In short: Roughest, toughest race so far! In full: Where do you start on reviewing an event that had it all. This will go down as one of my favourites of all time.
I only (say only) did the fun run, the 50 miler as oppossed to the 100 but it gave me an idea of just what it must take to complete the 100.
We, thats me and Mr Henwood (already reviewed here earlier) got to the campsite later than expected on Friday night and had to put the tents up, get registered and make sure we got some grub down our necks to fuel up before the big start. This was to no avail as we tried and tried again but ended up with 2 pints and a bag of crisps and salted nuts. Not as bad as it sounds as the beer in those parts is absolutely lovely. We then got our heads down nearer to midnight with dreams of getting to the finish line in record time (well that was me anyway, nothing wrong with dreaming).
We had a quick compulsory briefing just before we had to be coached off to the half way point on the course at Dalemain for the start of the 50. The coach journey is one I care not to remember as there was a problem with the heating and we all baked for an hour or so until we reached our drop off point. When we got to the start many 100 milers whom had started at 5.30pm the previous evening had already made it to this point (60 miles into the course) and were lancing blisters and fixing feet etc. We started promptly at noon on the Saturday and made our way around a 4 mile loop of the estate (100 milers didn't have to do this part) which was fantastic and gave us all an easy entry into what was to come. There was one too many stiles for my liking but it broke things up nicely just to get us into the spirit. After this we then set out on our quest to get back to Coniston and the many checkpoints in between. The terrain and course was to become more tough and rugged as we entered the fells, cols and peaks of the beautiful landscape and didn't disappoint. I only ran this in what can only be discribed as normal road running shoes (Asics 2150's). Some would say this was suicidal for the terrain and they'd be right to a degree but my shoes seemed to grip the rocky slippery surfaces that so many have already mentioned much better and for that I didn't do too badly on those surfaces. The other stuff i.e the grass and bogs and everything else was a nightmare and my feet were completey soaked even after the first mile. This didn't stop me as running with water logged trainers wasn't anything new to me. Getting to the first checkpoint was a relief as we were about 11 miles in and the reward was lovely ginger cake and other nice stuff and the feeling that we were well on the way to finishing, bizzare thought process as we still had 38 or so miles to do. Feeling well charged we then carried on to the next checkpoint which was a mere 8 miles further on. This included some substantial climbs and designed to knock the wind out of our sails but we knew we were made of harder stuff and looked forward to making the next checkpoint as we knew soup awaited us and as the weather closed in at this point it was a welcome site when we got there. Whilst at this point and drinking our lovely soup and bread rolls it became more noticable that the weather had deteriated to such a degree that the rain jackets had to make their apprearances and warm us up even though we could see the climb involved straight out of where we were. Looking up the fell was covered in a shroud of mist and driving rain and that was where we were heading. Fueled up again with warm soup we set off knowing we only had about 6 miles to get to our next checkpoint which would be Kentmere. This will go down forever in my memory for the fact that when we finally made it (25 miles in) we were welcomed with, would you like rice pudding or pasta, oh and help yourself to smoothies, and would you like a hot cup of tea or coffee? You don't get this kind of waiter service on your average road marathon or even on most cross country ones and its something you've got to bear witness to to understand. We also met some fine people during this event and some that were unfortunate enough to have to drop out at this point. It was at this point we realised that we were roughtly a marathon distance into the event and for some reason didn't feel as tired as I would've expected. Knowing we still had the same to do made me feel even more determined to finish, and knowing we only had roughly 7 miles to get to the next checkpoint in Ambleside was even more reason to carry on. Even though my feet were soaked through my feet were bearing up well and I only had a few hotspots to note, all was well. We passed many 100 milers during this phase and it was like the film the dawn of the dead (or should I say Shawn of the dead). Some just made it look a breeze and others that we passed looked like death, but all we could say was well done and give them a cheer as we were finding it very tough and we only had half the distance to do. It was also during this section that it got dark and as we approached the lights of Ambleside we entered a different world to what we had just been going through as all the local Saturday night revellers were out in force. This was funny when passing people on the streets asking how far we had come and then seeing them choke on their beers, I'd have been the same. Ambleside saw the checkpoint in the Lakes Runner shop and once again was a welcome sight with warm drinks and sweets and just a great resting up place. I was adament not to sit down at any point during this stop as I was beginning to feel more tired. We then carried on for another 5 miles in the dark and navigating had become much more of an issue at this point to what would be another fine checkpoint with hot beef stew on offer. We hitched up with some other runners at this point as we felt much safer in numbers and deciding on the right direction in the pitch dark was a sight to behold. The ground hadn't eased up at any stage during the night either and we all had to still negotiate the rough and slippery rocks particularly on the decents and this made the hot spots on the base of my feet feel worse. After leaving the last checkpoint we only had just under 8 miles to get to the final checkpoint. This took us just over 3 and a half hours to complete and we thought would never finish. Once at this point we knew we only had 3.5 miles to get back to the finish at Coniston. This last stage took us up a steep climb towards the Old Man of Coniston and what would become the steepest decent of the whole run. For anyone that had nothing left in their kness then this decent would be straw that broke the camels back as abseiling down might have been more appropriate. Crossing the finish line at 5.45am on the Sunday morning felt quite amazing and made me feel a little overcome. I had thought all along of doing the 100 next year and as I was doing so thought no way cause of the effort involved, but once looking back at the finish had immediate thoughts of when the entries open again for next year and maybe just maybe.
