The Four Passes – five years on…

My daughter Katie has written an article about my upcoming entry in the Four Passes event. Small race organisers such as Ascend Events are struggling to attract the numbers of competitors they once did due to the economic climate as well as other factors. It would be a real shame if this event disappeared as the route is one of the best in the Lakes for seeing a cross section of the landscape.

It’s been five years since Liz last entered the Lakeland Four Passes, and she’s decided it’s time to give it another go. It’s a chance to measure up against her younger self. A chance that almost didn’t happen, for two reasons:

1. firstly, for the last 18 months, Liz has been dealing with an old injury. It’s taken two personal trainers and months of hard work to get to a point where she’s able to walk or run long distances

2. secondly, the Four Passes is struggling for sign-ups, even as larger events are turning people away.

Some events, such as the Lakeland 50, are so over-subscribed that only a third of entrants made the ballot. Meanwhile the Four Passes is in danger of disappearing. “It’s a truly elegant route,” Liz says, explaining that she wants to help keep the event alive. “It would be a real shame if it folded.” 

The 19 mile circuit takes in four of the most scenic valleys of the Lake District, racking up 5300ft of ascent over the passes between them. It’s a complete tour of the inner circle of the Lake District, and the smaller scale of the event gives entrants the space to enjoy it. 

The race is organised by Ascend Events, a family-run, grass-roots race organiser, whose focus is on making their events as friendly and supportive as possible. Staffed by volunteers, it has the warmth of a community effort. And most importantly the food is excellent!

Liz last ran it in a deluge of rain and flooding – enough to make anyone nervous. But all worries fell away as she climbed the first hill and felt how strong she was. She recalls the tough ascent up Honister Pass, and the glorious final descent to a good meal at the finish point. “I was euphoric to have completed it faster at 60 than at 55 – and in worse conditions!”

This year she would like better weather please! She isn’t aiming to out-perform herself, but instead to set a baseline for future training, especially as she has big plans for next year. It will be a test of the work she’s done over the last 18 months of weight training, physio and recovery. 

Not so much injury-free as injury-managed, it’s understandable that her main anxiety is hurting herself. But she’s confident that she’s ready to complete the event, if not race it. “A win would be getting to the finish line feeling challenged but not pushed,” though she admits her competitive side may take over on that one.

Liz is also looking forward to running the race with her friend Matt for a second time. It was his first ever event, and in the five years since he’s gone on to set the fastest known time for the Hebridean Way. The Four Passes is an ideal first event, since you can walk or run it in the allotted time. It hits the sweet spot of being achievable while still offering a challenge.

“I’m going for a fun day out,” Liz concludes, and it certainly sounds like it – a beautiful route, supportive staff, good food and better company. “I’d just like people to know about it so it doesn’t fold. It’s so nice, and it was so friendly and good fun.”

Good luck to Liz, Matt, and everyone else who’s entering. And if this sounds like your thing, the event is taking place on the 24th September. Let’s hope that the event is still able to run again next year.

One thought on “The Four Passes – five years on…

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: