This was a challenge that Dave had heard about in his marshalling of the ‘Dragon’s Back Ultra’ and he managed to convince me to enter with him, as it was shorter than 50 miles(a day) and very relaxed.
I can confirm that it was both those things, but so much more. My training had not really gone to plan post Lakes in a Day (fallen off a cliff edge), and the USP of GL3D is that you can choose the course on the day, which meant in my head I had a get out of jail free card. They also transport your camping gear, allowing you to run with just the mandatory kit.
We had had a few mountain days where Dave had tested my navigation and route-planning by setting me challenges to practice the ‘orienteering’ aspect of the event. I was to find that invaluable due to the weather that came in at the end of day 1 and persisted into day 2. We also decided that the lightweight nominal 2 person tent wasn’t really going to be big enough, so used a larger 2-person tent we already had.
Each day has 4 routes and sets of checkpoints that give varying degrees of distance and elevation, with the final day being generally shorter and flatter than the first two, to allow an earlier finish.
· Café – 60km and 3,000m of elevation
· Wainwright [short] – 80km and 4,500m of elevation
· Wainwright [long] – 100km and 6,000m of elevation
· Expert – 120km and 7,500m of elevation
Dave and I arrived at the start point after a lovely meal on the Friday with my Mum and brother and our registration was dealt with swiftly, meaning our packed kit bags (mandatory size and max weight) were deposited, safety tracker attached to running packs(with mandatory safety kit) and we got our map to look at ready for the next days’ adventures. We returned to mum’s figuring that we could get a better night’s sleep there and despite a 30 minute drive in the morning we would save by not having to pack the tent and deposit our ‘camp bag’ then. Also we had noticed in the final briefing that dogs were welcome for the event and even got a 5kg allowance (We decided that might me taking the mick as Willow is only a shade over 5kg when wet!)
After some faffing and planning the ‘best route’ for day 1 we finally got to bed for 11pm ready for an early start. We both decided to start with the Wainwright Long and see how we went.
The morning was clear and we woke up and were out of the house by the allotted time, ready to tuck into the breakfast Dave had pre-ordered. Driving along the side of Thirlmere Dave swore and said – “Gosh darn, all our cutlery and plates are packed!” We pressed on and turned into Keswick to see if we could find some early on a Saturday morning, the Gods were smiling on us and a service station that was just opened meant we had a hot coffee and buttie to go.
All that was left was to arrive on the start line, punch the clock and the event began! There was a fair crowd going up to the first checkpoint and Dave kindly ran with me, so we chatted and stayed together up to just below the summit of Sail, where I could see DM was chomping at the bit, so said I would see him at the end of the day. There were various route options to Hindscarth, but all of them involved losing quite a bit of height. It was possible to see the view of the days finish at Buttermere, with the camp set up. All the courses coalesced around lunchtime at the Honister Mine Cafe, and I spent 40 minutes getting food and water, which was to prove costly as the day went on, but competitors were happy to dogsit and I gave them tea and cake in recompense.
The trod up to Great Gable started fairly easily, but mist descended, and despite having a gpx file on my watch, a compass was needed to check the descent, which was clagged in. I started down the scree slope, managing Willow, who sensibly stayed above me, and I tried to avoid sending rocks down on my own ankles. I have never liked Great Gable, and I am no more enamoured of it now. The mist made navigation more difficult, but I reckoned I had enough time to make the cut-off at Kirk Fell, which I did – but there was still Haystacks CP and another CP to find, in the mist.
Haystacks is reputed to be ‘Wainwright’s favourite place’, and where his ashes are scattered, all I can say is that in the mist and rain its charms were lost to me. One more CP to go and the downward run to the end. I reached where I thought the CP should be, but no sight, of it and I spent a good 1/2 hour searching around, before giving it up as a bad job and descending to the finish with under an hour to go before the course closed and about 2km to cover. On my way down I found the final CP and Willow and I had a relatively easy canter to the end, with me thinking…. I wonder how I’ll find Dave.
He was there at the finish, as I’d forgotten that although he had the tent in his bag, all the food and cooking items were in mine! As he generously looked after the nutrition side whilst Willow and I sorted ourselves out he said, “Did you get my text?”
“Did you come down the front of Great Gable?”
“How was it?”
Dave also pointed out that the tent, (which had seen 25+ years of service) had a ‘bit’ of damage, ie Sun and rain had taken it’s toll, and as I slid inside I noticed that he’d put our cooking pots to collect the drips. We were quite glad of our mandatory bivi bags that night.
The camp was set up so that there was a token for a free piece of cake and a hot drink, and another for a beer at the end of each day. There was also hot water in abundance for dried meals. We made it to the beer tent at about 9pm, to study the map for the next day. I decided that I would shift to the Short Course and started looking at possible routes. At 10 we went to get some water for a bedtime brew… Dave “Do you know where the tent is?”
“Yes, I’ll get the water and see you there” I said with a degree of confidence that was entirely mis-placed…
40 minutes of looking in the dark for a tent in approximately the right area, but I couldn’t remember if it was green or grey….
I went back to the beer tent that was now deserted and wondered how warm I would be snuggled up in the bean bags in there…
I thought I’ll give it once last try, and Dave deciding that I had perhaps had a large degree of mis-placed confidence had fortunately come to find me. No one else was moving.
The next day I started slightly after Dave, after getting a welcome latte from the on-site caravan, the mist was still there and the rain, so the day started with full waterproofs. A trot back along the track I had come down the night before was the most obvious and then the trigpoint at Brandreth, it was navigating in poor visibility and I dutifully used my compass to measure the distance, took a bearing and kept not quite hitting the features I thought I should. It took me a few bearings to realise that I was measuring using a 1:50,000 rather than 1:40,000 scale.
