So the lakeland 50 ………
Every year during the last weekend in July over a 1000 of like minded people descend onto the Lakeland town of Coniston for the Lakeland 100/50 weekend.
For those of you into ultra running these races will need no introduction , it offers some of the best and challenging routes that England has to offer.
I have wanted to do the 50 for about three years but it sells out almost instantly (this year it took 9 minutes!! ).
For those of you who don’t know about the event you can read about it HERE.
We arrived at the events centre in coniston around 2pm Friday lunchtime and already plenty of nervous looking runners had pitched up camp and the main field was full,we got directed to the overspill field about 200m away which turned out to be the best move of the weekend (more later).
After setting up camp i wandered over to kit check ,This is something UTLD take VERY seriously. Kit check was in the main marquee and it was HOT !! I was roasting so i can only imagine how hot the tribe of marshalls that had been working all day were!
Kit check in the sweat box aka events marquee
Kit check passed, tracker collected and a quick look at the sales there was only one thing left to do…..have a beer and watch the start of the lakeland 100 which starts at 6pm Fri.
Some friends old and new from the running the world facebook page
After a couple of beers in the sunshine we decided to grab some fish and chips and get an early night so i didn’t get too sun burnt (if only we knew what Sat would bring!).
Friday Night didn’t bring much sleep due partly to nerves and part excitement and around midnight the weather got a little more ‘enthusiastic’ with gales heavy rain and lightning! if you have never stayed in a tent during a rain storm think of a team of hyperactive mice with base drums drumming away outside and you will be halfway there!
By morning it had eased a little so we decided to brave the loos and go and get a coffee in the main marquee. The portaloos, as all portaloos at events were vile but luckily or maybe illegally who knows Deb and I found some lovely toilets in a heated block with hot running water and everything which we then used for the rest of the weekend!! I’m not telling you where they are but im just saying that i’m glad we got put in the other camping field ;).
The 50 is Point to point and before our coach ride to Dalemain we had the usual pre race briefing. Two things stuck out for me, The RD claimed that the weather was looking like the worse they had seen in the history of the race! and also this little gem …..
“Just because all your friends are weird, doesn’t meant that what you are doing is normal”.
After a coach ride of about an hour we arrived at Dalemain.The wind was already picking up and just as i walked past the start area the marquee covering the PA system decided to take off and nearly remove my head! I helped the events team peg it back down and quickly left the scene incase it decided to attack me again!
We had around an hour to kill before the start so after watching some 100 runners hit halfway i met up with teammate Sarah and her friends,spirits were good and i think we all just wanted to go before the rain turned up as every forecast we had seen predicted challenging weather for later in the day!
I won’t bore you with the details of every single mile,one you would fall asleep and two i don’t think i can remember them all!
We start off with a 4 mile loop of the Dalemain estate and on exiting i bumped into my mate Rob who i met at the Chester Ultra 2018 (he is the guy who chased me up the canal to the finish). he looked mighty strong but unfortunately this year wasn’t his.
Soaked to the skin around 8 miles in
Just after CP1 at Howtown you have the biggest climb of the day ‘Fusedale’. Whisper that word to any previous Lakeland runner and watch them shudder ,fusedale strikes fear into all that climb her,I heard rumours even the hardy lakeland sheep walk AROUND it!
This was the point the weather really changed for me,gale force winds ,rain that turned into hail that bloody stung when it hit your face and what felt like the never ending up up and more up!
CP2 was Mardale head,I hate wasting time at CPs so it was a quick refill of my bottles, a jam sandwich and i was off again. Some like to stay at checkpoints for a hot drink some food and a chat but just ten minutes at every CP on lakeland can add an hour to your time! you can always eat and move forward.
The climb out of Mardale was my first real wobble,the entire course is unmarked and i had the route on my watch as back up.Word of warning DO NOT TRY AND LOAD ROUTES MID RECORDING my pricey fenix 5 decided to freeze as i loaded the route and we all know if it aint on strava you haven’t really ran. Luckily for me after a couple of mins it came back on and was still recording but the route hadn’t loaded. The watch very nearly took a sky dive from the top of the hill and into haweswater!
Running into Kentmere was a mix of technical descents and good trail running ,if you have ran the Kentmere horseshoe then the CP is at the registration building for that!
