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Race report: The Montane Lakeland 100 - Ultra Tour Lake District (UTLD)

by Britta Sendlhofer
Wednesday 28th July 2010
 
 

The facts: 103 miles (if you can avoid getting lost at any time) and 23,000' foot of ascent and decent. A 40 hour time limit. 123 courageous competitors.

The route: Whilst avoiding the high summits, the route visits many of the most picturesque valleys and dales that radiate out from the high central fells like the spokes of a wheel. The route starts at Coniston and visits the Duddon Valley, Eskdale, Wasdale, Ennerdale, Buttermere, the Derwent and Greta river valleys from Braithwaite to Threlkeld, Matterdale, Ullswater, Haweswater, Longsleddale, Kentmere, Ambleside and both Great and Little Langdale before finishing back in Coniston.

The 2010 race

Arriving early for race registration pays off! After the weigh-in and kit-check I can take advantage of a free pre-race massage. Perfect!

The race briefing is entertaining and Joss Naylor's words inspirational, but the usual pre-race nerves kick in - everyone else looks fitter, faster and better prepared! Map cases, laminated road books, sports drinks to sip on during the briefing - why didn't I think of any of that? Is my pack too heavy? Do I really need to carry so much drink for the first section? Will the back hold out? I really should have made time for more reccies...

Before too long we're called out onto the start line and as we set off on this epic journey to the cheers of on lookers the nerves disappear.

On the way to Seathwaite - checkpoint 1Leg 1 - Coniston to Seathwaite - We're off. I've feared (and looked forward to) this moment ever since I signed up in December!

A steady start, a few words exchanged with my club mate Nigel, stunning views, those who are not already in front file past as we climb Walna Scar. I arrive at the first checkpoint in 76th place, but faster than my 'average target pace' requires.

Leg 2 - Seathwaite to Boot - Familiar ground, the feet get wet, muddy and I begin to appreciate how lucky I am to be familiar with the terrain to come.

Many happy memories of stays in Duddon, reccies and races - the muddy miles fly by and I am lucky enough to be guided along the river by a fellow competitor. We attempt to shout some others back who missed a turn, but they don't hear. Arrive at Boot in 78th place, but still happy with the pace!

Leg 3 - Boot to Wasdale - Great company, the moon rises bright above the big fells, easy running and good progress.

The scenery is stunning as the day draws to a close. A milky moon starts to rise and gives some hope for a clear bright night. The tarn, with the backdrop of big fells and some dozy cows in the meadows, lit up by the moon and last of the daylight are one of the views that have stuck in my mind. I get chatting with Tim (although we never bother introducing ourselves at the time!) and I arrive in Wasdale as it gets dark in 63rd place. 'Third woman' the checkpoint marshal announces as I reach for the (cold!) soup. The girls in charge of the soup are distressed, but it went down ok and the jelly beans are fantastic and will keep me going through most of the night!

Leg 4 - Wasdale to Buttermere - Torches out as the going gets tough. Despite road book and map in hand, some detours - maybe I should have paid more notice rather than just hold them close!

What seems to be the first big climb is made a bit tougher by setting off up the wrong side of the stream. A steep climb through the bracken soon has us back on track, but the line of head torches ahead appears to climb to scary heights. From the top the descent seems tougher than it should - the dark and the tired legs don't help! Lots of rough, rocky ground.

Another climb up to Scarth Gap and I pick up the steep, rocky path from the top to decend down into Buttermere. I lose the path somewhere - not sure how much longer this detour would have taken had we not caught up with a group that had made the same mistake but got us back on track with a GPS. A nice trot through the woods along the lake shore takes us to the Buttermere checkpoint. 60th place. Lovely mushroom soup and coffee.

Leg 5 - Buttermere to Braithwaite - The route looks straight forward on the map but I have never been along here! I meet David who's happy for me to tag along!

David, a fellrunner from Bowland, lets me tag on to him for this stretch. I feel embarrassed about my lack of reccieing - my excuse is that I've been in denial for most of the year, thinking that I'd never be fit enough to give the race a go and convinced myself that I would do the 50 mile event instead! The paths are lovely and runnable apart from when we're climbing. Our pace seems well matched and a mix of chatter and quiet plodding gets us to Braithwaite.

