No rain and free socks... a successful weekend!

Last weekend was the Lakeland 100. After a disappointing Pudsey 10k I wasn't sure I was going to have a good run, I'm finding it very hard to tell how fit I am at the moment so every race is a bit of a mystery!

Anyway, I was looking forward to L100, it's a fantastic race. The combined L100 and L50 had over 600 entries this year, with 224 of us attempting the 105 (!) miler.

After a briefing with the race organisers and some inspirational words from Joss Naylor we started at 5:30pm on Friday, off into a pretty warm evening. From Coniston we set off up Walna Scar Road, and the pace was pretty high. Everyone knows that this happens in every race and that hanging back and moving through the field later is the sensible thing to do, but of course I didn't do this. You can see me somewhere in this picture as we make our way up out of Coniston...

The first leg was 7 miles to Seathwaite and it was good to finally be going, and to have a chat to Adam Perry and a few other guys. After doing 29:44 last year I decided to set off on a 27 hour schedule this year and see what happened. Quickly through Seathwaite and on to CP2 at Boot - midway through this section is a very boggy part, I was feeling a little unwell and wondered if I had gone off too fast again. To catch a long story short I rejoined the stream of runners a bit lower down the field, probably about 20th.

The next two legs (Boot - Wasdale - Buttermere) included about 1000m of ascent. Up to now it had been warm and we had seen some spectacular views, particularly up to Wasdale head and on to Black Sail Pass. My stomach was still not too happy, but I was eating well so all ok. By the time I arrived in Buttermere at 11pm I was about 15 mins up on schedule, and in a group of 8 with 6 runners in front. Here we saw last year's winner Stuart Mills, who was supporting the race this year. He was very positive and encouraging and it was good to see him a few times on Friday night and again on Saturday afternoon.

At Buttermere checkpoint a few of us tried to escape quickly and reduce the group of eight. After a while I think there were four of us (it was dark now!), and we pootled on to Braithwaite. I can't really remember much of this leg, but after Braithwaite we set off on a section along the side of the A66. Here two guys made a "break" for it and headed off ahead of the rest of us, leaving myself and a South African guy called Jeff in 9th/10th. Jeff was running faster than me, but had to take his shoes off at each checkpoint, so we kept catching up with each other. When I met Jeff at the Blencathra checkpoint it was about 3am, not too long till daylight, and best of all this checkpoint had a big box full of socks to give away! I didn't want to change yet, but took a pair with me for later.

By now it was daylight, and I was pleased to be heading for the mid point checkpoint at Dalemain. This is actually a bit ahead of halfway at 59 miles. Here we had access to a bag we had sent on from the start, so I restocked my Haribo, had some pasta, ditched the big headtorch and put my free socks on... ready to go! So far so good, 13 hours 11 in and half an hour up on schedule.

The next thing I remember clearly is meeting Mum and Dad, my brother Ed and Karen and Si at the Howtown checkpoint. Jeff had gone on ahead now but I caught up with another runner just before the checkpoint. We set off together on the climb up towards High Kop, the highest point on the course at 670m, then on down towards Mardale Head. On the last descent to Haweswater I made a biiiiiiiig nav mistake and ended up bushwhacking through a lot of foliage. Eventually I got to Mardale Head checkpoint, through and on up to Gatesgarth Head. I'll keep this one short again as memory fails me... The Kentmere checkpoint  was a good one, I saw Mum, Dad and Ed again and there were smoothies too!

From Kentmere I felt really good again and enjoyed the run from CP12 to CP13. I had caught up with the guy I had been running with along this section and we arrived at the Lakesrunner shop in Ambleside together. This was another quality checkpoint with loads of food and encouraging people! Getting to the Ambleside checkpoint is always a great boost, with two checkpoints and 15 miles to go. I didn't stop too long as sitting down at this stage can mean you're there for a long time.

After Ambleside we set off towards Chapel Stile. On the way out through Rothay Park the guy in front pushed on and got a hundred metres or so gap on me, so I had pretty much settled myself for 11th place. I ran all the section along the edge of the river into Elterwater village, but definately didn't feel as good as I did along this section last year. Past  the Wainwright Inn I got a good boost from the people cheering and headed up to the checkpoint. Not too long now... However, the section to Tilberthwaite is a tough one.

The penultimate leg of this race has always seemed very convoluted to me, as if it goes round in a big circle for the sake of it. It wasn't all that bad this year though, partly due to the weather and how I was feeling, but also as I started to see a couple of guys in the distance on longer sections. I didn't rush to overtake them but stayed behind for a while until I was confident of the nav to the next checkpoint, then went past them. They were still moving ok so I would have to work to stay ahead! On the final part of the leg into Tilberthwaite I was convinced I had done a typical me and gone the wrong way at a critical moment, but in the end I got to the final CP.

3.5 miles to go, up a short sharp climb then down a long descent. As I left the checkpoint the staff told me they could see people catching up behind me so I pushed on up the steps to try to stay ahead. However I had drank too much coffee at the checkpoint and felt sick all the way up. Eventually I reached the flatter section at the top and decided to stop looking behind me and just run as fast as I could to the finish, it would either work or I would be overtaken but either way I looked on for a good PB!

Along the narrow track by Crook Beck, over the summit, down the twisty track opposite where we went up last night, onto the main track, over Miners Bridge, down the road and into the finish.

I didn't get caught on the last leg, so finished in 8th place in 25 hours 24 mins. Of the 224 starters there were 116 finishers, with Terry Conway winning in a record-breaking 21:58. Second place was Andy Mouncey in 24:07, and joint third 7 minutes later.

Ultrarunning is getting faster all the time... Yes the weather was better, but this year the winning time was over two hours quicker than last year, and even my time would have got me 2nd last year. Everyone is getting quicker, I just need to make sure I get quicker quicker than everyone else!


PS - If anyone has read this far, thanks! Sorry for the lack of pictures, and apologies to SportSunday for borrowing theirs. Please let me know if you would like me to move it, and when there is a good one of me I will give you money.


  1. Stuart - great effort! I checked on the live updates a couple of times and spotted you were doing well. You're right about times getting quicker, I think there's even more time to be taken off Terry Conway's record.

    I'm up in the Lakes doing a BG (after the last attempt was washed/blown away - I never have much luck with the weather!) a week on Friday(midnight start)/Saturday. If you're about and fancy a run let me know...

  2. Hi Stuart well done on a fine run. Wanted to say hello after the race, having recognised you from the blog but never got the chance. Hopefully we will both be back next year for another crack at the course and I'll say hi then. Good luck with the rest of the years racing

    All the best
    Paul T


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