The CP had a beach party theme and was ran by the team from Mountainfuel and they are pros at looking after people,as soon as i entered my bottles were taken and filled and I was asked what food i would like (the pieces of orange were delicious).
The only downside was that on entering i took my jacket off to shove back in my pack,took my shades out the pocket and left them on the table! I realised about half a mile later but there was no way i was going back for them!!
Just after Kentmere i bumped into Andy at troutbeck and we ended up running the final 20 miles in together. Andy had ran the 100 before and fancied a go at the fun run 😉 it was great to bump into someone who was at my pace and more importantly wasn’t as dull as dishwater! Name a big race and Andy had done it and I loved listening to his stories,including my dream race the Transvulcania ultramarathon!
We approached Ambleside and it seemed like the whole town was out cheering for the nutters who were running around the lake district,it was awesome and a real welcome boost!
At the Ambleside CP i grabbed a piece of cake,it was the strongest piece of ginger cake i had ever tasted,now i love ginger cake and any other day i would of sat down with a cuppa but unfortunately i had one bite and it went in the nearest bin!
The run in to the next CP chapel stile had a really long flat section which was great to run on ,if you hadn’t already covered 35 bloody miles! at this point we had joined up with Tim and i was praying one of them would suggest a walking break,i wasnt that bloody lucky!
The chapel stile CP had been mentioned more than once in the run up to the event on the lakeland facebook page ,one item in particular De La Napsacks brownies! and oh my they did not disappoint,it was absolutely beautiful and just what i needed at that stage in the race,Thankyou!
After chapel stile we realised we had 2.5 hours left to complete our sub 10 goal,those that read my post last week will note i wanted sub 9 but the weather soon sorted that idea out!
We left Chapel stile feeling pretty confident and then the weather changed for the worse again,rain like i had never seen battered us for what felt like an age ,in reality i think it was about ten mins. We hit the unmanned CP and dibbed in (we got warned not to miss this as a couple of 100 runners had been disqualified for missing similar ones overnight on the 100).
Hitting the last CP at Tiberthwaite marked 5k to go and to be honest i was ready for the finish now i was wet,tired and my knees had began to ache,good job the last two miles wasn’t downhill eh! I know Andy held back a little for me on the last descent as i was flagging over the technical terrain ,Tim had already pushed on at this point.
Coming into the finish i spotted my wife and nearly burst into tears on the spot,it’s strange the effect running all day has on you!
Andy and I both dibbed and ended up well under our goal of 10 hours,arriving back in Coniston in 9h33
The finish at the lakeland is a thing of wonder,you are walked into the main marquee and announced like you are a bloody rockstar! everyone stops and claps whether you are the first back or the last,i’ve never seen anything like it!
My wife had one job to do at the finish and while i had a photo and got my medal she ran and bought me an ice cold pint. I sat down and had a full on meltdown,tears rolling freely down my face,i was never running again,burning my kit etc etc i must of looked a right plonker! That beer taste bloody good though 🙂
After a bite to eat and putting my dummy back in we wandered down to the pub to watch a few more runners come in and of course test that the whisky was ok, i’m pleased to report it was although after a couple i was ready for bed.
Sleep didn’t come,my hips and knees were giving me a bit of trouble and i just couldn’t settle so instead i spent most of the night dot watching the competitors on the tracking website.
Eventually around 4am i wandered back to the marquee which was still in full party mode,beers being drunk tears being shed and hugs all round,i couldn’t have any beer as i was soon to be driving home so i settled for some chips and a coffee ,hows that for a healthy breakfast!! (i had burnt 5700 cals in the race).
I promised my teammate Sarah that my face would be the first thing she spotted when she hit the finish and just as she was due to finish we popped back outside to cheer her in,i don’t mind saying there was a couple of teary hugs (why does everyone bloody cry at ultras?) Sarah is amazing, 19 hours and running through the night in that weather is just something i don’t think many would have the mental power to accomplish!
After a few pics for the club newsletter Debs and I had the task of driving home,stopping at every services just for more coffee. Arriving home i was in bed asleep in less than 60 seconds and one week later i still feel tired!
So as for burning my gear and never running again…………………………?
My hotel is already booked for the last weekend in July next year!
Although i may cut out the coach journey and run the full circle 😉