I decided that given the weather conditions it was probably easier to drop into the valley at Black Sail and join the C2C path, rather than spending a day in the clouds. Willow and I started running along, and I thought that to make it a ‘nicer’ route, we use one of the exit points and ‘contour round’ the edge of the inbounds area, as the C2C was a gravelled track, and I was worried about her paws. I know from previous experience that traversing along boundaries is seldom easy, and the time I took to cover 4km was ages. I found myself pushing to make the cut-off at red pike, and was about 30 minutes adrift, so headed back to the finish along the banks of Buttermere – which was delightful. I finished again about 1/2 hour before the course cut-off. I had some lovely views and really enjoyed the trot along Buttermere and the support from all the team on the final run in was immense and the evening had turned into a fine one. There was a mandatory kit check at the end – which I passed, as I was still wearing most of it – but there were a lot of DQ’s due to not having full kit. Beer and pork scratchings on completion with a brilliant sunset was a perfect end to the day.
For the final day I had already decided that I would do the ‘Easier’ cafe course route, (which on still had 1000m of elevation.) Our start window was later than Dave’s so once the course opened it was straight up to Robinson’s, down to Little Town and up to Barrow.
On the way up my phone pinged with incoming messages, including a voicemail from Dave, I duly listened to it and realised it was the advice I needed two days before about not coming down the face of Gable! I met some folk, who were local and also had a terrier in tow and ran/walked with them. They were route setters and fell-runners, and the final day took in part of a route of a fell race they marked so I continued with them. They dived off for a wee, so I continued on and caught up with some Dutch runners. The climb up Barrow was relatively benign and the route off it was a delightful runable gradient down, pretty much all the way.
In the final field before I reached the underpass back to the start point I heard a ‘Sue’ and coming in from the left was Dave, so we were able to cross the finish line together.
I had a fantastic three days and would definitely recommend this event, you can choose your own level of challenge each day and the organisation was fantastic, ability to read a map and use a compass, is however, crucial. It improved my confidence no end. As an add in the lack of mobile signal was refreshing…
Willow and I : 84km and 6180m Dave: 101km and 7,358m ascent
I’ve run 3 Tokyo marathons at 3:52, 3:44, 3:43 and last time was in Dublin at 3:40.
The Manchester marathon was the first time since Dublin 2015 and I haven’t been a good runner for the last 5 years so I was a bit nervous if I could run such a long distance and beat my previous PB, however as I already paid so I had to start training.
I had a chat with Clive at the club and he decided to run his first full marathon with me. Chris was also planning to run Boston at the same season as us and we planned some long distance training together.
I’ve achieved only 65% of the original training plan due to work/family/tiredness/mood.
However additional circuit training, off- road races and 20miles races gave me strength during the 16 weeks training period.
On the race day, start was very smooth and people ran reasonably speedy but Clive and I tried to stick with the plan, we have learnt from the 20 miles races that we tend to run over paced by exciting atmosphere. Our pace was average 8:20/M. But suddenly Clive’s watch became very chatty and repeatedly telling us wrong pace at 5:00/M! So I trusted my watch and Clive’s written pacing memo.
Half point: 1:49:46.
I started to feel on my legs but still managed at consistent pace. But just before 20 miles my watch stopped!! Both of us lost reliable tools to know our time/pace, and after 20 miles a few people around us stopped or walked due to cramped legs. However I just avoid feeling/seeing anything as if I was in a shell, wearing sunglasses worked well for that. I knew my body would react in a bad way if I felt something.
Big brother Clive became my son at this stage.
Last 1 mile was the hardest, it’s nearly there and it gave me more pressure and I came out from the shell and started feeling very miserable. My face was like a gorilla. Probably Clive’s even worse! We crossed the finish line finally.
Jon has finished ONLY 2 minutes before us and was waiting there. We didn’t know our results due to the watch issues.
Official result is 3:40:45.
My previous PB was 3:40:47 (2015)
2 seconds improved!
Full marathon including training is hard but sharing the same experience with mates gave me extra power.
Yuka’s pace against the average for the race.
Yuka in full flow.
It’s the green light for go, but I don’t have a clue what mile we are on. I’m sure it’s written down here somewhere…..Help me Yuka!
Clive, Yuka and Chris in a practice race for their respective marathons.
For those that don’t know me, I started running in April 2020 during the first lockdown, mainly to lose weight to reduce the health risk should covid strike (it hasn’t yet). At first, I couldn’t run 3km without having to stop half-way and walk a bit. As the running got easier, further and faster, I found I was really enjoying it. Just over a year later, and 3 stone lighter, I joined Corsham Running Club. I entered the Manchester marathon in April 2022 (my first, and so far, my only marathon) having been told a few people from the club were planning to run it. At that point I only had a vague notion of what I was signing up for, particularly the amount of training required.
I started training in mid-November last year, broadly following a plan spat out by a spreadsheet Chris Hunt gave me based on the “Advanced Marathoning” book written by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas (I couldn’t find the “Rank Amateur Marathoning” edition).
I stayed as close to the plan as a full-time job and life allowed, using club sessions as a proxy for some of the planned, faster runs. The plan called for one to two long runs most weeks and I was fortunate to have Yuka (who also ran Manchester) and Chris (who was running Boston two weeks later) to run with on some of those longer runs. As race day got nearer, we used two local 20-mile races as long run/tester runs. These confirmed to me that I could hit around the 3:40 mark that I was chasing in Manchester. The training was hard and needed real commitment, although teaming up with my friends made it a fun and rewarding experience. From mid-November to the day of the race I ran over 850 miles in training (my wife said I was getting obsessive, so I told her this was a “one-off”). I went into the marathon with a 1:39 HM PB achieved at the end of February and 2:48 for 20 miles, feeling that I had put the requisite effort in and with a reasonable level of confidence. I was however, wondering how I would cope with the unknown of the last 6 miles, never having run further than 20 miles.
