Running Another 38 Hours. Lakeland L100 2015

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Myself & Stu @ the registration with the crew before the running.

 

Scribbling thoughts down reflecting on my 3rd Lakeland run in a row , starting with the L50 in 2013 , completing Two L100 epics over 2014 and 2015 gives me a real feeling of  achieving something rather special.

Really enjoyed last years L100 and had no doubts about having another attempt in 2015 if I was lucky enough to get a place, and after only Twenty minute’s after registering then selling out, I realised how very lucky I was to get a slot on the starting grid with the Legends this year.

Two very Happy L100 Finishers

L100 finish in 2014.

                        I had a very slow recovery from last years run, lost my mojo a bit, my feet were very sore from blisters and numb with loss of feeling for over a month and my legs felt like they did not belong, so plans I had of races and time goals shortly after were put on hold, but I was very happy to pay the price knowing things would be cool  soon and hopefully as my body got used to the Hundred , maybe recovering more quickly would improve too on the next one.

 

                         I ran an odd club race finding my running feet but my weekly mileage was very low and I wasn’t able to train for the Kielder Marathon in October as I had planned, but still turned up and had a canny run, enjoying the miles of the tough trail run, proving that the miles and hills stay in your legs for far longer than you consider.

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Stu, Gareth and me passing the Black Bull on the last few hundred yards

 

                           November was a nothing running month for me and I was worried all the training and effort from the previous Two years was starting to be eroded so I considered I needed a goal, something special to focus my running on and stretch myself, I remembered entering a challenge the previous December to run every day of the month and hunted out the site with a view to re-joining it and ramping up some miles (I think I ran about 325 in Dec 2014). To my disappointment, the FB site was no longer active,  I wasn’t  aware of the famous one Marco & Debbie had, otherwise I would have jumped at that. Over a cold beer I decided to set up my own” Run Every Day December” (RED) group, I simply invited all my Facebook contacts and challenged them to join me in running a minimum of 1 mile, but a must- run every day a minimum requirement too. Some of my friends have never ran a mile before and started to and still do, but most are  brilliant runners, few mind  have ever ran every day for a month. Two in the group ran every day since the project started, I don’t think they will ever stop .

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Strollettes at the 80,s disco at Wasdale Head.

                                 I sent out the invite , went to work not getting back home till 10.30 pm and got ready for my first run of the 31. When I got back after a shower, I was astonished to see how active the group had become, and there must have been over a hundred runners that ran and posted their efforts, there was a real buzz about the challenge and the group, I recorded my 16 mile run quietly and it went unnoticed and carried on with life. I don’t think it was till about the fourth day that I got questioned what I was up to after I reposted the same 16 mile regular run I had done from Roker to South Shields Red pier every night, with my monthly mileage target of 500 miles needing me to find only 4 extra miles to succeed. Well people thought me mad, some considered it beyond me and some thought it would cause me injuries, One clever friend suggested I raise money for the Local Sunderland hospice and I finished the month having ran 508 miles ,after 31 average runs of 16 miles over 84 hours and raising over £2000 for a great charity too. Really pleased with my December running for a number of reasons and it kept me fit and active for my July challenge to come.

                   My plan was to complete my 2015 L100 a little quicker than last year if possible 38.39 and I am proud to have done that and got my PB (38.11) 168th, but the main aim was to successfully finish under the 40 hour time out, so working on the principle that last years training was good enough, I pretty much, mirrored the monthly miles, hills and efforts and entered the same races throughout the year too more or less. That was fun and a way of testing my fitness v last year.  I hadn’t visited the lakes as much, but was actively running the North York Moors as often as I could get a chance as a good second best.

                   The Strollers had a very large and talented field running the L50 and as we know had tremendous performances from the Girls and Boys smashing many Pbs and winning prizes in style. In the Hundred the club had 5 runners having a crack  (3 successfully finished) at this years race and after a training run in the lakes a few weeks before with Stroller Stuart Percival  ,an experienced lakes man , it would be his 1st Hundred with a similar mission ambition  to simply complete. We then decided to run together if things allowed and enjoy winding the miles back getting to know more about each other and ourselves on route.

                   Kit packed , I headed off to the Lakeland camp with my best friend and the rest of the Strollers filled with a mixture of excitement and a little fear, but drifting in to the zone that soon found me once again at the start line of this 105 mile adventure, looking around , again, considering everyone to be  stronger, fitter and more determined than me, oh lordly, bricking it a bit before the off.

 

                Weather gods were on our side this year, and the 1st climb out and towards Seathwaite was effortless it appeared in the cool air. So very different from last year.

               My first drama of the run , just before saying hello and thanking the Cow Bell Girl for her support ( sitting in a similar spot as last year and equally beaming with enthusiasm this year too) One of my running  friends in front of me with his poles collapsed to halve size , with a Very sharp and deadly point, was drawing them back in a stabbing motion, randomly as he ran in front of me, just missing me Two or Three times, it was a little congested and getting past him was an effort worth striving for, not sure how many runners Jeff killed on his travels , must have been lots ;0) .We hit the summit after about an hour climbing up the Walna Scar road and just over Thirty  minutes later we entered the 1st Cp @ Seathwaite . Our Race was on.

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Heading up and out of Coniston at the Start.

 

               I was becoming a pro, guessing the location of the Sport Sunday photographers from last year and , then gathering myself and trying to look like I was either running or enjoying myself should they snap (poser!) , something that would get harder as the miles rolled by. Stu and I were settling down to a nice relaxed running rhythm and arrived to a Hello Hello French reception @ Boot, and we started to eat! boy did we eat.

                   We loved the next section as it was short, about 5.5 miles, flattish really and just starting to get dark over Burnmoor Tarn and we were heading towards the Stroller camp at Wasdale Head. I was enjoying chatting to Simon and other runners as we started to bleed in to each other and  I was keen to get in to Wasdale without head torches on. That we did, not that we beat the sunset in the end and had a hilarious run jumping rocks and streams in pitch black before a fantastic reception by our Stroller marshals dressed in 80,s Disco stuff. Once again a real high point of the run.

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                   The costumes once again brilliant, lots of effort, planning and hard work just made everyone smile , true of all the checkpoints amazingly now , after 20 miles and just under a 5th of the way home too.  We said are goodbyes , Torches on and off we set, turning right towards Black Sail pass, the climb again was little effort from the pair of us and soon to be crossing the fast flowing Gatherstone beck that I could hear well before I could see it , and hitting the switch backs with plenty of new steps , rocks and work done on the paths by the fixing the fells people. NB: after 80 miles I wanted to start a group called flattening the fells, removing all the hills and rocks and tarmacking the entire lakes, when I got grumpy every now and again with the sore feet yet to come. Bad T ! 

                    We paused at the top of Blacksail and looked back and down, the image of a train of torches slowly making progress upwards in multiple “S” shaped streaks, hundreds of feet down, with other torches way off in the distance was just One of the perfect and memorable visual images of the weekend, really special and worth considering doing the hundred for that alone. No time to dally, off over the top, and a Very wet, boggy, slimy top it was up their, the decent towards the River Liza and passing the YHA hut was dangerous really, a number of runners were losing their footing and landing on there backsides, sometimes receiving a soft soggy reception and others a little less lucky like Stu and Adnan I later discovered ,smashing in to hard and un friendly rocks, causing quite a bit of pain and worry. Another short sharp accent of Scarth Gap then on to another nasty wet and precarious decent to the Lake at Buttermere. A very welcome soup station and time to refuel ,I noticed we had been running the first 6 hours at just around 32 hour pace, way faster than intended, it gave us a bit of a time cushion and a chance to take it slowly out of Ghyll wood and on to  Sail pass . This would lead us to Brathwaite again around that technical bit, you know the one with the big drop in to the quarry! Did I mention that I am frightened of heights :0/ lol.

                          Coming in to Buttermere I could hear an infections and enthusiastic girl from behind chatting, totally clearly enjoying her adventure too. Turned out to be our friend Hester. She caught up with Stu and I as we travelled in to the dawn together, enjoying each others banter, working the hills and heading for Braithwaite Cp. I had the same small navigation trouble finding a cairn in the darkness to find the last path getting us over Barrow Door, but  with a little help soon sorted and on to that lovely soft grassy decent in to the village. Still in very good spirits, it was pitch black  and legs were fine, we really pigged out at this feed station with cakes and Rice Pudding with Jam mixed in ! Been looking forward to that .

                     On to Keswick and That A66 Road section, we walked as we digested our meals a  bit, One or Two runners ran past us and then we were joined by a chap called Gareth, he had a very similar sense of humour that Stu and I shared and the Three way banter was hilarious (little did we know but we stayed together from then on till the finish) , it was just starting to get light as we were in the woods on the old railway line that we would re join later in day ,after running around the saddle hunting down Little Dave in his pink Tutu.(extra scary this year Dave ;0))

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Strollers celebrate with Cake and some Beers.

                     It started to get a little cold for the 1st time at around 5.am, looking up at amazing cloud inventions , another amazing Lakeland image only lunatics like us up @ nuts o’clock could ever witness. There was a larger group of us now on the pavement covering ground well soon to be scattered by a Crazy Mad woman on a bike (with red eyes)! who charged right down the middle of us, screaming for us to get out of her way! How she didn’t get spiked with a pole , I couldn’t understand? What was her hurry, where on earth was she going at that time and at such speed and what was wrong with the road lol She did make us laugh though.

                     A nice steady accent up and passing Latrigg woods ,taking us on a path affording amazing views over the lakes, as we could see  so far back where we had come from hours ago, really stunning. One runner had to stop, get his good camera out and record it for himself for another time. Now we adopted  a run walk strategy on to the path after the car park, eventually heading towards the first self clip, envious of the moving dots on the other side of the valley on our right a few miles ahead of us and heading for an early breakfast at Check point 6. Elise was to join Stu, Gareth and myself adding to our circus at the most Northerly point of the route ( something nice about heading south now) and we ran with her off and on till her sad retirement feeling ill at Kentmere, brilliant runner that laughed at hills. 

                             Stu had been having awful hassle with a pebble that wouldn’t reveal itself in his boot , even after a few investigatory stops, it had created a blister but this was sorted at the Blencathra centre CP thankfully. The smell of Bacon & Eggs the staff were about to scoff for their hard work was driving us crazy, so we all quickly moved on to Dockray very much looking forward to Fun on the Old coach road and did we have fun ( not) lol. 

                                After a sweaty climb up to the coach road from Newsham, as the sun now made its first appearance ,through a very wet and boggy section, lots of jokes and leg pulling helped us on this difficult chunk,(I nearly got swallowed up in to the mud more than once) once again stopping to pause and looking to your left at the Blencathra range in perfect visibility. We all commented how lucky in truth we were to be enjoying this road trip. Pleased to get that one done and grab some soup for the next haul after the horrid coach road section, we had decided to see if we could get to Dalmain before our L50 Crew had at least left the estate , so we could all wish each other good lucks, I estimated it was well doable and off we went.

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Wanted Dead or Alive! @ Howtown

                                This next section  is 10 miles , its tough but has the most stunning of views looking back over Ullswater around the Gowbarrow fells, it enjoys lots of dull tarmac road sections in the last Four miles towards Dacre with drop bags full of treats and a full fresh kit change, and the possibility of seeing our friends , even though the sun was beating down hard, we cracked on and covered ground well again. Half way around the lake we were astonished to find Adnan, our speedy L100  Stroller Ultraman , attempting a sub 30 hour run, struggling along with really sore feet, it looked certain he may have to retire and he lay down in the bracken for some rest. To our delight, a couple of miles up the track, he caught us up again,shot past , at the speed of sound, reborn after a pain-killer and running sub 6 min miles lol, we wouldn’t see him again and he finished in a very decent time too.

                                  Around this point Two lovely lady spectators jumped out of the bushes playing air guitar and started to sing the  Bon Jovi 80,s Rock anthem, “living on a prayer”, underling the “half way there” !  in their lyrics, Really funny @ around 50 miles , really loud and very much welcome, passing the time and miles nicely now.

                                   We ground out the next few miles and were pleased to see the back of them, we wandered in to our tent at Dalemain and dived in to stew, and cake and custard, batteries were replaced in torches and water topped up, then we set about changing our stuff and getting cleaned up a bit , I put new shoes on, Stu wasn’t changing a proven formula and stuck with his originals, We chatted to Hester and Lawrence from Low Fell who had just arrived with Tara his daughter looking strong too, they would pass us again coming into Ambleside ( I was chuffed to bits for them) Sadly we noticed Simon had retired who we last saw what seemed ages ago at Wasdale head, really top lad.

