The Lakeland 100 (10th Edition) : 28th - 30th July

103 miles
21,000 feet

I felt reasonably well recovered 5 weeks after the 10 Peaks race. So I was confident of doing well this year. Last year I had to quit at Braithwaite. A combination of not feeling too good, and not adjusting my starting pace acordingly, ended in my first DNF of UK turf. My plan this year was to set off extremely conservatively, and only push on in the last 1/4 of the race, maybe after Howtown. The forecast was for cool temperatures and frequent showers. So I chose minimal mandatory kit. But to mitigate this expected poor weather I started in a long sleeve top and Gillet, 3/4 running tights. On my feet were Asics trail shoes to Dalemain then a switch to Hokas and Drymax trail socks.

I started a bit further back than normal so as to reinforce my easy pace. I set off determined to stick to it. Starting to walk as the wide trail becomes single track. Then by the top of Walna Scar road, the first of many showers almost forced me to put my jacket on. But dropping some height towards the first CP at Seathwaite was enough to not need to. Sunshine and showers prevailed and I made a good but very comfortable pace all the way through the night and to Dalemian. The only thing of note was a heard of cows (I really don't like cows) blocking the trail on the way up to Black Sail pass out of Wasdale. The trails were muddy and waterlogged but other than that it was all good. My feet and legs were hurting a bit, but no more than normal.

On the way out of Dalemain.

After a 20 minute stop to change shoes and socks and have some of the lovely stew, I was off refreshed into the cool early morning air. I was maybe 40 minutes slower than my fastest time to Dalemain, But I have never felt so fresh at this point in the race. The next section went well, but on the climb of High cop a very heavy shower forced me to put my jacket on for the first time. My choice of Gillet and long sleeved top had probably saved me putting and taking it off at least 8 times. But the strong wind and heavy rain in the 8 am cool air chilled me, making it feel like the coldest point of the race.

I made good progress on my favourite section down the side of Hawsewater, but from the start of the race, and especially here, the trails were very difficult. Overgrown by fern, lots of large puddles and muddy sections, meant this was the worst condition that I have seen these trails in. Ultimately I think thats what eventually caused me to have painful feet. Blisters and trench foot slowed me down on the descent off Gatesgarth and I struggled to run normally. I still felt that it was an easy pace and that I could probably go quicker but my feet were holding me back.

I struggled to Ambleside CP, I got some water and food and continued to walk whilst eating. But at least the weather had improved. Maybe too much as it was feeling too warm at times. After Ambleside I decided to ignore the pain in my feet and just get on with it. Despite my feet holding me back, it probably just meant that I hadn't slowed down too much, as I was fairly consistently passing people. I wanted to maintain my position so I tried to just run normally.  I was 50th at Eskdale CP2, 21st at Dalemain CP8, and 19th at Lansdale CP12. Going through Ambleside quick meant that I was in 14th and my new found determination meant that I maintained that all the way to Coniston. It always feels great to finish the Lakeland 100. This year it felt especially sweet after last years DNF. It also got me one nearer (4) to the 500 club for 5 completions.

The marshals were brilliant and I really loved this race. I felt that I finished with a bit left, I may try with more vigour for a sub 24 hour next year.

I finished 14th out of 360 in 25.42.48. Michael Jones won in 20.22.19. Lady winner was Sabrina Verjee in 23.15.22.

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