The race in Manchester is well organised and the course flatish (although not as flat as I was expecting), through built-up areas on wide, closed roads. As this was my first marathon, it’s difficult to judge its relative merits. Suffice to say it seemed well organised, the pre-race information was great, the organization on the day ok for an event of this size and the toilet and bag drop queues fine. The support on the course was excellent and you never were running without somebody cheering and clapping from the pavement. My only gripe is that the pacers were few and far between (at 15-minute intervals) and didn’t seem to logically align with the wave you were running in. We paced ourselves, and did ok with this, although had to wrestle with “watch issues”; at one point I fell back onto a pre-prepared piece of paper.
I had been told, but didn’t fully believe, that the race only begins at twenty miles and at twenty miles I was still feeling ok. Then with about four to five miles to go, I was suddenly hit by a tsunami of fatigue and voices in my head telling me to slow down and jog in (“you’d still be under 4:00” ….). From that point on the race was more a mental than a physical thing for me – my breathing was fine, my muscles and joints felt ok except for a pain in the lower back (which I figured wasn’t going to stop me running) yet the urge to stop/slow-down was incredibly strong. I managed to win the mind over matter battle (“don’t throw away 4 month’s work for 40 minutes of pain” ….), though it does take a lot of mental strength. I got into a state of mind of just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and keeping previous pace. I was also conscious that alongside me, Yuka still was running strongly, and I thought if I stopped or slowed, she would too, if only to see what was going on, and I didn’t want to let her down or compromise her race. That provided an additional impetus.
Having trained, focused, and anticipated this race for so long it’s perhaps odd to say that the finish line can’t come a moment too soon, but it can’t. The time of 3:40:45 was under my 3:45 minimum target and I’m told you can say you’re a 3:40 marathon runner with a 3:40:45 so I will take that. We more-or-less even split, two 1:50 half marathons, and despite the physical and mental struggle I was going through in the latter stages, were reeling people in during the second half of the race. The relative pace chart (below) tells a nice story. Could I have gone faster? Maybe yes, although only if I had been faster at mile 20; after mile 20 I completely emptied the tank. There was nothing left by the finish, and I was wobbling like Bambi.
I now know that a marathon does start at twenty miles, and I also now know what to expect in those last few miles. I’ve been told you can’t train for those last few miles. However, I am trying to find specific training for this aspect of the marathon, so any advice is most welcome. I will also be working on nutrition in the days immediately before the next race as well as during it, as I think this could have been better. Given the watch issue, I’ve already invested in a more fit-for-purpose watch.
You may already have inferred from this write-up that the race venue seems irrelevant. I’ve hardly mentioned Manchester or the course. At least, that was my takeaway. The overall experience, including the training, is about so much more. Having said that about the venue though, I’ve allowed myself to be talked into targeting Valencia in December as it sounds great. All I need to do now is to find a way to tell my wife.
Clive and Yuka sprinting to the finish of the Manchester Marathon.
I am happily shuffling through the gates of Cartmel Priory School at quarter to midnight on a damp Saturday in October. The day’s journey had started fifty miles north on the other side of the Lake District outside the Oddfellows Arms in Caldbeck. It had been a long school run.
When I found out about Lakes in a Day some forus years ago its route immediately caught my attention. Tracing a natural line from the northern boundary of Lake District Park to its southern one, it was a run of two halves: the first from Caldbeck to Ambleside on the high fells; the second on lower lying undulating trails to the west of Lake Windermere and ending in Cartmel. However, prevarication on my part about being able to complete the distance and elevation (50 miles and nearly 13,000 feet respectively) and then covid-19, delayed an attempt until October this year. Key to committing had been Sue’s decision and enthusiasm to join me in the adventure.
We had both prepared extensively over the past couple of years, increasing our running volume steadily and really enjoying some long, hilly days locally, and further afield in South Wales and the Lake District. Lakes in a Day was still considerably longer and hillier than anything we had completed before; neither of us were experienced “ultra runners”. The vagaries of October weather in the Lakes brought a further degree of uncertainty in outcome and added to the event’s attraction/challenge.
As we joined an excited group of 409 like-minded souls for a ominously cloudy sunrise start in Caldbeck, the confidence from our preparation overcame the trepidation and we were able to relax and look forward to the journey ahead.
Ready for the 8am start in Caldbeck
Energised by a hearty Cumberland sausage bap and friendly pre-start chat we were soon on our way to the first significant climb of the day; the 658m summit of High Pike. Sue and I were running independently. We went our separate ways and found our respective place in the long conga line of runners that were now spread up the fell-side and were gradually being swallowed up by the low cloud enveloping the tops; it was not going to be a day of expansive Lake District views.
The long conga line climb up to the day’s first top, High Pike.
After a long, steady climb to warm up the legs and lungs, High Pike’s summit trig point was quickly passed. The wind blown, moist cloud gave no incentive to linger. The first downhill of the day provided a welcome opportunity to stretch the legs, and also further fragmented the field of runners. In combination with the reduced visibility of around 50-100m, closer attention therefore had to be paid to navigation as there was often no one in sight to follow! The going was a bit rough and/or boggy in places but generally runnable. In what felt like no time at all, the previous height gain was quickly lost as we dropped down a narrow heather-lined trod to ford the River Caldew. In previous wetter years the river has provided runners with waist high wading through fast flowing water or required the erection of a temporary bridge; thankfully our crossing topped out at knee moistening height.
Happy but damp having forded the River Caldew without any drama.
