Running - Offroad (HBMR Recce (Legs 4 + 1)) 4:11:58  21.66 km (11:38 / km) +1488m 8:40 / km
ahr:112 max:142 shoes: Mudclaw G260
Forecast was fairly poor (gusts up to 50mph, increasingly arduous, mix of constant rain and showers, downpours with risk of thunder, very wet underfoot, rivers in spate or flood, extensive cloud will shroud hills) but very few options today meant I decided to proceed with the plan regardless.
It was only when stopped at the services in the torrential rain halfway there that I realised I didn't have to start at the beginning of leg 1 and could in fact start at the end of leg 4, since the four legs are are a bit figure-of-eight-y, and then I'd have an option to only do 2 and end up near the car, rather than in the middle of nowhere.
So proceeded with that plan - parked at Sykeside. Conditions grim as forecast. Ankle deep water on first path, and that continued throughout - forecast could've said 'rivers in flood; paths in spate'. Not cold at least, especially in 3 layers+wproof trousers.
1k of flat track before becoming singletrack rocky/grassy path climb for another k, then becoming rocky steps up Dove Crag. One of the thin blue streams on the map was so swollen I got halfway across and decided it was too dangerous; had to turn back and go 50m upstream before finding somewhere safer to cross. From the tarn I cut the corner most of the way to Hart Crag - suspect this wouldn't be a great idea in the race - I found no evidence of a trod, it's boggy and rough, and gets rocky near the top too. Probably faster on the path. Nb coming down those steps on leg 3 would be very slow/dangerous! I wonder if a grassy alternative is possible north of the stream?
I thought it looked like there was a path around to the W down from the summit of Hart, but this ended in a cliff. Best just to stay on the ridge. Straightforward up to Fairfield, bit windy (ie - blowing a gale) and then off to the N. Never been off Fairfield that way before, Cofa Pike is very rocky and there were 30s when I thought Deepdale Hause was going to turn into Crib Goch (spoiler - it doesn't). It looked like there might've been a grassier way down slightly further W off Fairfield.
Fairly slow slippery ascent to St Sunday Crag and then rocky off the top. In the zero vis I started following the compass but then changed my mind and went with the cairns which go N and down the steep rocky spur - if I did it again I'd go NE to join another trod which is grassier instead and they join later on. Then just staying on the obvious path, which is the lower on the map rather than the green one on the ridge finally the first bit of good running (well would've been - today; splashing) before more steep steps down after the gate.
I definitely underestimated this relay when I saw that the legs were fairly short; it's very much not to be trifled with.
Couldn't go through Side Farm (sign saying path through fields was flooded, thought about ignoring it but then looked at fields - suspect it would've been chest deep (at least?) so stayed on road a bit longer and up through Rooking).
Once on fell, path becomes single track but there is an upper and lower one. I stayed on the upper because it seemed like the main path, but when they joined in 400m (long split) the lower seemed the main. In the race either would be fine. Both looked to have rocky steps.
Path kinks uphill then passes obvious sheepfold before turning south. Then fairly good path, splits and I took higher which is marginally shorter with marginally more climb; think I'd do it again but lower would be fine if wanted to make other teams doubt themselves as they rejoin just before the tarn.
Tarn emerged out of the mist like something from LoTR - beautiful. I thought the peninsula might be flooded, but it wasn't so went to visit the actual control site.
Back to path - continues for longer than I expected past the bend before trod to the South, but trod is obvious when it comes to saddle across wall and then to second wall.
Then from this point really not sure what to do. I started to follow the obvious trod but that turns into the mapped path which goes too far West of the stream. So I cut back toward the stream assuming I would hit a trod going straight down the stream - which I didn't, there was nothing. That wasn't too bad (steep though) until I got to the chest deep bracken and there was still nothing? There must be a good race line somewhere but it isn't this? It didn't look like there was anything the other side of the stream? Need to find someone who's done the leg I think. If not, might be faster to stay on the diagonal path until after the third stream then go due south, as that looks from Google to avoid the worst of the bracken even though it's a few hundred metres further.
Easy track run to finish although I confess to using the footbridge in Hartsop as the ford looked a bit dicey.
Tried to use the permissive path alongside Brothers Water to get back to the car, but had to turn back after 100m since the path led directly into the lake - there was no telling how deep it would get so did a small amount of road running.
Character building day. Could park there again and do legs 2 and 3 - although actually these worked quite well since I've done all of 2 except the first ascent and all of 3 the last descent, before as they're on the Joss. I think I'll be requesting to do 2 rather than 4 for the race! But we shall see.