The 2022 SILVA Northern Traverse had all the signs of being a big year from the starting list alone, with some seriously big hitters due to take part. As events transpired, the winner of both the men's and the women's race was never in doubt, with Kim Collison and Lisa Watson taking an impressive lead from early on, then maintaining a dominant pace throughout. Both not just broke, but smashed the respective men's and women's race records.
The Northern Traverse follows Wainwright's Coast to Coast, starting at St. Bees and ending at Robin Hood's Bay. Over the course of 300km it weaves a spectacular route through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks, with over 6,500m of ascent. This year's weather was kind, with dry and bright conditions, but with a cool breeze. Ironically, as is so often the case, the weather has turned as the winners have come in, meaning that the rest of the field now has to battle through more adverse conditions.
Lisa Watson is perhaps best known for winning the 2019 Dragon's Back Race, where after a steady start she seemed to gain pace day by day, eventually finishing over two hours ahead of her nearest competitor - Sabrina Verjee:
In 2021 she completed the Dragon's Back's sister event, the Cape Wrath Ultra, finishing 2nd woman - 3rd overall. However, both of these races are staged events, meaning they have the luxury of being broken up into manageable chunks, with overnight stops in between where you can (at least in theory) rest and recover. The Northern Traverse, being a non-stop race, by definition doesn't stop, meaning that competitors have to battle with the attiditional fatigue brought about by lack of sleep. In spite of this, Lisa finished in a time of 52:52:57, finishing well ahead of the previous women's record of 63:18:13 set by Karen Nash.
Kim Collison's name is most strongly associated with 24 hour records, and by this we don't mean the 'big rounds' (i.e. Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsay), because to Kim these seen to take a lot less than 24 hours!
Kim infamously broke Mark Hartell's 1997 Lakes 24 hour record by running 78 peaks over 2000ft within a time of 23 hours and 45 minutes. He then gave the Munro 24 hour record the same treatment, completing an unbelievable 33 Munros within the space of 23 hours and 48 minutes. However, much like Lisa his name is less strongly associated with non-stop racing, and after an abortive attempt on The Spine Race earlier this year, it was clear from social media that he wanted to make amends on the Northern Traverse. It would seem he succeeded, having finished in a time of 44:24:30 - significantly ahead of the previous record of 51:26:17, set by Eoin Keith.
The Northern Traverse's smaller brother/sister event, The Cumbrian Traverse, was also held over the weekend. This follows the first 100km of the Northern Traverse, taking in the Lake District National Park and ending at Shap. The men's race was won by Daniel Weller in a time of 11:05:46, and the women's race by Katie Karrs Sijpesteijn, who came in just a couple of minutes after in a time of 11:07:21 - 2nd place overall.
Catch up on all the action from yesterday, including the nail-biting finish at the Lakes Traverse and the highlights of the Northern Traverse, with our latest blog post 🎉🏆https://t.co/4x0O3XLj1Y— Northern Traverse (@northerntravrse) April 3, 2022