Wet feet remained that way as the route squelched upwards over the boggy ground of Mungrisdale Common (a fell that Mr Lake District, Alfred Wainwright, had no liking for, commenting that it “has no more pretension to elegance than a pudding that has been sat on”). As the pudding firmed up and steepened towards the 868m top of Blencathra, I trusted reconnaissance undertaken in clearer weather and broke off from the main path to follow a trod that traversed round a false summit and saved a few metres of ascent. The welcome ringing of cowbells subsequently heralded Blencathra’s summit and the immediate steep, direct line descent of Hall’s Fell Ridge to the first aid station in the village of Threlkeld.
Emerging from the clag of Hall’s Fell Ridge on to easier going.
Hall’s Fell Ridge provides a spectacular and exposed rocky crest to the top of Blencathra and is best enjoyed in ascent on a clear, dry day. On a dreich day in skiddy running shoes on slippery rock, tackling it in descent certainly concentrated the mind. Marshals provided direction and assurance at key points but getting down the rocky sections seemed to take an age and involve a good amount of bum sliding with the odd moment of unplanned excitement. In reality the challenges were short lived and a runnable path was soon reached; it swiftly led down out of the drizzly clag and generated a healthy burn in my quads.
Having been isolated in the cloud for a couple of hours, Threlkeld provided a welcome expansion of the senses with a great crowd of supporters, including Sue’s brother Keith, and a good selection of food in the village hall. Having somehow misplaced my glasses on the one-way route through the veritable feast of tasty treats I had to go around again to find them (and another danish pastry) before continuing the long journey south with just under 40 miles remaining.
A few miles of relatively flat road and firm packed trail provided opportunity for the quads to recover and prepare for grinding back up into the cloud and the long, high ridge of the Helvellyn and Fairfield fells that stretched all the way to Ambleside, some fifteen miles distant.
The imposing bastion of Clough Head was tackled by a long, stiff climb that satisfyingly worked its way up and through some steep and rocky ground to top out at the summit trig point. There it became immediately apparent that weather conditions at altitude had deteriorated in line with the forecast, with a waterproof top and gloves being required to maintain warmth and morale. Despite the weather’s best efforts the broad elevated rolling ridge heading towards Helvellyn provided delightful and rewarding scampering on the downhills, interspersed with relatively short climbs that were taken at walking pace and provided opportunity to drink or eat. Of all the Lakes in a Day route, I was most familiar with this section. With good tracks in the main and gpx to follow on the watch, navigation was not therefore too much of a worry but still had to be closely watched given the very poor visibility and spread out field of runners, which meant I was predominantly moving in my own company most of the way. Other than a brief stop to pull on waterproof trousers, gentle momentum and adequate warmth was maintained all the way to the highest point of the day, Helvellyn, which was reached in just over 6 hours; a Delushious sour cherry tiffin was the taste-tastic, Box-manufactured, high calorie reward.
All that now lay between Helvellyn and the next aid station in Ambleside was the mildly inconvenient loss of just under 1000 feet of height to drop down to Grisedale Tarn before re-ascending much the same height in short order to reach the day’s last high summit, Fairfield. Thankfully the legs were still in good uphill order and, with the assistance of poles, made what felt like short work of the ascent; passing a few other runners also provided opportunity for some banter and further charged morale batteries.
The route on from Fairfield’s much cairned, rocky and indistinct summit provides opportunity for navigational blundering in reduced visibility. Having blundered a bit in the past up here I was wise to the risk and with concentration navigated the route to Hart Crag and onwards to a large southwards running wall, which provided a guiding handrail down to lower ground. Once there I could relax a little and enjoy the downhill run into Ambleside. The fun factor was further enhanced by my brother and nephew materialising out of the mist at various points along the descent to offer encouragement to me and the other runners. They also got to see me buffoon my way slowly and inelegantly down the last rocky obstacle on the ridge, blithely ignoring the way I had previously, and competently, gone on two previous reconnaissance of this section. That, and seeing a couple of runners take nasty tumbles on wet, slippery rock, reminded me that there was still a way to go and no room for complacency.
Running into the familiar embrace of Ambleside with the hard half of the day done after just over nine hours of effort in poor weather, and without too much faff and still feeling in reasonable fettle, was a fantastic feeling. Also fantastic was my brother confirming that Sue had comfortably beaten the 5:30pm cut-off time at Grisedale Tarn and was over the day’s final big hump, Fairfield, so would be into Ambleside by nightfall (and gave him the impetus to push on – Sue).
The joy of aid stations.
A change into dry shoes, socks & top, followed by hot pizza, pasta & tea whilst chatting to my brother and nephew, plus more support from Keith, mother-in-law and our dog Willow, meant I headed into the dusk and the second half of Lakes in a Day in high spirits and confident I could extend the enjoyment for a bit yet…
The ebbing daylight and continuing drizzle gave reason to press on over the runnable road and cycle path that led to the woods and low fells that characterised the second half of the Lakes in a Day route, which ran near to, or along, the west shore of Lake Windermere for the next 13 miles. Navigation was also made much easier by very effective, highly visible reflective arrows that were deployed at key points along the route.
I was now running into unknown territory distance wise and pleasantly surprised to be moving without too much difficulty or effort. Darkness, with torch light reflecting off water and mizzle, the occasional hooting Tawny Owl and only having to concentrate on the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other further enhanced the experience and gave a peaceful sense of contentment.
In what seemed like no time at all, but in reality had been over a couple of hours, I reached a familiar section of open low fell scattered with tarns crossed by a good runnable track that led down to Near Sawrey, home to Beatrix Potter at High Top Farm. From there a mile section of road led to the shore of Lake Windermere; eminently runnable terrain it was now requiring increased effort and willpower to manage much more than a shuffle. Heavy rain had topped up Lake Windermere in the preceding days such that sections of the shoreside path were now under water; with no alternative route the dry shoes and socks that had provided so much pleasure at Ambleside became a distant memory. The bright lights of civilization, well Bowness anyway, glinting across Windermere from its eastern shore provided a welcome distraction to the damp going underfoot.