The first hot food stop. Pasta and rice pudding - more coffee too. 53rd place - higher than that really, but I can't remember whether I dibbed on arrival, so dib again, just in case, as I leave.

Leg 6 - Braithwaite to Blencathra Centre - I discover that competitive streak. Dawn at last.

I run for fun, because I love to be in the fells, love the cammeraderie amongst runners on these long events, love the journey and the memories. As I arrive at the Braithwaite checkpoint Catherine, the first woman, leaves. I'm second. I leave, steady still as we're only a third of the way into the race, but some idea has sparked in my head. Could I? Really? No! No! Just be happy if you don't suffer later and manage to finish! But maybe? No!

The roads and trails through Keswick provide good running, but the climb after Latrigg is longer and steeper than I expected! The whole leg is longer than I expected! The decent is lovely and runnable though and the Blencathra checkpoint reached as dawn breaks quietly and unspectacular! 41st place.

'You're second woman - you could catch her', says the checkpoint marshal. 'All I came to do was to finish' I reply - feebly! 'But now you want to win!' - 'Well, YES, that would be nice! But...'.

Leg 7 - Blencathra to Dockray - Almost half way.

David caught up again just before the last checkpoint, having spent a bit longer re-fuelling at Braithwaite. We set off together - and will run together until the finish from here onwards! He's a great guide again along the tracks to Threlkeld. Nice easy running, before the steady climb along the path round to Dockray. We've both gone through some bad patches by now - but try as I might, I can't remember them - endorphins??

The first woman is in sight. We're catching her slowly but surely. It's exciting but I also expect Anna to come from behind any minute - and it's not quite half way yet - too early to get excited by anything. Despite reaching half way being quite a positive landmark, the thought of 'same again, and a bit more' is a bit daunting.

34th at the checkpoint. Not a fan of malt loaf or cake, this is the second stop in a row where I don't eat much. Not a good start to the second half!

Leg 8 - Dockray to Dalemain - A bad patch, the long road, the appetite's back - in fact I'm starving!

The climb out of Dockray's tough. Even though it's early morning it's really warm. I'm feeling weak. I'm worried I 'm holding David back and, not for the last time, encourage him to go on ahead. He's having none of it! A farmer's gathering sheep, it's sweltering. Early still, but I start to wonder how the online results are working and whether anyone's following our progress. We soon know that our loved ones are faithfully following every step when we call with ETAs for Dalemain. The support gives an extra boost along the road section that is tough on heavy legs.

Food is badly needed now - I'm dreaming of the sandwiches I've got in my backpack and almost discarded, thinking I'd never actually want to eat them!

Finally at the checkpoint - 31st place! Now food! Pasta, a cheese mayo sandwich and a nutella sandwich. Then fresh socks and a quick massage - what a bonus this is for tired legs!!!! Catherine arrives as I leave - not much of a lead then, but too early still to push on!

We had both been worried about missing the start of the Lakeland 50 race, which was due to start at Dalemain at midday. Now we had arrived here way before their start and too early for our supporters! David's family arrives just as we leave and they agree to head on to Pooley Bridge to meet us.

Leg 9 - Dalemain to Howtown - Hugs and kisses, then another bad patch!

From Dalemain it's a nice stretch along the river into Pooley Bridge. David's family is here, waiting. Emotional stuff! We split up briefly in Pooley Bridge as I catch up with Ben, who's cycled over! A hug and a kiss, and I could cry! Instead I rush into the public toilets though - too much food? Ben tells me not to worry about any placings or the time - 'You're doing great, just keep going!'

I have to work quite hard to catch up with David again. We both struggle on the way to Howtown, but manage plenty of running - neither of us would have done this much running on our own!

Into the Howtown checkpoint for coffee, a banana and a quick rest. 28th now.

Leg 10 - Howtown to Mardale Head - A really bad patch, a really good patch, the first Lakeland 50 competitors come past!