                                 Yes!!      The 1st L50 runner passed our tent in a flash, our timing was perfect after all ,then another then more, we quickly finished getting changed but not quick enough as (Strollers) Ken Maynard and Jon Davies running as a pair flew past with the fast pack, I started to notice some friendly faces now  and got a fab shout out in to the tent by Speedy Lou, my L100 buddy last year, that was something and someone I was very keen and pleased to see, and running so well too in the heat to claim her PB in the 50. Lots of the Strollers stopped and shook hands or hugged us, really amazing mid race!.  Time for us to re-join the race so we literally jumped in and jogged on, perfect.

                                       This next section to Howtown was to prove to be my race favourite from a people perspective, and the miles passed so very quickly as a result. As L50 runners passing us or indeed as we were now running well again into pooley bridge us passing them often. We would get the nicest comments and compliments for competing in the hundred. We came up on The Kevin Oneil and his fab Mrs, supporting us, not long after passing DJ and Julie also in support of the runners on route. Again some lovely shouts of encouragement’s from our running club mates and friends who hoped to spot us on our travels. We were now getting overtaken by the rest of our club  mates and friends who clocked our names or numbers and shared the trails with us to the Cowboy ranch as it now was at Howtown where it seemed I was One of a select few “Wanted” Dead or Alive and with a price on our heads. 

                            Sill in good spirits , we moved onwards up Fusedale, this was a bit of work for sure, but steady away and with lots of jokes we soon reached the top sniffing out High Kop , surprisingly leaving many L50 folk in the distance far below. My feet were feeling tender as was Gareth’s but Stu was getting stronger as the miles were rolling on. It was colder and windy over that section and I put my Jacket on for an hour for the very 1st time. Looking off into the distance at a trail of runners was a fab site, I found the decent in to Haweswater visually stunning but difficult to truly enjoy with rough feet and my legs for the 1st time too felt weak. I needed fuel and pretty much hated the rocky trail that just seemed endless towards Mardale around the lake.

Amazing what soup and sandwiches can do, we all rested and got set to get out of Mardale, Gareth set off in advance and we added club mate L50 runner Richard as we all set about Gatesgarth (more  fun!). My feet felt good again and we joined Gareth shortly before the summit. The decent was nasty for us all , really hate that bit but we kept a good pace with really positive attitudes. We could start to visualise the finish and knew we had broken the back of the run , the last 3 miles in to Kentmere seemed to start at a sign saying 1.5 miles to Kentmere. if ever I meet the chap that put that up I will disembowel him with pleasure. I was now starting to do the howtown shuffle, a dance I remember doing last year, kind of jogging on the spot, swinging my arms about in the hope that would take away the pain from my really sore feet.

Kentmere to Ambleside started well after treating my pain, and the views , skyline , colours on the fells with the various shading and smells at that time in the evening were lovely. It was getting cold, we had wrapped up with buffs, gloves , warm jackets and had our head torches in situ waiting to activate in an hour or so. Soon in Troutbeck then descending through the woods of Ambleside, soft cold rain was cooling us as we hit the main road shortly taking us up to a very friendly reception from the Ambleside crew. I think  I must have had a sleep walking nap on the way to the next CP , what I can remember is over taking a chunk of runners and my eyes lighting up walking towards the log burning stoves that looked and smelt wonderful at Chapel Stile. Lots more food then on to the Blea Tarn and daylight on the way soon. Again this section went quickly in my head, no hallucination’s at all this year but my perception of time was jaded as lack of sleep was there. We dibbed out of the self check and headed on the small road section towards the final Cp, I was ok on the smoother surfaces but the sharper rocky paths were killing my feet now, Gareth  was in a similar state but Stu had managed to keep his feet a bit dryer  or maybe his pain threshold was higher , either way he was looking great .

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No  stopping , we just pushed our pegs in to the dibber sockets and started to take the steps, I was much slower on the last section than last year and suffered like never before on the final climb down, legs and everything were fine, just the feet made me literally grind out a final result, instead of the spring down as I had last year with Lou. That said I was  like Gareth enjoying around half an hour faster than last year and over One Hundred runners who sadly were unable to finish would be delighted to suffer for a little for the prize of that medal and Tee. 38 hours 11 mins  and we bagged it, Three very happy Lakeland runners. One of Stu,s pals got me a cold beer and within minutes I was fast asleep in my tent . That night the Strollers pretty much took over the Black Bull , it was a brilliant to celebration , I was so very proud of every one of them, everyone had a story and once again , I still struggled to accept I managed to complete the L100 It somehow didn’t seem real, I didn’t dream all this did I?