My gps watch battery had by now run out of battery and I was enjoying running to feel; slowly jogging any flat or downhill, and walking even the slightest uphill. Whilst the second half of Lakes in a Day was nowhere near as hilly as the first, it still had around 3000ft of elevation to contend with.
Fatigue was starting to make its presence felt and in combination with some more technical rocky sections, including a stiff, awkward climb away from Lake Windermere’s shoreline, forward momentum stalled a little. However, having been alone for much of the way from Ambleside I now found myself in company for the remainder of the run into the final aid station at Finsthwaite village hall. That thankfully provided sufficient to overcome the slight wobble, and we were soon trotting along a well graded trail that led past the lovely High Dam and down into the village.
Finsthwaite Village Hall was a beacon of bustle and business after the past few hours of peaceful nocturnal bimbling from Ambleside. The volunteers throughout the event had been brilliant and the final aid station was no exception. There was a cornucopia of food and drink on offer, all served up by hugely enthusiastic and supportive folk; just the ticket at 9pm on a Friday evening after a long day in moist fresh air. The cheese on toast was a tempting offer but the stomach rebelled at the thought; a mighty fine mix of cold rice pudding, custard and tinned peaches washed down with a brew proved much more acceptable.
As grand as Finsthwiate was, I was in no mood to linger and headed off onto the final leg to Cartmel after the swiftest aid station stop so far. This was the one section of the Lakes in a Day route that I had not previously run or walked and I was delighted to be told as I left the aid station that the finish was only 7 miles distant. I also had the company of a few other runners, which helped ensure that we collectively kept on the right track and provided the benefit of chat to pass the time.
Sue had previously run the final leg into Cartmel and raved about how beautiful it was. Even with just torchlight that was certainly the case; what she had failed to mention or, much more likely, I had selectively failed to remember, was the gentle but long uphill section from Newby Bridge. However, morale was improved when I realised I had not been overtaken by any runners for a number of hours now and was starting to catch and move past others. I was certainly not running more quickly but just not slowing down as much as those I was passing. Most importantly I was still enjoying myself despite now knowing I would miss last orders in Cartmel.
With three miles left to go, much of it on quiet country lanes, I found myself running alone again, having been invigorated with the magic power that materialises when the end of a long run is in sight. Reflecting on the long day’s fun as I trundled into Cartmel, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. The long investment in training and preparation had paid off, allowing the simplicity of a challenging journey down the beautiful length of the Lake District National Park to be relished and enjoyed, which was just a marvellous feeling of satisfaction that has deepened with time.
PS: Sue had an equally grand time completing Lakes in a Day, finishing with a beaming smile and looking as if she had more miles in the tank…
PPS: Huge thanks to:
the event organisers, Outdoor Adventure, and their merry band of brilliant helpers for providing a superbly organised, safe and memorable event over a fantastic route;
Keith, Viv, Rich and Hugh for support on route; and
all those folk who supported, encouraged and helped our preparation for the event in some shape or form, specifically Corsham Running Club, Keith and Viv Burlison, Andrew Wood, Jane Clarke, Craig Rumble, Annika Davidson, Stewart Unsworth, Precision Pilates and Anna Gardiner at the Treatment Rooms.
Job done and very, very happy!
Race Tracking Data (Event GPS trackers had to be carried throughout):
409 starters/351 finishers, Dave 161st and Sue 285th.
Notes on Training, Equipment and Nutrition
Our training for Lakes in Day was based around a plan form Krissy Moehl’s “Running Your First Ultra” book. The training was a considerable investment in time & effort over many months but absolutely worth it for the results on the day. The book itself contains lots of other really helpful advice for running your first ultra and is recommended. Sue and I will use it again to prepare for our 2022 long distance adventure, the Silva Great Lakeland 3 Day.
The following is for dap lovers and gear geeks only!
Lakes in a Day Kit
Daps. Two Pairs of Scott Supertrac Ultra RC Trail Running Shoes. The second pair, which I changed into at Ambleside, were half a size bigger and pretty much new out the box. Both pairs were very comfortable throughout on terrain varying from bog to tarmac. Care was required on wet rock to avoid slipping but that is true of pretty much any studded shoe in my experience. Sue also changed into Scott Supertrac Ultra RC Trail Running Shoes at Ambleside, having run from Caldbeck in Inov-8 Women’s X-Talon Ultra 260, which she rated very highly for grip and comfort over the fells.
Socks. Just before Lakes in Day I bought a couple of pairs of Drymax Trail Running Socks, which was a bit of a risk. However, they lived up to the positive reviews; they were warm and comfortable, even when sodden. I finished with no blisters and no damaged toenails, which was a surprise given the length of the run and the terrain covered.
Top Half: “Old School” Helly Hansen Lifa long sleeved thermal top until Ambleside. There I changed into an Invo-8 merino wool t-shirt, which was nice but unnecessary tbh. Over the top I wore a very lightweight and ventilated Salomon S-Lab windproof jacket, which is my most used item of running kit. This was replaced by a hooded Minimus Stretch Ultra Waterproof Running Jacket between Dale Head and Ambleside to keep the wet and windy weather out; an ace bit of kit. I also put on a thin pair of merino wool gloves for that section and wore a cheap, non-branded peaked cap to keep rain off my glasses. Face mask that had to be worn inside at aid stations.
Bottom Half: Inov-8 three quarter length tights with Runderwear briefs underneath. Decathlon waterproof trail running trousers were worn between from just before Helvellyn until Ambleside.
