Montane Lakeland 50 – 2013

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OK, I’m going to be vain and quote myself from mile 30 something after we had passed a few weary looking 100mile competitors: “There is no F###ING way I am ever doing the 100. Mike- remind me of this conversation the next time I get cocky and suggest we do the 100!”

Well, 14 days later and I’m still standing by that opinion. Well, almost! I definitely want to do the Lakeland100 at some point, but not 2014. Next year (assuming the calendar works out) will be a chance to go back and do the L50 in a good time. We were thrilled to be sub-15 for our first ever Ultra-Marathon, especially the Lakeland 50…one in which we baked for 7 hours at 26 Degress, steamed in the damp for 2 hours, then were soaked in a huge rain storm for the next 6!

One of many long climbs!

So how was it? Amazing! I could write an entire diary on this one race alone, I will resist, and simply give a sentence or two about each leg… probably under sells how hard/long it was, but never mind.

Leg 1: Dalemain to Howtown. 11.2 Miles. 2hrs 9mins 29sec. Nice relaxed jog around the estate, charged at by some bullocks, lots of support at Pooley bridge and the first big climb, followed a bunch of runners from Sunderland, re-moved badly taped tape from foot. Lesson 1: Tape it correctly or it’ll be worse than no tape!

Leg 2: Howtown to Mardale Head: 9.4 miles. 2hrs 51mins 28 sec (Total: 20.6 miles, 05:00:57). Second proper climb, weather still hot (mid-high 20s), lucky we are following a large crowd as the track becomes very feint (and easy to lose in bad weather), descending through bracken to edge of Hawewater was stunning (and quite technical), amazing trails skirting around the water’s edge to CP.Top up bottled from stream – fresh! Lots of people dropping out at CP10 from 50 and 100 mile races! Lesson 2: Enjoy the good times!

Beautiful, technical trail around Haweswater to Mardale Head

Beautiful, technical trail around Haweswater to Mardale Head check point (CP10)

Leg 3: Mardale Head to Kentmere 6.5 miles. 2hrs 17mins 52 secs (Total 27.1miles, 07:18:49). After a much needed break and some flat coke we start another huge climb. Starts OK, then I hit a mental block unlike anything I’ve had before: legs fine, lungs fine, heart rate fine, sugar/energy fine… just can’t get motivated. Mike forces me to eat an energy chew. We speak to Lucy & Sam and find out we are top half. Renewed motivation for the last 2-3 miles. Lesson 3: Your motivation will (eventually) come back….if you run far enough, speak to the other half, or spark your competitive side. It’ll be option 1 and 3 in the desert!

Leg 4: Kentmere to Ambleside 7.3 miles, 2hs 11mins 38secs (Total: 34.4 miles, 09:30:27). Great smoothie at CP11, some rain and the temp has dropped – a great leg where managed to get a good run going. Arrived in Ambleside to high 5s from Mike’s kids! Resisted stealing their fish and chips… instead flat coke, flapjack and jam sandwich! Mike tapes blister (or did that happen already- it’s a bit of blur from here to the finish!). Lesson 4: Flat coke is liquid gold for ultras!

Leg 5: Amble side to Chapel Stile 5.6 miles, 1hr 32mins 21secs (Total: 40.0 miles, 11:02:38). Getting dark, but I resist putting head torch on – Mike’s is enough (just!). Probably should have put on at CP12. Another great section, some nice flat trails! Could have run much faster if it was day time- maybe next year!??! Follow to middle aged (??sorry??) ladies setting a nice pace. Heavy rain turns torrential as we arrive at CP13 – the best CP ever. Sofas, fairy lights, fire to light the path and an extra large coffee with 4 sugars and a digestive! Lesson 5: Put coat on as soon as it rains and use all the zips!

Welcoming fire fairy lights in the distance

Welcoming fire fairy lights in the distance

Leg 6: Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite 6.5 miles, 2hrs 21mins 27secs (Total: 46.5 miles, 13:24:15). A Long, wet, slow slog to the next check point. We seem to be passing people that passed us 30mins ago, then they re-pass us. One guy is also on his first ultra (randomly camping next to us) and the two ladies (268 and ???) who we seem to meet at most check points. The ladies pull out some good pace and we don’t see them until the finish. We group up with our neighbour and his friends (acquired on route) until the next CP. Lesson 6: Ultra-runners are friendly. Even the fast ones.

Leg 7: Tilberthwaite to Coniston 3.5 miles, 1hr 25mins 49secs, (Total: 50miles 14:50:04). The slowest, most technical 3 miles I have ever run! To prove the point mountain rescue / air ambulance had to help one runner! I just hope he didn’t slip down the 20 foot, rocky drop in the torrential rain… the path is now a steady stream flowing over our feet. We pick our way through 2.5 miles of slippery, rocky, madness…finally reaching tramac and finish with a 0.5 mile “sprint” at 8min miles. The legs still work! Lesson 7: Don’t underestimate the last “little bit”!

Cold, wet and very very happy!

Cold, wet and very very happy!

Finish: 50 miles, 14hrs 50mins 4secs (approx. 10,000 ft ascent). Amazing applause as we arrive into the hall. Feels like almost all of the 200 odd people ahead of us are there to cheer us in! We finished in the top half- awesome! Legs and cardio feel fine… but I’m freezing cold and in need of some sleep. If the race started earlier in the day I could run some more, but the conditions have the better of me. Time for a warm bowl of pasta, some dry clothes and a little sleep (in the car!). Lesson 8: Take a tent that doesn’t leak and sleep for more than 3 hrs!

In short, we loved every minute of it and are already figuring out how to shave time off the next attempt! I’d love to complete it in 12hr30min and be home by midnight. That might be too ambitious. However, it will be post MDS, Mike may have completed a normal marathon (this is currently his only official race) and we’ll have a few other ultras under our belt. In fact, maybe we’ll do the 100….. 😉