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A 1st L100 for Stu and a PB for me 38.11.01 Happy with that.

 

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My Road to the L100

Running for 38 Hours

Long Road Ahead! Long Road Ahead!

                           

                      My inspiration and interest in the Lakeland 50 and her bigger brother The L100 was from fellow Club running Team mate Neil Bennett. After successfully completing his first Lakeland 50 , he wrote about his exploits in a Club e mail I happened to read .I guess It must have been 2009 at the time I was dipping my toe into my 1st marathon that was hugely challenging to my mind and at the same time this Legend had completed a gruelling 50 miles Lakeland Ultra and went on to conquer the Awesome L100 again and again!!

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                            Two years ago after I had by now completed a number of marathons comfortably including all the  Kielders , a trial marathon I thought at the time to be very hard . I decided to enter my 1st L50 and the short road to my L100 the following year was set, without me realising …

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My Road to the L100

 

 

Long Road Ahead!

Long Road Ahead!

                           

                      My inspiration and interest in the Lakeland 50 and her bigger brother The L100 was from fellow Club running Team mate Neil Bennett. After successfully completing his first Lakeland 50 , he wrote about his exploits in a Club e mail I happened to read .I guess It must have been 2009 at the time I was dipping my toe into my 1st marathon that was hugely challenging to my mind and at the same time this Legend had completed a gruelling 50 miles Lakeland Ultra and went on to conquer the Awesome L100 again and again!!

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Neil Bennett Lakeland Legend

                            Two years ago after I had by now completed a number of marathons comfortably including all the  Kielders , a trial marathon I thought at the time to be very hard . I decided to enter my 1st L50 and the short road to my L100 the following year was set, without me realising . Unwinding  time to approximately Ten years ago, I did little exercise expect the odd dog walk or occasional cycle and being busy working for a prestige car retail dealership, weight started to pile on and with entertaining clients resulting in a very poor diet with many pub visits straight after workings ,things were not healthy. I needed to consider where I was going .

 

                               One December morn I was getting ready for work, sat on the edge of my bed and trying putting my shoes on, I had to regroup and hold my breath as I bent over again to attempt to tie my shoe laces (gasping when finished!), as my beer tummy was so large it was becoming a disability ! Enough . That day I entered my 1st Great North run and regardless of many doubters and betting against , I finished what I considered to be the largest running distance a human was capable of covering on Two feet . My time was Two hours and Sixteen minutes , not the fastest but I had the running bug and my body was starting to like my decision-making . My dream time was a Sub Two Hours and the following year despite ruining lots more of the same miles, I was only Twelve seconds faster . Ha ha , well a PB is a PB . I continued to enter the GNR every year and managed to improve on time year on year to date except for One hot year and am pushing towards a sub 90 min target.

The Red Arrows of the Tyne Bridge in The Great North Run

The Red Arrows over the Tyne Bridge in The Great North Run

                                      I got a little internet running savvy and started  reading blogs and finding running websites and was soon to do hills and intervals and the reps between lampposts and all ,my stamina and speed started to look canny and increase , fitness and heath improving and weight reducing nicely . 2009 was the year I entered my 1st Edinburgh Road Marathon and stood shaking at the start , on the hottest day of the year with a time targeting of 4 hours , just missed out by only 5 minutes but finished , battered and exhausted and elated . Now this truly was the longest distance anybody in the world could possibly run and there was nothing left for me to attempt to smash , everyone knows that !! I was Now Marathon man after all ;0) .Running career over .

 

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My 1st Sub Four Hour Kielder Marathon in my 4th wonderful attempt at this running gem.

 

                                 2010 the legend that is Steve Cram launched Britain’s most beautiful and brutal Kielder marathon , around the stunning Kielder reservoir in its own  lushness in Northumberland . I had seen a clip on the local evening news and I was in love at the prospect even though it would never be a PB run , so many hills and switchbacks , twists and turns and more hills ,sticking well over half an hour on the similar flatter ordinary road marathons of Edinburgh and the rest . Something changed in me and running times were not now the most important of things in my head all the time , at that time my running matured. As this was an October run it gave me Two Bi annual marathons to train for and kept my fitness at much higher levels .