Other Kit Used:
Torch. Petzl Nao+ Headlight; expensive but brilliant adaptive illumination for nighttime running.
Watch. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus; used for navigation until it ran out of battery juice after around 12 hours use; I wore a Casio digital watch on the other wrist to avoid fiddling about with the Garmin to change screens to get the time. Sue used a Coros GPS watch and had stacks of battery life.
Rucksack. I used a Terra Nova 25 litre running rucksack rather than a race vest. This provided plenty of room for mandatory equipment and food/drink and as there was plenty of room it meant I could easily pull stuff in and out without unpacking the whole thing. Kit was stored in a variety of different coloured dry bags within the rucksack.
Poles. Mountain King Trail Blaze used throughout.
iPhone with OS Maps for navigation reassurance.
Bottles / Cup: 2 x 500ml Soft Flasks and 1 x Harrier Ultra Cup (550ml and collapsible).
Event GPS tracker
Other kit that was carried but not used on the day:
Alpkit Heko Primaloft Insulated Jacket
Inov-8 AT/C MERINO LSZ hooded top as spare base layer
Montane Prism Primaloft Insulated Mittens
Thermal Balaclava & Merino Buff
OMM Waterproof Kamleika Running Over-mittens
Compressport calf guards
Paper Map and Compass
Battery back-up for iPhone & Garmin Watch
Emergency back-up mobile phone
Spare torch (Petzl Tikkina Headlight)
Emergency Bivvy Bag
Spare face mask
I carried enough nutrition to provide around 200-250 calories per hour augmented by whatever I ate at aid stations. I split the nutrition across the four stages of the Lakes in a Day route and put each in a separate labelled bag. At each aid station I simply pulled out the relevant bag out of the back of my rucksack and loaded the gels etc. into pockets on the front of the rucksack so I could fuel “on-the-go” over the subsequent leg without any faff
16 gels – mix of Mountain Fuel and Science in Sport (SiS), including some that were caffeinated. All but a couple were consumed.
3 x Delushious Sour Cherry Tiffin Bars – based locally in Box and providing an indulgent, taste-tastic and calorific morale boost. All consumed with relish!
3 x Clif “Nut Butter Bar” Chocolate & Peanut Butter Energy Bars. Only managed one of these; just too dry in the mouth to get down on the move.
3 x Tailwind Nutrition Stickpacks – Caffeinated Colorado Cola Drink Powder. All used
3 x Mountain Fuel Xtreme Energy Fuel Drink Sachets (neutral flavour). Two used.
I raced the above on Sunday 13th March, my first race since March 2020 so I was apprehensive as I’d no idea where I was in terms of speed. During lockdown I’ve barely done anything as we got a rescue dog and I’ve concentrated on helping him settle in – though I have to say I reckon the dog walks have helped keep my fitness in relative check.
I have been marathon training the last few weeks as I was talked into doing Blackpool marathon in April, so I’ve been trying to play catchup. My training runs have been a disappointment to me personally, I’ve struggled with most of them and have simply not enjoyed the training this time.
Unsurprisingly, I was very apprehensive ahead of the race but lined up between the 75 and 80-minute pacers, thinking I should manage that. Mile one was a little congested and uphill but probably served me well, stopped me going off too fast. Miles 2 to 5 were a dream, having overtaken the ladies around me and it being flat and relatively wind-free. By mile 6 I knew I was racing and by mile 7 it was starting to get a bit hard. The 75-minute pacer ran ahead and as we started to climb, I wasn’t able to stick with him. Not only were we climbing but there was a headwind to deal with (which seemed to stay with me for the rest of the race, as I continued to race alone). The 75-minute pacer was nowhere to be seen by this point. I was running on my own and starting to struggle and died when I had to go up and over a railway bridge. At the end of mile 9 was a muddy section not suited to road shoes but with no one around me, I was able to slow a little and stay upright. Thereafter, it was downhill through a housing estate to a trail path and then round to the finish. I did hear footsteps behind me but when I glanced it was a male and I was very thankful, as I didn’t have anything left to “race” to the finish had it been a female (having said that, my last mile was 7.02). Anyway, I have no idea what the pacer was doing as I finished in 1.13.31 (he came in around 1.12), 6th lady and 3rd V50 (impressively the first two ladies were V50). It’s nowhere near a PB but given the circumstances, I was very happy.
I Really enjoyed NtCCC – it was a welcome distraction at a time when there has been scant else to do. I completed all but one of the challenges, but these were my favourites – or at least the ones I put most thought/effort into.
Stewart Unsworth will be proud of me – I studied the rules in detail and I think I found an exploitable loophole to beat the handicapper. There is nothing that explicitly says you have to run the same route twice – just don’t cheat because Father Christmas and the cabal know. To maximise the % increase between the 1st and 2nd runs while giving 100% in both, I needed to make the 1st one harder and the 2nd one easier.
For the 1st 5K I picked an undulating local 5K loop that I have run hundreds of time, only there was poor visibility, freezing fog, icy pavements, slippy leaves, I ran on tired legs and had low energy due to consuming less than 2k calories per day on a crash diet during the month of November. Nov 26th run #1: 20m 42s
For the 2nd 5K I tried to reverse all the factors of the 1st. I jogged up to the flattest route I know in Corsham (along the ridge in Neston), the weather was cool, dry and calm, and my coach and best friend, Luke, joined me on his bike to shout encouragement and prevent me from slowing down in the 2nd half. I was very pleased with the improvement and my 2nd fastest legal* 5K ever. Jan 16th run #2: 18m 56s
That’s right folks, Heddington doesn’t actually count.
