Light nights for more training, the start of the track and field season and the London Marathon. For me it is time to start getting back into the Lake District fell races. Highlight of the month for the last few years has been the Anniversary Waltz (11.5 miles and 3,600 feet of climbing) and its rather twisted older sibling the Teenager with Altitude (15.4 miles and 7,600 feet of climbing). Both were coming to an end this year after the death of co-organiser Steve Cliff. Steve raised over £750,000 to fight Motor Neurone Disease which took his life in January. I decided my first big fell race of the year would be the Teenager with Altitude 2018.

Anniversary Waltz 2018 race video

Weather pressures

Only three weeks before the race there had been snow on the ground in Stanley. The Beast from the East and its five foot high snowdrifts had only been gone a month. Now the weather was expected to be over 20 degrees throughout the race. Only one checkpoint along the route would have water. As I filled my bag the night before I was nervous about acclimatising to the heat. I feverishly studied my map to ensure I knew where the streams in which my water bottle could be refilled were located.

We arrived in the beautiful Newlands Valley on a bright sunny morning. Race kit on, sun cream rubbed in and final bag check over I jogged to the race HQ. After the ritual of number collection, kit check and safety briefing the run was underway.

Teenager underway

I’m near the back gasping for air already

After a long walk up Causey Pike in the first mile it was a relief to reach the check point at the top, only to veer from the ridge line down the side of the mountain. Two checkpoints later and an undulating detour we reached Grasmoor the highest peak on the race at 852 feet. After just over two hours I reached the Newlands Hause checkpoint. This was about half an hour before the cut off time and I greedily filled my bottle with fresh water.

The second half of the race was more familiar to me, but I began to struggle in the heat. I found it much more difficult than other times I have run similar routes. As always, the big climb to Robinson sapped energy and I needed more water supplies from a slow stream near Dalehead Tarn. I was slowing down and there was nothing I could do about it. I overtook a few of the slower runners completing the Anniversary Waltz on the way to Catbells.

A beautiful day brings out the crowds

Runners dropping off Cat Bells

After fifteen miles I could have done without the hundreds of tourists enjoying a day out on Catbells but safely navigated I pushed on down the steep grassy slopes and finished the Teenager with Altitude 2018 in a disappointing 4.25.40 (winner’s time 2.46.54). I was feeling dehydrated, hungry and drained. My watch said 16.6 miles. I’m not sure where the extra mile came from compared to the published distance.

Chauffeur for the day Jason Taylor, who had run the Anniversary Waltz, said I looked awful so job done as far as I’m concerned. A few lessons learnt but pushing yourself is what fellrunning is all about. I would love to do it again and hope someone else takes it on next year.

Have you done the Teenager with Altitude? Have you got any tips for next time or know where the extra mile came from? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more posts on our Dreaming of the fells blog page.

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