Three time’s a charm for those returning to the SILVA Northern Traverse

The 2022 edition of the SILVA Northern Traverse, a challenging continuous race that follows Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast route, is the third edition of this event. This year, several dedicated ultra-runners have come back to run it for the third time, having now participated in every single race since its inception.

Eoin Keith, who won both the 2016 race and the 2018 race, returned to defend his title this year. Although he was beaten by Kim Collison’s record-breaking run, he still did a brilliant time of 54 hours 45 minutes, coming in 9th overall.

Three time’s a charm for those returning to the SILVA Northern Traverse

Eoin Keith flying through the Lake District section of the route © No Limits Photography

Mark Lattanzi flew all the way from the US to compete third time in a row

Mark Lattanzi enjoyed the race so much that he has come all the way from Virginia to race three times. This was his quickest time yet, as he arrived in Robin Hood’s Bay after 64 hours 50 minutes, coming in 18th.

“I was quicker this time,” he said, “surprisingly, because I’m more beat up and less trained. I got lost, of course. You’d think I’d know, but it all looks the same.”

He had some funny stories to tell from his previous experience.

“Last time I met Jen Scotney. We were running together, and it was in the morning. I passed her in some little town before Richmond, and there was a lady sitting with three tables. It looked like a little café. A woman came out right as I came by and she was carrying a cup of orange juice and I said, ‘oh, are you serving breakfast? Can I get an egg sandwich and a cup of juice too, please?’ She sort of looked at me and said, ‘sure.’” The lady came back out with some food and Mark sat down to have his sandwich and drink.

“About 5 minutes later Jen comes by and says, what are you doing?’” he continued. It turned out he had sat down, not at a café, but at someone’s house. “(Jen) said, only your American accent would have gotten you that breakfast.”

Unfortunately, this year Mark didn’t manage to wangle any free breakfasts, much to the disappointment of Jackie Stretton, Sophie Littlefair and Karen Nash, some of the other participants Mark spent a good portion of the race with this year.

Matt Neale was another runner who returned for more

We caught up with third time finisher, Matt Neale, in Richmond. He remembered fondly the half-mile sprint from previous events, when participants were encouraged to sprint back up the hill following their gruelling 300km experience. “What was funny was that people who finished at the back of the field did a good time, but Eoin Keith, he got something like nine hours 28, because his B&B was halfway up the hill, so he went to his B&B and the next morning walked up to the village hall.”

However, most finishers in Robin Hood’s Bay were thoroughly relieved to not be sprinting back up the hill this year, with many choosing to linger a while eating ice cream or drinking beer before attempting the punishing hill climb on already-sore legs.

Matt particularly enjoys the continuous race format of the event. “It’s not just about the running then – it’s looking after yourself as well. I do much better on those events really.”

Matt finished the course this year in 60 hours, 54 minutes, coming in 15th place. He barely seemed tired at the event centre in Robin Hood’s Bay, and stayed around a while to chat to his fellow runners and share experiences.

Three time’s a charm for those returning to the SILVA Northern Traverse

Matt Neale making his way through the Lake District on his 3rd Northern Traverse © No Limits Photography

Karl Shields was competing for a third time and for the second time with his wife

Karl Shields was also running the SILVA Northern Traverse for the third time, and this was his second time running it with his wife, Harriet Shields. We spoke to them on the start line.

Harriet Shields said: “We’ve done it together before and had a good time, so we’d like a repeat of that. We do it very slowly, very steadily, take all the time, and eat all the cream teas.”

When asked about his highlights from previous years, Karl said: “The Lakes are always good. Everyone will have a different perspective of some things, because if you arrive at Nine Standards in the dark, there’s not much to see, but if you arrive there at dawn, it’s magical.”

“I’ve done (the route) on previous races,” he continued, “and I’ve had so many different experiences in exactly the same bit, freezing hot, freezing cold, snow, sunshine.”

“We’ve done a few of these and we sort of know what we’re doing,” he said. “We did the Spine Race in January and we’ve survived that because Harriet dragged me round.”

Mark Lattanzi and Jackie Stretton had also encountered the intrepid pair en route, who had been travelling to each support point, then stopping for several hours to go out to dinner and enjoy themselves. “They called it the fun bus,” Jackie said jokingly.

When our media team caught up with them, they were enjoying a hearty meal in the Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge before pushing to the finish.

It’s been great to see so many people coming back for more, and especially seeing so many people enjoying their third time round just as much as their first. Now the question remains to be seen if they fancy coming back for a fourth…

Read more tales of adventure from day 4 here

Three time’s a charm for those returning to the SILVA Northern Traverse

Karl and Harriet enjoying dinner at the Lion Inn © No Limits Photography