This weekend saw the annual Montane Lakeland 100/50 Ultra Tour of the Lake District meander it’s way around the Cumbrian fells once more. The 100 mile route starts and finishes in Coniston and loops around Wasdale, Buttermere, Skiddaw, Dockray, Longsleddale, Ambleside and Langdale amongst others. It surely is one of the most scenic races in the country. The difference for us this year was that we had some staff competing in Ultra Half Marathon, the Lakeland 50 (still a remarkable feat, I’m sure you’ll agree).
Below is an account from Nick, our Deputy Manager:
“…From the Friday night registration and kit checks to the briefing on Saturday morning there was a real air of anticipation amongst all of the competitors. The long bus ride from Coniston to Dalemain house, near Ullswater, provided time for some last minute food and drink. I was pleased to note that I felt very relaxed, as this was my first event of this distance, and a complete unknown.
The race began at midday with a four mile loop through the grounds of the Dalemain Estate, which allowed the field to thin out a bit before we came through Pooley Bridge. Even here there was some good support from holiday makers and locals in the village, encouraging even with over 40 miles to go.
Howtown checkpoint came and went (good cake!), and then as the rain began, so did the long climb up and over Wether Hill, before descending to Haweswater reservoir. The trail alongside the lake made for lovely running all the way to Mardale Head for the next checkpoint. Up to this point, I had been going quite slowly but on the stiff climb up Gatesgarth Pass I picked my speed up and began to start catching people. The rain was steady all the way along Longsleddale but soon came the Montane run checkpoint at Kentmere which had a really good atmosphere, plenty of food and even fruit smoothies! I decided not to linger at the checkpoints from here on in, just a quick drink and keep moving.
The Garburn pass (left) marked a rough 30 mile mark, the furthest I had ever run in training, and so the next 20 miles would be a step into the unknown. After a hard descent on the legs, I came through Troutbeck and into the Lakes Runner checkpoint. Again the positive buzz continued, with some fantastic support from people all through Ambleside, spurring you on. Tempting as it was to call in at my house here, I shuffled my way into the darkness of the approaching night while the route took me towards Langdale along some easier tracks of the Cumbria Way. A quick visit to Langdale School checkpoint was followed by a steady climb up the side of the Langdale valley to Blea Tarn. A little local knowledge and experience of the route really started to pay off from here on in, with some less confident navigators tagging along in the dark. As I descended from Blea Tarn towards Little Langdale the running was quite tricky in the wet and dark but I soon hit good ground on the rise over to Tilberthwaite Quarry where I arrived at the last checkpoint.
The final climb out of Tilberthwaite was hard (although the stone steps were a welcome relief at mile 47!), as was the steep ascent in the fog and rain gloom. It was however, inevitably followed by the very slow descent to Coppermines Valley and the home straight to Coniston School for the finish. After 14 hours and 2 minutes of shuffling and trotting around a soggy Lake District, I felt relieved, elated and very proud of what I had just achieved. There was a great welcome for all finishers from the organisers and the other competitors, a welcome massage for tired legs from the guys from St Helens (thanks!) and some well earned hot food.
After my first Ultramarathon, I can honestly say that the Lakeland 50/100 is a great event, and the organisers, sponsors, volunteers and support were all fantastic from beginning to end…”
Nick is already planning next years race followed by a possible entry to the CCC out at Mont Blanc!
The Lakeland 100 was won by Stuart Mills in a staggering time of 24 hours and 10 minutes. Out of the original 123 competitors, just 70 finished the course. The ‘50 was won by Andrew James in an even more impressive 7 hours and 46 minutes.
Bryan came in in 11 hours and 48 minutes, 12 minutes faster than his target time of 12 hours and unfortunately Shaun had to retire from the event, but congratulations goes to Nick, Bryan and Shaun for their impressive achievement.
(Postscript: Congratulations also goes to Kate Simpson who completed the Bob Graham this weekend in 23 hours 11 minutes. Well done Kate)