This was my second 100-mile race and my first Lakeland 100. I set myself a goal of sub 24 hours, but that was only because I ran the 2016 Hardmoors 110 in under 24 hours so it seemed like a good target. Failing sub 24 I wanted to be done for last orders!
First off, I’m not supported by any company. If I use a product it’s because It works for me and I have parted with my own cash.
I knew 100 miles in the Lakes would be tough so I set out on a challenging training schedule. Training went perfect! I was faster, leaner, illness and injury free so I really had nothing to moan about. As I travelled over to the lakes I knew I was in great shape.
I’ve tried load of sports nutrition. I’m lucky as gels work for me so I had them on me and in my drop bag. I drank mountain fuel, water and flat coke during the race. When I fancied something solid then it was chia charge flap jack and yogurt covered raisins. Sometimes people get food fatigue, but luckily, I was okay with these for the whole race. I did have food from the checkpoints to top up the nutrition I carried.
The drive over from County Durham was painfully slow and I wished I’d booked an extra night in the hotel and stayed in bed all day Friday. My wife and children put up with a lot because of my running so a day with me putting my feet up seemed like I would be pushing my luck. Anyway, we crawled over to the Lakes… It turns out we got there with loads of time to spare and the whole Lakeland family guided us pain free into the parking field and then to registration.
I got myself registered, said hello and chatted to loads of running friends, went to the loo about 50 times and then headed for the start line. It didn’t take long before we got underway.
Coniston to Seathwaite
The start was great! The streets of Coniston were full of cheering supporters. It was such a great feeling. In all the commotion I missed Lisa, Esme and George! I wouldn’t see them again until Ambleside. The climb out of Coniston was fine and the heart rate said the effort was fine too so I kept going. It started to rain which was annoying and I took too long to put my jacket on. I hoped it would pass, but the rain kept coming… Running felt easy though and before I knew it I came to the first check point. I’m pretty sure most of us didn’t hang around here so I grabbed some lovely ginger cake, shoved it on my gob and left for Boot.
Seathwaite to Boot
Running still felt easy, but I found I slipped and fell a lot during this section. I don’t run with poles, but they would have been great. Nutrition was fine. I set my watch to beep every 25 minutes. This just give me a reminder to eat. The rest I make up with mountain fuel and coke + the check point food. Boot approached quickly. I didn’t hang around at the check point. I topped up my drink and had some solid food and set off to Wasdale head.
Boot to Wasdale Head
So far I’d enjoyed the whole run. I was a bit battered from falling over loads and I’d given up trying to keep my feet dry, but I felt fresh and my spirits were high! No real dramas on this section. I kept things steady and looked forward to seeing the Sunderland Strollers at the next check point. Again, quickly in and out of the check point. It’s very easy to waste time if you hang about for just a few minutes. When possible I got going ASAP.
Wasdale Head to Buttermere
I’d been looking forward to and dreading this section. I’d ran this section and knew the ups and downs + it is now dark! Being positive though once it’s done it’s done and everyone has to do it so stop worrying. If I’m honest it wasn’t that bad. Very slow going, but I was fine with that as it kept my heart rate very low. Once you hit Buttermere you had a pretty fast and flat few miles before you got to the checkpoint. Last time I came to Buttermere it was blazing sunshine and full of people drinking beer and ice cream! Not tonight...
Buttermere to Braithwaite
Another good section for me. I kept checking my heart rate and the effort was well within what I wanted it to be. I continued to slip and slide when the ground was soft, but that was just the way it was going to be. Going down to Braithwaite was great and the lights of Keswick a welcome break from all the dark. Another superb checkpoint full of great people giving up their time! I topped up my drinks and grabbed some food and off I went. I was surprised to pass another runner at this point. He said he was determined to get the legendary chocolate cake at Blencathra and he might pull out then. I hope he got there.
Braithwaite to Blencathra
Probably my favourite section of the whole race. It was a nice temperature, I felt comfortable and I was doing really well in the race. I knew this section quite well, but I still struggle to find the path off the A66. GPS watches are great, but they do struggle with fine subtle changes in direction. I got to the checkpoint feeling great. I loved Blencathra. Everyone was really funny, but I forgot to try the Choc cake!!!
Blencathra to Dockray
Had a few navigation issues during this section. Nothing really bad, but it just slowed me down a bit. Sometimes it can be a good thing to get an unplanned rest while you get your bearings. It’s very easy to keep running in the wrong direction, but stopping and sorting yourself out is probably better in the long run.
Dockray to Dalemain
The sun started to come up, which was a real boost! I moved along nicely apart from a badger charging me just as I entered Aira Force!! The guys at Dalemain checkpoint did a great job in making sure I got my drop bag and filling me up again. I tried some veggie stew, but I immediately felt like throwing up so I politely declined the rest and hit some more sugary treats as they went down and stayed down.