 

Kielder Marathon in the rain 2011 . Caught on camera.

Kielder Marathon in the rain 2011 . Caught on camera.

                                  By this time I had just joined my local running club The Sunderland Strollers , an amazingly friendly club with very eclectic running tastes . It will be my fifth Keilder Marathon next month, my introduction into off road running and so proud to have finished 155 miles of Lakeland racing over the last 12 months too. Seriously if you are able to get there and try it , you won’t regret it , it’s a bit special .

 

A nervous briefing around 5pm. Pre Race Start.

A nervous briefing around 5pm. Pre Race Start.

                                     Now I know most Lakeland blogs tend to get stuck into the actual run much quicker than I have attempted to, but I felt a little back ground as to how my running became about would maybe give you a little more understanding as to what drove me round my L100 to complete with The biggest smile imaginable . So now I was entering all sorts of crazy running things , all new and I Loved them all equally , XC on a Saturdays with the North East Harrier League, 2 mile Relays , mile time trials , Hardmoors marathons and last year a brilliant opportunity was presented to me to attempt my 1st Ultra The Oz Phoenix , a 33 miler across the Cleveland way in the North York moors in fierce heat just a few weeks before last years L50 that I was terrified and excited to have a crack at .

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My 1st Ultra

                              The Yorkshire run started really well and up to 25 / 26 miles was not a bother . But my fitness and stamina wasn’t as bold as I would have liked and my team-mate encouraged me over the last tough miles with humour , sound advice and brilliant navigational knowledge so all I had to do , pretty much was put One painful foot in front of another and develop my 1st Black Toenails that were both to drop off ( so proud ) and finish , crashing out in a beer garden for the best tasting pint I had ever drank . I was now Ultra man (lol) thanks to my friend and my hard work , who sacrificed a huge chunk of a much better running time she would have rightly ran helping me to complete . I Loved that run regardless that I struggled, the people were so helpful and friendly , the cake stops were delicious and welcome , just so different to a road marathon  experience.  

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The Crazy Strollers @ Wasdale Head CP3

                                 The L50 last year was just a running / walking / flapjackeating and coke drinking dream come true . Finished just on 14 hours and loved every step but found last years heat tested my tenacity after Mardale Head to Kentmere to the limits .  I was gaining strength mentally and physically with the more miles I had covered! The training had been perfect, I was lucky to be running injury free most of the time and now had a taste for something more than a little bit special.

 

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Strollers in the Bling, some of our 50 finishers.

                                     I had seen the Legendary L100 crew on the way , I verbally congratulated every single One I passed (or felt I had) , reading their name carefully and made sure they knew how Awesome I thought their efforts were. I didn’t tell them how fecking nuts I thought they were and reminded myself Never Ever to be so very stupid to ever consider signing up for a caper like that . And going to sleep a 50 legend I just couldn’t get their achievement and the accomplishments out of my mind . Idiots , but good on em , I slept well too .

Start of the L50 IN 2013

Start of the L50 IN 2013

My Lakeland L100 was very special , some stories I openly share and others I may tell you over a pint when I’ve had One too, like the fact I couldn’t find the flush in the portaloos , desperate to bottle up and move on , finding it on the floor when standing up , then forgetting that a couple of check points up the road , as you do get a bit dizzy with stuff. My hallucinations were varied and bizarre as we know most others enjoyed equally strange mind tricks.

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                                  I still don’t consider myself a runner but I obviously am , I never thought I could finish a half marathon with enough energy to somehow keep on keeping on . So I still struggle to accept it wasn’t a huge hallucination and I actually completed a hard and lengthy and respected ultra marathon and to have so many nice compliments about the style that in that I finished really puts icing on that Ultra cake . Lou blogged a fascinating and wonderful account across the various sections that we traversed , never an intention to pair up , by either of us Two very determined and independent runners , but we did and equally had all the challenging colours and emotions a testing run that is the L100 bestows up on a runner. I have decided to have another attempt at the amazing Lakeland L100 next year if I am fortunate to get accepted , I Loved it with all my heart , think I’ve learned lots about myself . Such a very special running treat to be involved with too .