Out of Howtown I'm feeling grotty! The climb seems endless and I'm just about able to keep David in sight! Head down and upwards and onwards. A friendly supporter chatters excitedly, but I can barely acknowledge the support. The top - the highest point on the route - comes eventually and, together with David, we manage a good stretch of running along the ridge before the steep decent to the lake shore path. Some good banter along here and I'm feeling ok again.

The leading three Lakeland 50 runners come by, tightly packed, in a flash. Oh to be moving so swift and light!

Many more come past from here on. All seem to pass by with seemingly effortless ease. Will the legs ever be feeling up to decending or traversing at such speed? We arrive at the checkpoint. 25th place.

Leg 11 - Mardale Head to Kentmere - Rain and rocks - sharp rocks - rocks that make descending very tricky!

Head down for the climb and teeth gritted for the decent. Waterproofs are out as it's raining heavy now. We're moving well enough all things considered, but the Lakeland 50 competitors make us feel like we're standing still as they breeze past!

Into Kentmere in 26th place. The checkpoint is one of the highlights of the day! Great food and support! Race organiser Marc Laithwaite is generous with encouraging words and smiles and the marshals are on hand with food and drink. I never saw the fruit smoothies though - gutted. The checkpoint has given me a boost and I 'm chomping at the bit to carry on! Waterproof trousers on and I rush us back out into the rain, onto the next leg.

Leg 12 - Kentmere to Ambleside - The pain kicks in!

The climb out of Kentmere is predictably tough, but it's the decents that really hurt now! I try desperately to pick out smooth paths as we attempt to keep running, but I often grind to a walk when the concentration and effort required to decend gets too much. Somewhere near the bottom the pain kicks in - on impact, each step - the left shin's complaining badly! I can't run downhill on steep or hard ground any longer. Ambleside's close though - another mile-stone and definitely the start of the 'last big push'.

As we reach the town, there's Ben. Then David's family. David's face crumples and there's tears. Nobody who's watching remains unmoved. Supporters here are full of awe and kind, encouraging words. They are lining the streets. It's hard not to cry! We rush into the checkpoint - desperate, as though our lives depend on it. Expecting a miracle? 25th place. Coffee, food, a massage on the shin - painful but effective!

David and i on the way to Chapel Stile - still running, almostLeg 13 - Ambleside to Chapel Stile - The last bit of running, the last bit of light...

It's a battle not to think too far ahead - just four miles to the next checkpoint - don't think of the rough path to Great Langdale, the climb up to Blea Tarn, that horrid track to the road... Don't! Just four miles to Chapel Stile!

We manage to run from Skelwith to Elterwater - somehow! Then a quick walk to the checkpoint. 24th palce. Stew and a bit of tlc for the feet - fresh, dry socks that I've carried in the dry-sack since Coniston - shame I forget to shake out the shoes before putting them back on!

Leg 14 - Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite - One big, long bad patch!

We decide that powerwalking instead of running will be they way to get to the finish from here. It's quite a relief not to have to force the body into a run any more. Then it's dark again. Amazing clouds wrap around the fell tops ahead and drift into the valley. My favourite valley - any other day - tonight it's full of challenges and painful steps. It's the stretch from Blea Tarn to the road that's worst. The pain in the left shin is excrutiating and I feel scarily unsteady on the paths through the bracken that are hard to make out in the dark. I stumble about, barely moving forward, whilst the Lakeland 50 runners stream past.

Then the track to Tilberthwaite. Uphill's not too bad, downhill hurts - a lot! Still, there's some comfort in reaching this, the last check point!

Leg 15 - Tilberthwaite to Coniston - Too hot, too tired, in pain - are we lost?

Up the steps from Tilberthwaite I suddenly get unbearably hot and have to peel out of the waterproofs. I feel light headed too - not enough food, or too much sugar? I force down sweets and biscuits, worried I might have just hit the wall! The clag makes progress hard. The headtorch has to be held in the hand and the lack of features and the slow progress after some 100 miles make us fear we're on the wrong track. The compass says we're right, so we continue. The ascent seems endless, goes on and on. Finally there's features we can recognise - not quite the top yet. More painful climbing.

Then at last the start of the final descent - I 'm filled with dread instead of joy! The stones are painful, every muscle aches and the shin is screaming.

