Keswick Mountain Festival – 19th May 2024

by Dawn Milburn

2023 saw our Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF) debut with us taking on the 10km course. The real draw of this was the start on the boat and the anticipated views over Derwentwater. Possibly the most beautiful race we have ran, we wanted more! 2024 saw us take on the 25km trail event.

With a start in Keswick’s famous Crow Park, a picturesque start line overlooking the serenity of Derwentwater and Catbells, it was set to be a beautiful day. With the temperatures set to climb throughout the day, we were feeling nervous on the start line, anticipating high temperatures and a chance of sunburn for Thom.

As the race kicked off, we soon found ourselves in convoy with hundreds of other runners, quickly climbing along single tracks towards Walla Crag. Whilst congested, and by no means a PB pace, it allowed us to take in the scenery that the Lakes are famous for. We continued to climb to Ashness Bridge, a Lakeland honeypot site, and headed in the direction of Watenlath. Upon which, we began to lose height and head towards our first check point around the 10km point.

Due to the temperature, we had all consumed our litres of water, so restocked before taking on the “undulating” terrain of the west shore of Derwentwater. A breaking point for some, there may have been some expletives aimed in the general direction of the rocks. The technical terrain was unforgiving and relentless for the uninitiated trail runner. However, it provided a real taste of the Lakeland fells.

The second half was tamer. We meandered northward towards Portinscale, following the shores of Derwentwater. Every few metres providing us with fleeting glimpses of our favourite place on Earth, The Queen of the Lakes. The home straight towards Keswick, and familiar territory for us both, still saw us aching and worrying about hydration, due to the temperature reaching a crazy 24 degrees. With an uphill sprint to the finish, we were left grateful yet wanting more. KMF, we will be back next year, the 50km maybe?

PS: the pints after were well deserved by all who took part.

A big thank you to Lakeland’s DCH running club for allowing us to join them on their reccies for parts of the route – a credit to the running community.

Dawn and Thom Milburn