So last Saturday was 'Lakes in a Day' day and, having signed up for the inaugural running of this ultra distance event absolutely yonks ago, me, Hester and Gavin were kind of concerned immediately before the kick off, stood outside the Oddfellows Arms in Caldbeck, as to exactly how we'd get on - it felt (to me anyway) like the event had snuck up on us and that we hadn't given it nearly enough attention beforehand, leaving all our race research and gear getting togethering to the very last minute. Benjamin Franklin's line "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail" seemed ominously appropriate at that point in time.
That said the '48 mile' route (which actually turned out to be 51.2 miles the way we ran it) with 4,000 meters of ascent looked absolutely stunning in the fly by on the Lakes in a Day web page, with the race starting in Caldbeck at the very top of the Lake District and finishing in Cartmell at the very bottom, and completely splitting lakeland right down the middle in the process.
More to the point the route of the race didn't look like it took any prisoners or easy lines either, what with the first 11 miles hacking over High Pike and Blencathra and down the steep Hall's Fell ridge to Threlkeld for the first food station, the next 19 miles then going straight up Clough Head and fully along the Hellvellyn ridge line (going over the peaks of Great Dodd*, Raise, White Side, Helvellyn Little Man and Helvellyn in the process) to Grisedale Tarn before climbing up Fairfield and dropping down the eastward ridge of the Fairfield Horseshoe to Ambleside for the second food stop, <takes deep breath> with then just the small matter of a further 21 miles of slick, rocky and tree-rooty forest trails from there all the way down the length of Windermere and beyond to Cartmell. Just to add salt to the wound the last 14 miles of this final section for us was done in the dark.
* The actual route didn't require us to go over the top of Great Dodd but we did go over the top on the day, never-the-less.
The other fantastic thing about this race was that, in addition to all the runners carrying dibbers to ping at each food stop to confirm they'd been through, we were all carrying gps trackers too that could be followed on-line and, even better, projected on big screens at each food station and at the finish. Given that the navigation of the race was pretty tough too, especially in the woods after dark, it was great entertainment to look at the master screen and see just where all the runners were and where they were going. Most to be fair were bang on the line but some poor souls seemed scattered all over the shop. I can see the carrying of gps trackers really taking off with lots of races now, particularly the ultra distance events. I don't know how long this link will be open for but at the minute you can view the tracks of all runners here (I'm runner 202).
Anyway the race was brilliantly brilliant as it turns out. Tough as nails but brilliant. Hester, Gavin and I all ran together and we all had a good laugh on the way round too. Hester had a 'few' issues on the tricky descent down Hall's Fell but, other than that, we like to think we all did very well and finished relatively comfortably in 15 hours and 50 minutes. Putting that time in perspective, that put us just in the top half of the 150-ish race finishers and in the top third of the field, if you take into account that approximately 225 runners started. The winning time was 10 hours 37 minutes which nicely demonstrates just how tough the race route was - the winning time this year's The Lakeland 50, run in July, was by way of contrast 7 hours 48 minutes, almost 3 hours quicker! I'd say that the Lakeland 50, which Hester has run twice (her best time being 11:42), is a tough 50 mile trail race whilst Lakes in a Day is a tough 30 mile fell race immediately followed by a tough 20 mile trail race. A full on beast of an ultra race then.
The Lakes in a Day photo story can be found here (look out for me, number 202, in one of the pictures) and, if you want to sign up for next year's race set for 10th October 2015, be quick as entries open on 20th October. Me and Hester are already deffos for next year and I'm sure Gav will be too
|Its neck and neck for the three amigos......... with 50 miles to go|
|Hester being annoyingly perky after just half a mile|
|The trudge up the first hill, High Pike, with Caldbeck fast disappearing behind|
|The sun now starting to burst through after a rain shower|
|Hester crossing the "bridge" over the Caldew|
|Gav and Hester "peaking" on Blencathra|
|Descending Hall's Fell|
|Hester and Gavin having survived 'the dodgy bit' on Hall's Fell|
|Starting the 'brilliant' climb up Clough Head with Blencathra hidden in the clouds behind|
|Thirlmere appearing below|
|Cracking views Gromit|
|Hester at the top of Raise|
|The rest of the team running the Helvellyn ridge|
|Billy no mates|
|Thirlmere still below|
|Hes on the top of Helvellyn Little Man now|
|Cloudy with a chance of meatballs|
|The team slogging up Fairfield|
|Gavin turning the corner of the Fairfield Horseshoe - its all downhill from here|
|Looking towards the opposite ridge of the horseshoe|
|I'm winning the team at this point|
|Looking back towards Ambleside and the Fairfield Horseshoe (middle of the horizon) as the sun goes down|
|Stolly and Hester finishing in Cartmel|
|Gav dibbing while I pull a 'I've been flipping running for 15 hrs and 50 minutes' face|