100M Vertical Dash
I spent quite a while surveying local hills for this part of the challenge – I needed something steep, on road, and 100m of elevation. Naish, down in Lacock, was a candidate, as was the hill out of Slaughterford up to Thickwood. But ultimately Tutton Hill up to Colerne was my favourite. It ticked all the boxes, and I used to own the CR, so there was added motivation to try and win it back! However, in the end I did some maths and calculated that I would be able to run up and down my stairs for a total of 100m faster than any outdoor activity.
So that’s what we did – 19 flights x 5.30 meters (it’s a town house). I sent coach Luke off first and he recorded a very respectable time of 5m 26s. This was a great marker but I was determined not to be beaten by an 8-year old. I double-stepped every ascent, then hobbled back down at half the speed on my fragile knees. Final time 5m 16s…but I only just noticed this one wasn’t actually a competition 🙁
Slaughterford Prediction Run
SF9 is my favourite race of the year and I am gutted it’s cancelled. I figured the best way to predict my time was to go hard. I initially planned to aim for 1h10m, but on the start line I had a crisis of confidence and down-graded to 1h13m. The course was in perfect condition – not too muddy, not too hard – and my friend Andy gave me something to chase up the hills. I didn’t push as hard as I would’ve done in a race, but it was definitely an uncomfortable effort. Predicted: 1h 13m Actual: 1h 11m 6s
The Castle Combe run on Christmas Eve was in no way a chore – fantastic morning with some friends, and the same goes for the New Year’s run! I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy Andrew’s strength session – I hate strength work! It was also a nice surprise to bump into Max and Mike on the Christmas Lights run!
I really enjoyed the NtCCC. Many thanks to the organisers.
We’re into our 2nd week back with sessions and there are plenty of chances for everyone to get running from returning to running if the last few months have been difficult to get out, up to the usual beasting with group A.We’ve been out for 320 runs, doing 1,612 miles and Paul Scotford ran the quiz at the Scoop Inn, with a round on cow breeds and another on cartoon dogs.Last weekend, 5 of our members took part in the virtual Masters 5K, where our ladies team of Laura Midwinter, Vicky Henderson and Alison Collins came 34th of 120 teams from across the country. Susan Mackie and Stuart Henderson were our other runners with Stuart going under 18 minutes.
Many of our members are continuing to support the Hilly Helmet Challenge and a group went out on Sunday (including two 11 year olds) and did the actual route, but as long as you do 4.25 miles and preferably with a hill then you can do it anywhere and it’s all for a good cause.
We’ve had 6 weeks of lockdown now but the members of CRC are still going.
We’re slightly down on miles this week but we’re up on activities and again we had 7 people managing a daily activity and some not-parkruns.
I would assume one of the main reasons the activity numbers are up is to do with the children of many of our members. The One Mile Club are attempting to run 1,000 miles cumulatively over 40 days and raise some money for NHS Charities, currently at £855.
As at Sunday lunchtime, the children had achieved 265 miles, which on a journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End would have them just past Pitlochry (The Gateway to the Highlands).
While some are continuing to run, others are using the time to enjoy some recuperation until we can meet again.
Consistency is key at the moment so the Thursday evening strengthening session with Jane C (and Milly) is proving ever popular and always followed by the gathering at the virtual Scoop Inn for a catch up chat and a drink of choice (BYOB)
And we have had a race this week (technically) as Gary Young completed the Virtual Great Bristol 10K. It looks like he’ll be pushing for the 50 minutes when regularly scheduled racing returns.
And finally, whether you are out running every day, or staying home and enjoying some down time, please look after yourselves, look after each other and reach out if you need some help. Keep sensible and keep healthy and we’ll all be back together again soon.
Leaving the deceptive calm at the heart of the small South Cotswold village of Biddestone, warm with Bath Stone cottages and the sunshine of an April morning, I ran west along a lane lined with the gardens of Spring, simmering in the fresh, liquid light and quiet of another day. The world holding its collective breath, suspended as under intensive care or isolation. The houses and their plots an idyll of an England that exists only in the nostalgia of our culture or the writings of Laurie Lee.
The lane I chose heads West climbing gently to reach a fork, one tine of which points South to the busy Bath Road. The other, “less travelled by” curves West through open fields of winter barley and spring wheat climbing gradually into the sky to look down from the Cotswold plateau onto the valley where Brunel forged his line to Bristol through rocks and woods to carve the great tunnel at Box. This part of the run is light and open, more sky than earth with views that gaze out to the gentle beauty of Bath basking in a soft, blue horizon and surrounded by the ancient countryside of Wiltshire and Somerset, a landscape far removed from the urban frenzy and crisis shaking our city hospitals and their weary staff.
The track soon descends, falling more steeply now into darkening woods and undergrowth, broken by the weight of farm machinery carving the wet winter ground into scars that pain the unwary and twist the ankles as you struggle for grip. Here the woods climb steeply on either side of a lonely trail. Birdsong dazzles like crystal, piercing the undergrowth, shattering the silent calm of a world waking to this new reality. It is as though nature has sensed the great change and the warm green of wild garlic and deeper colours of early bluebells consume a fresher air made free of fumes and fuels burnt in a world before the great virus stopped us in our tracks and made us think. The land to the South opens onto a grass covered meadow clinging to the valley sides and pierced by an ancient spring that bursts above open ground like a fresh wound and soaks into the bound and bandaged soil of the pasture, thirsty from weeks of dry skies even after the wet of winter.