Dalemain to Howtown
I was really looking forward to Howtown as I manned that checkpoint last year and knew quite a few people this year so off I set across the fields and got my feet wet all over again… I felt great and moved well over this section and got to the checkpoint without any bother. Lisa offered me a pork pie which I accepted, but knew it was a gamble and Jane gave me a bag of nuts for me to carry. I wish I’d hung around longer, but I just wanted to keep moving and get the next section out of the way as quick as possible… I waved goodbye to Tim, Lisa, Jane, Anne, Jerry and the rest of the crew and with a pork pie in my hand headed for Mardale Head.
Howtown to Mardale Head
The pork pie not only tasted great it stayed down! Thanks Lisa. I don’t know if this was checkpoint food or she’d let go of some of her food. Either way I really appreciated it and it was a welcome break for my taste buds. For the first-time I started to struggle. I’m not sure what caused it, but my quads felt painful. Going up was hard because going up is hard, flat was now painful, but only 6 out of 10, but going down was horrible. I could feel my whole body tensing up every time I had to go down anything. This was really frustrating as it resulted in every mile being excruciatingly slow and I soon knew my sub 24 goal was out of the window. It’s a funny feeling being so far from the finish and knowing that your goal was impossible. You could sack it off and come back next year or you can shut out the negative thoughts and keep moving forward. I chose option two. I didn’t feel great, I had ages to go and my finish time would not be what I wanted I never thought for a second that I’d call it a day. I just moaned to myself and the wildlife and moved as quick as my quads would let me.
Mardale head to Kentmere
I now knew every mile would be slow and shitty with the only bits I could look forward to were when the pain was only 7 out of 10. I knew Kirk and Emma Hardwick would be at the next checkpoint so I had that to look forward to. Climbing over the walls as you came into Kentmere was really rough, but being greeted by Kirk and Emma’s children was brilliant. They took my food order too which was such a great idea! It was a quiet time at the check point and Kirk offered to walk with me a while and carry my empty bowl back. That was such a kind thing to do. Off I went to Ambleside.
Kentmere to Ambleside
This should be one of the easier sections of the run, but the ever-increasing quad pain stopped any chance I had of picking the pace up. I was nice to bump into Garry Scott again. He’s such an upbeat person which was a welcome distraction from my discomfort. Coming into Ambleside was one of the best parts of the run. It’s always busy, but it seemed to have a special buzz and the cheers from the crowds made me quite emotional. I knew Lisa and the kids would be at Ambleside so I kept an eye out for them. I bumped into them near the checkpoint which was great! I managed to hold myself together and not break down in front of everyone. I had my doubts about my children seeming me during the run just in case I was a mess. Apart from my quads I was doing well so no trauma for them. I kissed everyone good bye and shuffled off to Chapel Stile.
Ambleside to Chapel Stile
I’d really looked forward to this section. I knew it was fast and flat. In the scheme of the last few hours it probably was fast, but a lot slower than planned. Generally, the flatter section gave my quads a break. Another faultless checkpoint full of great people checking if I was okay, filling up all my bottles and offering me encouragement before I set off for Tilberthwaite.
Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite
By now I was going so slow two runners caught and passed me. Normally I’m going past runners at this point in the race so it did piss me off a bit, but I just could not cope with much more pain so I just had to suck it up and keep going the best I could. My heart rate at this point was really low. Also, my energy levels felt fine. More wet feet and bogs on the way to the self-check point. It turns out there was a marshal there. I later heard they guy was there for ages! Another Lakeland legend.
Tilberthwaite to Coniston
This was the only section of the course I did not recce. When they said just up the steps I couldn’t believe it! Slowly I made my way up, cursing every step. It’s always the same when you come to the end of a race. The miles seem to take even longer than normal. Luckily, I didn’t have anyone in sight behind me as I really did not fancy a race to keep my current position. Eventually I came to the quarry and I could see Coniston in the distance. It was further away than I hoped, but I knew I was nearly finished. The run through Coniston to the finish was up there as one of my best running memories ever. My legs had been totally smashed and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, but it all eased away as I ran to the finish. As I crossed the line I dibbed for the last time and my son nearly knocked me off my feet with the best tackle/hug ever. I finished in 25hours and 15 minutes and in 13th place. Overall a little disappointed with the last third being such a slog, but glad I kept going and to come 13th. 13th in a race like the Lakeland 100 is something I never thought possible a few years ago.
Massive thank you to everyone involved with the event. For me it was perfect. I always said this would be my last 100 miler, but I had such a great time I could be tempted again.
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