Tour de Helvellyn The 37-ish mile Tour de Helvellyn takes place on the shortest Saturday of the year, and Euan, Laura and I had entries postponed from 2020. The course starts in Askham, near Penrith, runs out along tracks overlooking Ullswater, and then along Boredale, before going up and over Boredale hause to drop down into Patterdale. The next part is the circuit, travelling over Sticks pass, then along a forestry track past Swirls carpark, climb up to Grisedale tarn, then run out through Grisedale to Patterdale, and retrace your steps home.

Qionghu In this race you start whenever you like after 7am, although if you arrive at the Patterdale checkpoint (approx 10 miles in) before it opens at 930am you are forced to wait (or threatened with disqualification!). I set off at about 0815, with a friend of mine who was also running. I knew as soon as we set off that the pace was a bit too quick for me but decided to try to stay with him until Patterdale, which I just about managed to do. The weather was perfect, very cool low down in the valleys, and hot up on the tops. As we climbed up out of Patterdale towards Sticks pass I could feel my legs already protesting the quick start, possibly with a little bit of residual fatigue from the shale race last week, but although my muscles were achy, I felt like I still had a reasonable amount of energy, especially when it came to climbing. Just after about halfway (Swirls carpark) I passed Euan and Laura, who had started just ahead of me. We ran together for a short time, then after I had accidentally trodden on Laura’s foot while she was crossing a river, I pushed on quite hard up Grisedale by myself, trying to make the most of the climbing, as by this time going up steeply was the only bit that didn’t hurt.

The long return home from the top of Boredale hause was 9 miles of unpleasant plodding on very tired legs. I had by this time caught anyone I was going to and was getting passed by faster runners who didn’t seem to be in as much pain as I was (I was feeling a bit sorry for myself by this point!). I finally made it back, to some soup, cake and tea, and a bottle of ‘Helvellyn Gold’ bitter given to each finisher.  Apart from some sore legs (probably not the race director’s fault), this was a great race, well organised, and the variable start time meant that you mix with a lot of the field (in a covid safe manner) so it’s quite a sociable race. I doubt the weather will ever be as favourable again though… 

Results are at: Open Tracking – Tour De Helvellyn 2021 Results

Alistair 22nd place 7hrs 23 mins

Laura 58th place 8hrs 21 mins

Euan 59th place 8 hrs 21 mins