I would just like to say that this event has to be one of the most amazing events anyone could undertake (and for some it may lead to the undertakers) but I would recommend it to anyone seeking a challenge that goes beyond the normal marathon. The organisation was simply the best and a big thanks goes out to all the organisers, helpers and people involved stuck out at some of the more remore checkpoints. Thank you. Date of review: July 31, 2010
In short: Excellent race. Brilliant organisation. Lovely helpers. In full: I've amused myself by reading the other comments and am well on the road to recovery. I too did the 50 with my mate Phil.
We had the long drive up north on Friday and arrived too late for food (they shut early in those parts) so pre race supper was limited to two bags of crisps, a pack of salted nuts and two pints of the local bitter.
We camped in the field and were up early to faff around until the 9.30 briefing before being roasted alive on the coack journey to Dalamain where our race began. Arriving with a little time to spare, we spoke to some of the people coming through for the 100 and marvelled at their blisters and resilience.
The start lead directly uphill to a style and a 6 minute wait and then it was on for an undulating 4 mile loop, trying to hold Phil back from 10k pace as we would have a bit still to go from there!
Never got the hang of Garmin so navigated by route book and map (or really just followed anyone that seemed like they knew where they were going). Never got too much off path. Mostly great fellow runners. Excellent checkpoints with unfailingly friendly and helpful marshalls, soup, tea, cake and rice pudding.
At halfway, could have happily stopped and been delighted with a PW over my hardest ever marathon, but left with same again... Now by headtorch!
Bad weather meant glasses steamed up and for a bit only option to run literally blind!
Constant ups and downs and slippery rock compounded by shoe breaking (last time I wear Solomons).
Great fun. Finished 5.45 in the light with a speed walking flourish.
Further night at campsite was great idea before the drive back on the Monday and Sunday night we made sure we knew exactly what time dinner closed! Date of review: July 29, 2010
In short: Hard race but worth the effort In full: This was my first 100 miler, and I just managed to finish 30 minutes inside the 40hr cut off. Ideal for those who like to break up their running with long climbs and walk breaks. Ability to use a map and compass and confidence in mountain terrain required in case you get off track, but mostly just following the detailed roadbook instructions gets you round. Well worth practising as much of the course in advance as possible, will save valuable time at night etc. Feet likely to be trashed by constant wet and rough rocky trails-mine were. A classic. Date of review: July 27, 2010
In short: GREAT In full: I did the 50. Knowing what pain I went through, and am still feeling as I write 2 days after finishing, (I ordered a stairlift when I got home), I can safely say that I have the utmost respect for, and can only question the sanity of, those who did the 100.
This is a brilliant event. The organisation is superb, and the unwavering support and cheerful help of all those involved was greatly appreciated. The general bonhomie of the runners and encouragement from the public, particularly those getting bevvied in Ambleside, made for a great atmosphere.
All in all, a fantastic day and night out. If you want something more than a marathon, give it a go. Date of review: July 26, 2010
In short: Simply the best hilly ultra there is in the world In full: This race is one of the best organised races I have entered. Right from the website with forum and race materials to the checkpoints with food and drink stops the organisation was faultless. The helpers at all the checkpoints were considerate, kind and very supportive.
The course is extraordinary hard, not just because of the distance and the vert but because the tracks and paths for some parts are just rough. Imagine how the cyclists feel going over the pavé in the Hell of the North (Paris-Roubaix) well this race has the running equivalent.
In 2010 the entriats were treated to a motivational talk by the legendary Jos Naylor. Truly a fitting way to obtain the mindset to complete such a challenge.
Finally I must say a public thank you to Terry, Marc, Matt and Lauren and all the army of others who were not in the front line.
If you want to do one stupidly long hilly race in your life, do this one! Date of review: July 26, 2010
In short: the hardest thing I have ever done In full: fantastic race (!).As a complete novice to the ultra scene, I loved it, apart from the last 10 miles that is..feet were trashed. Fabulous atmosphere, brilliant marshals, great organisation, cannot recommend it highly enough. Date of review: July 26, 2010
In short: The art of running slowly! In full: The Lakeland 100 is realy two events: a 100 mile circuit of the Lakes for nutters, and a 50 mile race along half of the course; also for nutters.
Me and my mates did the 50 miler - that was quite enough for us, thank you.
Starting at midday we jogged off round some beautiful countryside 'round the head of Ulswater, a nice 4 mile warm up before the climbing began. By the end of the course we would have ascended about 10,000 feet - a bit less than jogging up Mt. Blanc from Chamonix!
The weather was perfect to begin with, then deteriorated into a classic lakes combo of soaking rain and driving winds - which we were lucky enough to be running right into. The evening was better, with patches of mist to make the navigation more interesting.
You can't just follow the leader on this (unmarked) course - a couple of dozen followed us at one point and wound up in entirely the wrong place. If you can't read a map really well, don't sign up for this.
Then it got dark, and everything became more difficult, and more beautiful. Pitch dark, patches of mist, Langdale Pikes in the distance, picking our way across the bogs under Pike O'Blisco, looking back to see twenty or so bobbing headtorch lights stretching back to Blea Tarn; feeling half dead and totally alive.
They are briliant, the people who organise this, very efficient and safe: and there was great craic with the other nutters on the way round. Everyone I met thoroughly enjoyed it.