The Lakeland 100

23rd - 24th July
104 miles and 24,000 feet

Over the last few months I had regularly made visits to the lakes to recce the route of the Lakeland 100. It is actually 103.5 miles which pretty much encircles the Lake District. Starting and finishing in Coniston it visits numerous passes and all the major valleys on mainly rough bridleway paths. During my recces I had realised that the roughness of the trails was going to be very difficult on the legs and feet, I only whish that I had given this more consideration prior to setting off.

Section 1: Coniston to Seathwaite (6.4miles)

It felt a privilege to have Joss Naylor start the race, the weather was perfect and 123 runners set off for the first climbed loop over Walner Scar. Some set off fast but I decided on the restrained approach. Running and walking as I intended for the full length of the course. I ran on my own all the way over Walner Scar and down onto Seathwaite. When I reached the road a polite young lad asked me if I knew were a farm was, I politely replied no sorry. Strange what happens in these ultras? Anyway I went with my pre prepared idea of being quick in the first 2 CPs. I spent about a minute eating some cake and filling my water bottle.

1 hour 26

Section 2: Seathwaite to Boot (6.7miles)

On the next section around Wallowbarrow woods was the first boggy wet section through trees. My feet got wet here and would continue to get wet all the way around due to the large amounts of standing water. 2 miles before entering Boot I met a guy whom I would chat to over the next 2 hours. It certainly made the time go faster. We arrived in the CP together and I left just before him.

1 hour 38 : 3 hours 04

Section 3: Boot to Wasdale Head (5.4miles)

On the climb up to Burnmoor Tarn he caught up with me and we chatted again as the sun began to set below the Mosedale hills. We made our way at a steady pace over and down the rough decent to Wasdale head CP. An indication of how much water was around, was that the organizers diverted the route slightly here so instead of going around the back of the campsite we went across the bridge and joined the road to CP3 avoiding a fast flowing Lingmell Beck.

1 hour 15 : 4 hours 19

Section 4: Wasdale Head to Buttermere (6.8miles)

This is a tough section going over Black Sail Pass and then Scarth gap pass before dropping into Buttermere. On the way up Black Sail We latched onto 2 other runners and eventually the guy that I was running with was 300 meters behind, it just happened naturally and I was now chatting to 2 new guys Neil and Simon We stayed together apart from when I got carried away descending Black Sail wearing my head torch for the first time. They were great company and it felt like we were all very evenly matched pace wise and going into the Butteremere I started to feel like we would be together for a long way. I knew the route and they were good company. So we all gained.

2 hour 05 : 6 hours 25

Section 5: Buttermere to Braithwaite (8.6miles)

Another tough section we made a pact whilst leaving to stay together during the rest of the night to make the navigation easier, I was fairly confident of the route, but it is always more difficult at night and collectively we were less likely to go wrong. We made good time and ran well on the long edges of Whitelss Pike and Crag Hill. On the decent around Outerside we came to another 3 runners and made a large group. It was fortunate for them as they nearly overshot the left turn for Barrow Door. Never mind we all made it and descended to Braithwaite CP together.

1 hour 45 : 8 hours 10

Section 6: Braithwaite to Blencathra (8.2miles)

I picked up some Marmite sandwiches here and ate some soup. I thought Marmite sandwiches were going to appear elsewhere as they were good, but sadly that was a one off. I set off before Neil and Simon running slowly down the side of the A66 knowing that they would catch me up, they did and after a long road run, we made our way up the track to Latrigg. I explained that this is one of the few points were the course meets the BG route. On the way up Lonscale Valley we were caught by 3 other runners then we caught 2 others and soon we were a large group making our way to CP7 in the beautifully still night.

2 hours 07 : 10 hours 18

Section 7: Blencathra to Dockray (7.7miles)

We left the CP taking care not to go the wrong way but soon we caught a guy that left just before us and he guided us through a tricky section that I wasn’t totally sure of. We then passed him on the long flat cycle path. Here a badger sprinted out of the undergrowth at the side of the track and off away from us he mustn’t have liked the head torches, I think we really spooked him. Finally on the climb up to the Old coach road we could take our head torches off and I vowed not to put it on again (a good finishing time is needed to avoid this). The sun raised a brilliant red over the Yorkshire dales as we ran to CP 8 the rest of the section was uneventful all the way to Dockray.

1 hour 54 : 12 hours 13

Section 8: Dockray to Dalemain (9.8miles)

After a quick stop to eat a banana we were off, still all going at almost the same pace. My blistered feet were now not just something I could feel but something that was giving me significant pain. I started to run as efficiently as possible and tried to avoid slipping on rocks and standing on the pointy ones. We negotiated Gowbarrow o.k. and the woods and farm and after another long road run we arrived at Dalemain.

2 hours 24 : 14 hours 38

Section 9: Dalemain to Howtown (6.8miles)

It was good to see Will and Ian here. But feeling a bit light headed like I was in a dream, and trying to patch up my feet whilst eating and changing clothes I was a bit preoccupied and probably didn’t show my appreciation enough. So thanks, you were a real boost. After 20 minutes of foot repair and food we were underway. My feet were better and we made good time to Howtown were we met Ian and Will again.