Strollers over Haweswater training for 2013 events

Strollers over Haweswater training for 2013 events

I love the training just as much as the event itself, getting up at 4am in a cold dark wet January day to jump into the shower and head off in the car to an off road challenge or practice learning and running over part of the Hundred plus mile route. Finishing the days shattered but they are just so very rewarding and bring you so close to nature , experiencing all kinds not many others do, very spiritual and wonderful, regardless of temperatures and elements thrown at you. I was very confident when I trained for the Fifty that I would finish, I had no doubt what so ever, but the L100 regardless of lots of my friends assuring me I would do it , I just honestly did not know if luck and legs would allow. 

 

                    My longest training run was from Boot to Blencathera centre and returning around 34 miles in One go a few weeks before the run. Well that said it  was matched with an organised event with Claire & co earlier in the year. I wanted to do some longer runs as we all did, but it’s just fitting everything in running wise with work and the rest, but I had run lots and what I lacked in running distance I had attempted to make up in running strength and in the month leading up to the taper by aggressively running 10 miles a couple of times a week with maybe a Twenty miler at the weekend.

                      I had suffered from a weak ankle causing discomfort in my Achilles, that and a painful hip after running longer miles earlier in the year and I knew if either was to play up, they could both take me out over the run well before the finish. But thankfully they were no problem and apart from the usual chaffing that had me and my mate sharing Vaseline that was extremely funny and  painful in equal measures. You have to have a sense of humour being an ultra runner and shyness goes out the window after hundreds of miles and hours over the fells. I did madly go over on my soft ankle 3 times before Wasdale and winced at One of the falls, but running gods were on my side. So much luck, good and bad involved on such a large distance, 

              The great day had arrived, Harry  kindly drove to camp and I had time to chill a bit before the start, I was less nervous than I expected and was keen to pretty much get going. My tactic was to break the run down in to 6 hour time intervals, ticking them off, and I had considered arrival times into the first Three Checkpoints but took on board Marc’s comments at the briefing about expectations and all and I was as determined to finish regardless of time, pain or anything if I could. We were off, I had the SP where the 30 plus Sunderland Strollers would be cheering myself Neil and Lou off on our way, and sure enough we got an amazing sending, Dan High Fived me with such force, I felt my fingers stinging well up the road to CP1. 

 

Glorious sunshine and smiles, with such stunning views to match. So many brilliant blogs describing in detail the fabulous and testing sections we ran across, so I wont duplicate them. My high points were arriving into CP3 the Stroller run camp before midnight, completing the first of my Six hour blocks and heading off strong and full of beans up the Black sail pass. Running through the 1st nights in general , really on a high, covering ground well and in great spirits. I really enjoyed the section from Howtown  to Mardale Head after nearly pulling out, I think the combination of cooler running conditions and satisfaction that the task was now achievable was very satisfying , again such beautiful countryside and so very peaceful and chilled.

 

                             I commented to Lou how unlike the hustle and bustle of the L50 on that downward section with less than a handful of runners to pass/passing us, as was my experience last year. And such a wonderful reception by the  Spartans at Mardale with soup to match their smiles. Finally I Loved the last and final climb over Tilberthwaite, it was incredible how disrespectful myself and Louise were of the miles we had run, we obviously had lots in reserve and my Garmin had us from Checkpoint to summit in a respectable 29 minutes and we ran the descent , dancing over the rocks and reaching the tarmac as if we had just started a smaller fell race or park run. The feeling of pride was impossible for me to hide, and the same bunch of Strollers clapped and whistled us as we passed the bulk of them opposite the school gates, just before we collected our medals.  

           I had One or Two lower points , the painful feet after 70 plus miles was getting beyond a joke and when the cold rain joined my hallucinations on the way towards Kentmere and on to Ambleside , I think personally, that was the only time I felt a bit battered by things. I didn’t enjoy witnessing others being so viciously effected by the heat, in times like that I felt helpless, attempted to do what I could , offering words of encouragement ,but on the big L100 stage we all fight our own personal battle’s and kind words may be nice but you have to be self driven and your chance of completing is dictated to by your own inner determination.    

Two very Happy L100 Finishers

Two very Happy L100 Finishers

          Many people will be considering stepping up to the 100 from the 50, not sure if its 55 miles too far. I am not experienced enough to give any advice on that and it’s going to be something someone really wants to do, only we know that. It is a commitment in time and planning and I wouldn’t be put off by not getting round on the first or second attempt, what I will say is , it is such an amazing experience / event and a pleasure to be involved with . Good Luck all in 2015.