The track climbs now steeply, though still wooded and bordered on either side by hazel, ash and oak. Trees still light and grey but showing the first signs of new life as though a signal of a younger time to come and the resilience of a world we lost sight of. We are as Hockney tells us part of nature and no more able to control it than to control the seasons that these trees root themselves in. The run here is hard, the severity of the path and roughness of the ground taking a toll on tired limbs, but it has a quality that only off road running and open, unspoilt places can bring. Clay and darkened woodland soils give way to limestone and sand where the trail turns part back upon itself and eases open through a gate to a meadow to the North and a gentle curve of ground with moss green and velvet grass covered fields above the Bye Brook, a brighter, cleaner arm of the River Avon as it rolls through lower lands on its journey to Bath, Bristol and beyond.
Here the run gets easier and as I begin to enjoy the extra air and energy that these gentle fields share, a pair of Little Egrets dance up into the light, lifting themselves in waves like paper on the breeze to settle and perch in the branches of an ancient oak. These exotic creatures are blown to us on the airs of climate change. Once foreign visitors they now frequent the creeks and rivers of the South, feeding in the margins of lakes and streams where once only herons held command. Their sword like bills stab at prey in the shallows and shadows of the wetlands and now in April they pair and plan the spread of their kind North into the wider lands of England and the West.
Running is special to all of us who, obsessed or trapped by its rhythms seek out the isolation and the special spaces to enjoy its sense of freedom, of accomplishment and above all in these strangest of times the health and vigour it endows upon the routine of our crowded lives. It is for me the ultimate in mindful escape. High intensity training demands an unlikely concentration but leaves space to think, to observe, to live in the moments when only the steady breathing deep within our core and the sounds and sights of the world around us invade our inner selves. It is a privilege and not, especially in these times, a right which health and happiness grant us. At this stage on the route I begin to think about this contrast and the freedom under lockdown I am gifted to enjoy in this serene and silent corner of the world. Stories of bigotry and envy fill the media as I recall reports of runners having things thrown at them or uncompromising ‘ordinary, decent people’ berate the panting and the sweating of runners who they say have no thought for their passing safety. I know many runners. Although as every class of person is drawn from and reflects the wider communities in which we live, they are by and large generous, open-minded people who value freedom, believe in a community of purpose and respect the world we live in.
Yet prejudice is a light sleeper, especially in this brittle Britain with its divisive politics and the toxic nature of its social media. But we do not run to dwell on the problems of the world, rather to navigate, and to gain respite from them.
Forced back into the challenge before me I take the right-hand track which splits here where a deserted farmhouse rests quietly in the flood plain of the river. Home only to barn owls and the scuttling of mice, its roof long gone but its stone walls and pillars reminding us of a time when the wool trade thrived and the wealth and plenty of an older England shaped the beauty of the Cotswold Hills and the farms and houses that rest within its generous arms. The route is pressed now on either side between thick hedges of blackthorn and elder, like a gorge in miniature no way out on either side as the path once more lifts and winds its way back North to the old Weavern Lane, a drovers track long since given over to hikers or the soft feet of roe deer out before the boots and dogs of walkers shatter the silence of their secretive world. These quiet creatures one of the few large mammals left in our woods, share our countryside moving in when our eyes are closed or our backs turned to stalk softly between the dusk and dawn of each working day.
Led up onto the tarmac of the road on which I started I can move more freely now and pick up the pace to push myself back along the final miles of the route and on entering the house once more reflect on the great pandemic. Whilst breathing hard in recovery, like Hardy I watch “morning harden upon the wall.” My thoughts go to my wife a key worker, tackling her essential role in the fabric of our struggling society and the daily salvo of risks she and thousands of NHS staff march towards, day in day out. Oblivious to the personal dangers they are all that stand between us, pain and an enemy we know little about and less of how to control.
I look at my Garmin and consider how the miles compare and split times stack up. Real speed endurance is something I left behind in younger, fitter days and now an older hopefully wiser runner I look back on those times of energy and ease and like Housman’s “land of lost content, I see it shining plain. The happy highways where I went and shall not come again.”
Nevertheless I like many struggling to find time and space under lockdown enjoy my running. I relish the places it takes me to, figuratively and literally and reflect on its joys. We will run through this crisis of that I am sure. But like any hard and exhausting session we will need time to recover and the good sense not to set out on the same route until we know we are fit enough to do so.
It’s a sad time at CRC as it should have been the Corsham 10K this weekend and obviously it didn’t take place. Luckily it’s been rescheduled for September 27th so Corsham 10K 2020 will hopefully still happen.
In total our members had another record breaking week on Strava, again we had exactly 100 members (I’m starting to think that Strava only shows the top 100), doing 1,948 miles in 349 activities (both records) and again we had 7 members doing at least 7 activities.
Some people did run the 10K route though as it was a glorious day again as we’re usually fortunate with the weather, even when the race doesn’t happen.
This weekend should also have seen the London marathon, which Stuart Henderson didn’t want to miss out on, so he did a loop from home. One bonus of not doing an official race was that he was able to stop and enjoy the scenery and take some pictures.
It did mean that Stuart didn’t do his weekly back garden parkrun. However Richard Biggs kept up his streak with Gastard parkrun #5.
Thursday evening again saw the exercise session with Jane Clarke (and Milly) and then all round to the virtual pub, The Scoop Inn, where we were joined by some chicks courtesy of Charlie Berry.
Jane Clarke has not only been promoting our well being on a Thursday evening, she has also been promoting CRC on Radio Wiltshire, talking about all of the great things we’ve been doing while our regular activities have been cancelled. Fast forward to around 1:46 to hear Jane’s interview on BBC Wiltshire (only available until 25th May)
There are many children of CRC members who are members of the One Mile Club and Humphry has rallied them to raise money for NHS charities. The idea is for 50 children to run 20 miles over 40 days, either as a single mile every other day, a half mile every day or any combination really that gets you to 20 miles.
Hopefully this will mean that overall the club will run 1,000 miles in the 40 days. If you’d like to sponsor them then please go to the LINK HERE