Garnett Bridge runner completes 41-miles Lakes challenge

John Fleetwood after completing the run

John Fleetwood after completing the run

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

IT SOUNDS simple enough - find a straight line spanning the Lake District, then run it.

That was the challenge seasoned long-distance fell runner John Fleetwood, 47, set himself after 11 years pounding well-known paths in the Lake District.

But as he began plotting his new route, there was the added complication of having to avoid lakes, cliff-edges, tarns, settlements and privately-owned land on his journey.

So the ex-geography student studied a map and came up with a potential route.

Starting in the west and heading east, it took him from Cleator Moor on Cumbria’s west coast, to the moorland and wooded forests of Shap.

It represented 50 grid squares on his map, and 41 miles in total, taking in a lofty 19,500 feet of climb and several scenic high points.

As Mr Fleetwood, a self-employed company director, admits: “It’s a bit of a bizarre thing to do and there are not many places in the Lakes you can do it. “It is totally illogical to go in a straight line in the Lakes, as you end up going where even sheep don’t go.”

“Usually if you try to go in a straight line in the Lakes you’ll end up in a lake or over a cliff.”

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The epic journey saw the father-of-one leave his home at Garnett Bridge, between Kendal and Staveley, at 4.15am. He took with him food to last a day and a half, spare clothing and a bivvy bag.

Due to his load, the virgin expedition became more of an amble than a run. It took 20 hours and 45 minutes for him to complete and he believes he never deviated more than 200 metres from his original path, apart from a half-a-mile detour in Grasmere to avoid trespassing.

At the end, the sense of satisfaction was huge but Mr Fleetwood admitted ‘my feet were trashed.’ Mr Fleetwood, who has completed 24-hour runs and the 100 mile Tour de Mont Blanc, said: “It’s not something I’d do again. It takes you over some very, very rough ground!”

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