'Pain's temporary,...' is our battle cry as we grit our teeth and fight our way down the slope, reach the road and muster a trot.

The Finish - Coniston

There it is! The finish! The moment I 've dreamt about many a time, but hadn't dared to think about since Friday. We'll be able to stop! Ben is there by the road side, smiling. Across the line I fall into his arms. A handshake from Terry, a smile from Marc Laithwaite who checks I'm ok - then I hear the roar inside - 'first female finisher in the Lakeland 100 has arrived' - into the hall. The reception there is a moment I will never forget! Somewhere in between a grin and tears I receive the final timing sheet. 32 hours and 19 minutes. 26th place.

Then the weigh in - I 've lost 0.2kg since setting off on Friday. Don't think this will catch on as a weight loss programme!

Lot's of hugs and pats on the back, then a shower at last and some clean clothes. The first dog to finish the Lakeland 50 comes in - drops on the carpet to rub it's face. I can't face food or drink - so after soaking up the atmosphere and chatting to some folk it's back home to bed!

Aftercare!

I return to the race HQ at Coniston on Sunday morning after a short, restless night and a good breakfast. 'Another massage please. The shin's sore and a bit bruised, can you give that a good rub please?' No massage on the shin though, just some puzzled, worried faces, then the advice from the race doctor to get it x-rayed on monday as he suspects a stress fracture...

The prize giving is fun - many 100 and 50 mile competitors have made the effort to be here and there's many tales that make us smile or laugh - and one that makes us whince and groan in unison! The one about the guy who'd climbed up the steep steps after the final checkpoint at Tilberthwaite, some hundred miles into the race, got to the top and thought 'Did I dib down there?', turned back round and went back to the checkpoint to dib - just in case! Marc tells us that he had dibbed already...

Now, two days later, nothing's aching much, but the leg's in plaster and I 'm hopping about on crutches. Mum doesn't understand when I say I'd do it all again!

Why? It's all the memories above and so many more that remain untold, the friends made and the adventure had. The one day, after a year of self doubt and dissapointing racing when it had all come together - the perfect race.

Thanks to all involved in the race - it's an awesome event, one which well deserves it's reputation!

 

Results:

70 of the 123 starters in the 100 mile event reached the finish within the cut off times and 276 of 309 achieved the same in the 50 mile race.

Lakeland 100 results

Men

1 Stuart Mills 24:10
2 Andy Mouncey 25:37
3 Duncan Harris 25:56



Women

1 Britta Sendlhofer 32:19
2 Catherine Lawson 36:10
3 Anna Finn 36:57



First Pair (mixed)

1

Hannah Moore-Barton
Nigel Coates

Hills Ahoy 36:53


Lakeland 50 results

Men

1 Andrew James 07:46
2 Jon Morgan 07:53
3 Marcus Scotney 08:26



Women

1 Sarah Rowell 09:58
2 Sue Sleath 10:41
3 Julie Gardner 11:02

 


First Team (male)

1

Dave Cumins
James Winrow
Tom Morris

British Military Fitness Brighton 11:14

 

 

 

For full results and more information about the event check out the race website: www.lakeland100.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About The Author

Britta Sendlhofer

Britta, originally from Austria, came to live in the Lake District in 1990.

Always in love with the mountains, the local hills and fells have since been her favourite ‘playground’. She spends much of her spare time exploring the hills – no matter what the season or the weather – always accompanied by her two Border Collies.

While the fells and trails are her first love, Britta has also completed 10 road marathons, before moving up to ultra events. Her biggest achievements are a Bob Graham Round, the Himalayan 100 mile stage race,the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc race and the Lakeland 100.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comments

Team Winners (Male)

by TomMorris
09:49, Thursday 12th August 2010
Hi Britta. I am afraid there has been a mistake in the publishing above of the winners of the 50 mile team event. British Military Fitness Brighton won in a time of 11:14. As a member of that team it would be appreciated if this was corrected in the article. Congratulations on your win, I hope you will want to go back and repeat your success next year! Many thanks, Tom Morris.
 
 
 
 
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