Running - Offroad race (Lakeland 50) 9:21:03  78.56 km (7:09 / km) +2806m 6:04 / km
ahr:125 max:164 shoes: S/LAB Ultra 3
Well that was a bit epic.
Entered this last year, got through the ballot etc, and then obvs it was cancelled along with everything else. It looks like I must have chosen to defer since a month or so I got an "x weeks to go!" email which made me think...what?
The clash with Buttermere, which I really enjoyed last time, very nearly meant I didn't do this - nearly bailed in the same way that I did in Lakeland Trails 55k vs Wasdale. But given the ballot and the exorbitant entry fee, thought I should at least give it a go and see what all the fuss is about.
There is certainly atmosphere - created by the size of the event (1134 on the 50 I think, not sure about the 100, fewer but not sure how many fewer). It look about 90 minutes in total to register on Friday night (tip for future - despite them advising against it, registering on Saturday morning [if not camping, like I wasn't] would be much faster. Everyone finishing gets a massive cheer in the marquee, and also at every pub you run past (especially the ones in the centre of Ambleside) and it does really make you feel special. Having the name on the race number is a bit of mixed blessing because it makes it hard to separate the people you actually know from the ones just being friendly.
Race didn't start until 11.30 to allow time for the 30 minute briefing (where the hall was too full to let everyone inside, so I missed it - can't have been too important since I don't think I did anything wrong!) - in fact I didn't speak to anyone at all who'd actually been to it. Then the 75 mins ish coach ride from the Finish to the start, and then a bit of waiting around getting everyone into estimated time-pens - actually that bit worked quite well since noone ever likes being too near the front and so there were no overtaking issues or anything.
It was hotter than I was hoping for. Started at the front, obvs, but after the first loop around Dalemain estate the first group of 6 ish had disappeared into the distance and I was about 10th. Position stayed pretty constant all the way to CP1 at Howtown, maybe lost a few but regained immediately by not stopping - barely drank anything by this point.
However made a bad call on how much water I'd need to be able to carry on this leg - the 1L I had wasn't enough to get from Howtown to Mardale - incl. the biggest climb of the day (only to 650m or something, but still) in the heat. Run out by Haweswater and then had 7k ish along the shore, through the hot bracken, in the sun. An extra bottle would have been perfect.
Still feeling pretty good though other than for the heat, about a third of the way around at Mardale, though. Had some flat coke as well as water which was a good call. Route up Gatesgarth Pass had some nice bits but downhill was endless stony track which was pretty unpleasant to run on. Into Kentmere, which was about halfway, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the motivational signage "You didn't come this far to only come this far", "When your legs are tired, run with your heart" (etc, etc), with "Remember, you paid to do this". Still feeling pretty good at Kentmere and the marshals told me I was "on for a good time". Yeah, well maybe, but it's only halfway! Wasn't planning on stopping here at all but my water plan (stop thrice) was way out the window due to the heat and so actually got another litre.
A short climb and then another tedious stony descent (this was a theme of the route tbh) and then a tedious stony ascent before a very short section of lovely shady woodland just before Ambleside. Crowd/support in Ambleside was awesome as expected. Another litre of water, and switched from coke to orange now. Two thirds of the way in 5:59, exactly on target; 8th place (someone told me I was in the top 10 and I guessed it would be about 8th, turns out I was bang on) and scheduled for a 8:50ish finish time - basically it was all going well up to 33 miles.
Then the short climb/descent after Ambleside I started to struggle with, and there was a really long flat section where I vaguely managed to keep it going but I could feel the wheels falling off. Lost a few minutes to Chapel Stile but it was still salvageable if I'd have perked up a bit. Which I failed to do - really slow around the Cumbria way round Langdale (rocky path), bit of a route error just after Side house (ended up on a too-low path) and then found the Side Pike climb really hard. Failed to eat my 7.5 hour Clif bar but just couldn't face it; I think a bit of it at least was heat-related. Struggling to drink enough as well I think, only had 500ml from Langdale to Tilberthwaite and so didn't stop at all there (this totally messed up the marshals; they literally couldn't understand what was going on). Overtaken by 4 on this leg.
Pushed really hard on the last climb (which was the nicest part of the course, actually technical rocky ascent rather than just annoying stones, and waterfalls and grass and views and things) - but then a pretty rubbish descent as per. Managed to stay ahead of someone I had seen behind me at Tilberthwaite by giving everything on the track/road last few km and ended up a minute or so ahead of 13th.
Total fluids 4.5L, total calories 4 Clif bars and a pack of Bloks. Probably deficient on both but the heat... I need to find a way of getting calories in when it's so warm.
Pleased with 12th place but disappointed with myself that I was 8th for so much of it, and also that I was on target to beat Matt's 9:01 for the first 7 hours (2 mins ahead of his split at Chapel Stile) before losing 20 mins between there and the end.
Great atmosphere and event really - but not a fan of the course. The first 50 miles of the 100 actually looks a bit better, but I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon. I think I preferred LiaD - looking forward to seeing how much faster I can do that this year.
Splits vs. (Matt)
Howtown 1:24 (1:33)
Mardale 3:12 (3:27)
Kentmere 4:33 (4:44)
Ambleside 5:59 (6:08)
Chapel Stile 7:03 (7:05)
Virtual CP 8:01 (7:54)
Tilberthwaite 8:34 (8:19)
Finish 9:21 (9:01)
I think most of the time was lost on the downhills - the ups I was still going relatively well (poles helped) but on the downhills my hips weren't happy with any kind of pace. On the downhill to Ambleside I was skipping down past people on the 100 and someone commented "I wish I had his legs". I knew exactly how he felt when I was passed by the first woman at 45 miles.