2 hour 04 : 16 hours 41

Section 10: Howtown to Mardale Head (8.3miles)

Will encouraged us to get up out of the comfy armchairs that were in the Bobbin mill and leave. I didn’t need much encouragement as I was now feeling awake again. Neil was pleased as he pointed out his count down of CPs had hit double figures, I preferred just to think of the next CP as a rest and press on to the next. We trudged off up to the high point of the round and I made a couple of small navigation errors that meant we had to contour around to pick the track up again. Not too bad though. We were soon over and down the other side to the shore of Haweswater were we all filled out bottles in the water fall. Whilst running strongly along the shores we very quickly caught a runner. He was suffering and had a jacket on even though it wasn’t cold. We were a little worried about him.

2 hours 57 : 19 hours 39

Section 11: Mardale Head to Kentmere (5.9miles)

As we got up to leave the guy in question came in so at least he was safe. I was just about to set off when Simon said he wanted to sit down on a rock for a bit. So I decided to slowly make my way up Gatescarth Pass. Not long after it started to rain and I donned my jacket. Simon and Neil had now been passed by a strong looking runner with sticks who told me they were on their way. My racing head was telling me to go but morals wouldn’t let me, it would have been rude not to have even said goodbye. Anyway we carried on over the pass together in strengthening wind and a heavy shower. When we started descending it was just on off drizzle and this would carry on the rest of the day.

2 hours 05 : 21 hours 44

Section 12: Kentmere to Ambleside (7.1miles)

This CP was beautifully sereal, jazzy trance type music played in an almost empty village hall. It was nice and relaxing, a total oasis of calm. We spent a nice 6 or 7 minutes here before setting off on the long climb to Garburn pass, this was the only part of the route that I hadn’t recced. However we all made it up the rough ascent, my feet were now complaining and I knew the descent was going to trouble them. A guy in front kept appearing then rapidly disappearing I kept thinking that his poles must be really helping him on the climbs. On the rough decent it rained and I rang Mark my waiting friend in Ambledside to buy me some new socks and compedes and warn the waiting physios that I may need to use the Lakes runner shop to patch my feet up. Whilst going up from the post office at low fold the 2 leading 50 milers went steaming past running the steep incline whilst being cheered on by an over exuberant old chap shouting “go on f*****g give it some”. Not long after I had realized that our pace was too easy and asked Neil and Simon if they were o.k. with me pressing on. They said go for it, I did. At high Skelghyll I caught the chap with the sticks and pointed him the correct way. We ran into Ambleside together.

2 hours 14 : 23 hours 59

Section 13: Ambleside to Chapel Stile (4.8miles)

It was good to see my sister and Adrian with their 2 kids and Mark. It felt like a real support group. I ended up with a long stop of about 25 minutes whilst the L100 team assessed and treated my feet. What an amazing thing to do, thanks again to them for that, and for all the CP marshalls and organisers, it was great. I left the CP just before Neil and simon (they had a more usual length stop). I vowed to run hard to the end, forget the feet and go for it. So I did, powering on over Loughrigg and on to Elterwater. On Loughrigg I got the map out for the first and only time as I was unsure of a turn, but the 3rd placed 50 runner put me right whilst telling me how well I was running. At Elterwater I caught up with the stick guy, we chatted for a while but eventually he stopped running and I carried on running almost all the way to CP 14.

1 hour 19 : 25 hours 18

Section 14: Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite (7.7miles)

The stew here gets my vote as the best food of the day. I was almost tempted to break my rule and have more than 1 helping. It started raining as I left and I passed the stick man on the way out. I was running strong and never gave much of a thought as to weather anyone in the 100 would catch me. I didn’t really care although I knew that I was now in 7th place and was very pleased about it. I just ran as well as I could so as to maintain my effort to the end. Whilst running through Great Langdale I was passed again by the 4th an 5th 50 runners who were running together this didn’t phase me although I did check to make sure their numbers background were white (white background = 50, yellow = 100). Again they told me I was running really well, whilst easily passing me. I did think that I must be making a good fist of it even with screamingly sore feet. I made a couple of small errors at Side house and at the campsite before the tough climb over to Blea tarn. Blea Moss I knew to be rough but with very painful feet it was torture, I was glad to get on the road and head for Tilberthwaite. This was agony too but I was nearing the end, on the final bit of road before CP 15 I was caught by the 7th placed 50 runner and vowed to try and stick with his pace, sub 28 hours was still on, just, and I had said to Mark I would see him at the finish at 9.30 PM (I don’t like being late).

1 hour 53 : 27 hours 11

Section 15: Tilberthwaite to Coniston (3.5miles)

A quick stop and I set off at the same time as my “pacer” he pulled out a 300 meter gap by the top of the quarry and I kept working hard and ignoring my feet. I ran along most of Hole Rake and was only 100 meters behind on the decent but I then struggled on the rough ground. My feet were screaming, so I hobbled down as best I could and eventually made it to the cinder path that we had gone up on 28 hours earlier. I ran hard to the line but just missed the 28 hours by 4 minutes.

53 mins : 28 hours 04

I am pleased with how I ran from Ambleside. I managed to run it (including foot treatment) faster than any 100 runner and also ran the last 2 sections from Chapel Stile to Coniston faster than anyone. I have to be pleased with that and the overall run. I feel that with more comfort in my feet I could have done better, but that’s for next time. I ended up 42 minutes ahead of 8th place and 50 minutes behind 6th. 7 th is my best ever placing in any race.