By Alan Gibson
A marketeers dream is the Coniston 14, arguably up there as one of the most beautiful road races in the country, and for a race organized by a small community there must be some sweat on as their team have to cater for over 1500 runners; imagine that 3 bluebells and a team much smaller than 'Team Stainland', one hell of an effort for in essence the local village school - !!!
The race, well small roads, country lanes and lots of runners, busy, busy initially then clears after a couple of miles - so you'll need to wait a minute or two to hit the chip start mat and then get some deep breaths in, as you are now into the respiration challenges and cheeky undulations all the way up to Torver - after the initial kicker of Bowmanstead, you can now breath - now take a look sideways across the picturesque fields, [springly] abound with freshly born lambs.
Brown Howe, lake level then gives you the most amazing views of the Lake Coniston, this year accentuated by, a clear, chilled day that offered crystal clarity that intermediated between a chill wind and the warm spring sunshine welcomed on your back or face dependent on your orientation around the lake. The race continues now as it returns to Coniston, past John Ruskin's house the great 19th Century philosopher and then the small islands remembered from my childhood through the classic 'Swallows and Amazons' - finally the runners join the pathways frequented by walkers outward and returning from a steamer trip; only one thought on my mind now the Bluebird and the Bluebird Brewery serving the most magnificent pint of ale, I think well deserved as returning to fitness 38 seconds differential on my last year’s time.
There was a Stainland thing going on too, Eileen Hillier breezed past me on 6 miles and I never saw team Stainland again during the race; then viewing the finishers, Carol appeared running steady away as she tests the terrain she will face a few weeks hence during the Windermere Marathon and finally strong runs from the returning to fitness Chris Tetlow and Clive Siddall anyway here(s) the times –
1. Eileen Hiller - 2:11:52
2. Alan Gibson - 2:16:26
3. Carol Lord - 2:28:57
4. Chris Tetlow - 2:34:35
5. Clive Siddall - 2:46:49
Afterthoughts, it really is a scenic beauty and I will be back for another 14 next year!