At the start of the Lakeland 100 Coniston, the day before the Lakeland 50,i did the 50 this year improving my time by over 3 hours to 11 hrs 14 mins. I was more than happy with this improvement as it wasnt expected. Im hoping to build on this for next years events.
The 100ers about to set off, Stuart Mills deep in positive thoughts no doubt. His blog is a full of useful information and many race reports find it at ultrastu.blogspot.co.uk
There is a start loop around the Dalemain Estate of 6.3km (4.1miles).
Distance between checkpoints: 11.5km (7.1miles). Ascent: 294m (965ft) Descent: 285m (935ft)
After the bus ride from Coniston to the Dalemain estate we had 20-30 mins to kill before heading off, we stood around chatting, checked kit and went for numerous trips to the bushes and portaloos. I felt good, knowing id have no problem finishing but wanted to better last years time of 14 hrs 23. I knew i would but by how much i wasnt sure. I had trained throughout the year, ran a marathon and two ultras, so i knew i was fitter than last year. But with next to no time spent in the lakes or on the hills near where i live on longer runs due to our new arrival Tommy, i wasnt sure how my legs would cope with the climbs and descents. I would soon find out.
Otto, dog half of the ultra duo Jonathan Fletcher and Otto, who are also doing the Lakeland 100 next year in aid of the Parachute Regiment charity.
I was in and out of the checkpoint as quick as possible to not waste time standing around, you can easily add an hour + onto your time throughout the event without realising.
Bobbin Mill (GR 443196)
Distance covered so far - including the Dalemain loop - 17.8km (11.2miles)
Howtown – Mardale Head (Leg: 2:11.40)
Distance between checkpoints: 15.2km (9.4miles) Ascent: 765m (2510ft) Descent: 672m (2205ft)Up Fusedale Beck the terrain gets rougher as you get to near the top of Wether Hill. From High cop to Low Cop you get an idea of the rocky terrain you will face for the rest of the race. Onwards down to Haweswater, this is a great section, the descent down the fell and then through the bracken is fast and good fun, with the views across Haweswater towards the next checkpoint at Mardale Head, again this year i managed to fill my water bottle with the crisp freezing Lakeland water as it crashed over the rocks and down the stream next to the trail we descend. It always seems to tastes better fresh from a stream.
Mardale head – Kentmere (Leg: 1:46.07)
Distance between checkpoints: 10.4km (6.5miles) Ascent: 511m (1677ft) Descent: 589m (1932ft)
The climb up Gatesgarth pass is definately takes it out of your legs and after the climb you are greeted by a the rocky descent down to Sadgill wood and over the wall towards Kentmere hall. I was fed and watered at this checkpoint, filled up bottles and was on my way. All checkpoints are manned by fiendly and helpful volunteers and this definately gives you a positive mental boost. I made a point last year of not sitting down at any checkpoint, i managed it and followed in the same vain this year. Not sure why, just wanted to save the sitting down until the end.
Kentmere Institute which is CHECKPOINT 11 (GR456041)
Distance covered so far: 43.4km (27.1miles)
Kentmere – Ambleside (Leg: 1:46.28)
Distance between checkpoints: 11.8km (7.3miles) Ascent: 491m (1611ft) Descent: 602m (1975ft)
The next section includes a climb up and over Garburn pass towards Troutbeck. By now we are passing more of the 100ers, as always passing on encouragement and being replied to everytime aswell normally by a grunt or two. I hope i receive the same next year, the encouragement not the grunts!. As we leave the woods and we near Ambleside the tracks start to become a bit easier underfoot and sure enough the roads of Ambleside take us all the way to the next checkpoint at the Lakesrunner shop. There are quite a few people out along the route cheering us on, this is always great to see and again gives you a positive boost. The rucksack pouch was filled with jelly beans/babies, cups of coke were downed, flapjacks stuffed in rucksacks and pockets, and water bottles filled including electrolyte.
Runner Shop on R which is CHECKPOINT 12 (GR 377045)
Distance covered so far: 55.2km (34.4miles)
Ambleside – Chapel Stile (Leg: 1:11.14)
Distance between checkpoints: 8.1km (5miles) Ascent: 234m (768ft) Descent: 213m (699ft)
Leaving Ambleside it was still light, meaning i was moving quicker than last year, by now i was running with a south african guy called Jan, he had been telling me about the ultras he took part in back home in Johannesburg. He and his wife had come over for two weeks to run in the L50 and to watch the Olympics, hope the rest of his time in the UK was enjoyable.
This year i had discovered Hoka Mafates, i had used the Hoka One One Bondi B for the Marathon and Calderdale Hike earlier in the year, and was impressed. The Bondi B are geared more for the road and really good dry trails, so wouldnt be that good for large sections of the 50. So a pair of Mafate 2 were purchased a few weeks before the event leaving not much time to break them in but to be honest they didnt need it. These are a revelation. Now i love running downhill, with these its even better, the extra cushioning and oversized treads allow you to run faster, bounding over rocks with an oversized grin on your face. They may look odd but honestly give them a try and you wont be disappointed.
The route now includes some nice flat stretches past Elterwater and onto Langdale and Jan and i pick the pace up to make up time. He said at this stage we were on for a sub 11 hour time, i was amazed and continued in the same vain hoping i could achieve this time. We pushed each other on through the next few miles with darkness closing in.
CHECKPOINT 13 (Marquee in field on R) (GR 313057)
Distance covered so far: 63.3km (39.4miles)
Chapel Stile– Wrynose (Leg: 1:07.34)
Distance between checkpoints: 5.7km (3.5m) Ascent: 283m (928ft) Descent: 385m (1263ft)
This section is wet, muddy, with the rocky trails becoming tricky in the dark. I remembered to keep to the higher section away from the sodden lower section. The track disappears in the bracken at Blea Moss, and if you keep to the higher section it is slightly easier.
I struggled prior to this section with the last climb up from Langdale but having done this section on two recces and last years event i knew we were closing in on the final push.
We headed to the unmanned checkpoint on the wall/fence dibbed in and set off down the tarmac road towards Tilberthwaite.
Wrynose – Tilberthwaite (Leg: 0:34.17)
We headed down the Wrynose Path before heading over the penultimate climb towards Tilberthwaite. The finish is less than 6 miles from here, Jan was ahead of me now so i pushed on my own.
The tent on the car park is CHECKPOINT 14
Distance covered so far: 74.8km (46.5miles)
Tilberthwaite – Coniston (Leg: 1:11.51)
Distance between checkpoints: 5.7km (3.5m) Ascent: 283m (928ft) Descent: 385m (1263ft)
The view of Tilberthaite valley has definately stuck in my mind. Dusk was on us and the end of this endeavour was close, you can see across the valley and could make out a line of runners only identifiable by the flickering headtorches. This line of lights marking out the final climb and final section of effort before the finish in Coniston.
I filled water bottles, took on the last of my electrolyte and rammed whatever food they had on offer down my neck ready for the last push and headed off. I was again wavering on this climb as the quad cramps had returned that suddenly appeared during the last climb. I stretched to keep them at bay and kept going. Once at the top i was relieved that it was all downhill (albeit a tricky rocky descent) down the miners path back into Coniston. After that though it was a relatively easy surface all the way to the finish.
I found the reserves i needed, recuperating fast after the last climb and picked up the pace downhill passing those who had overtaken me on the final climb. I tore into Coniston finishing at a sprint (sort of?!), like i always seem to do. I was greeted as everyone is by a clap and was given my finishers medal and directed towards a table of multi coloured finishers T shirt. It was good to be given a choice, but with the state my mind was in it took me longer than everyone else to pick a colour, i went for orange!!
I finished in 11 hours 14 over three hours quicker than last year, really pleased with the improvement from last years (14 hours 23 mins).
John Ruskin School
Distance covered 80.5km (50miles)
At the end, it was time for some food and a beer or two, kindly offered by Jan his wife and friends who were sat in the school hall. Sleep followed when i finally came back down to earth from the high of finishing such a great event.
Next year its the 100............