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Race Reports [Reports Index]

Lakeland 100
Friday 29th July 2016

100 miles in the bag :-) The Lakeland 100 was an epic day-and-a-bit out. Cumbria put on some of its finest views to help me around, to not only complete the route of 105 miles with 20,000ft of ascent, but also beat my target time by over 2 hours! I was particularly pleased (and surprised) to gain places throughout the race, finishing 37th, while still feeling that I could do a lot better next time – if there is a next time…

Huge thanks to everyone that has already sponsored me. If not, please consider doing so at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ScottWhite

For anyone interested in all the gory details, read on:

After a very wet Thursday, the skies cleared on Friday and the start from Coniston at 18:00 was bordering on hot. With the live rendition of Nessun Dorma (“none shall sleep”) we were off! The pace up the first climb (2000ft on Walna Scar) seemed a bit enthusiastic, and I tried to keep myself firmly in check. With a wave to Ultra Katie and Darren at the top, I tried even harder to restrain myself on the downhill – from past experience I knew enough to not trash my quads too early, but I still arrived at CP1 Seathwaite faster than planned, wondering if I’d gone out too fast.

I deliberately eased off the pace a bit, sticking with a small bunch of other runners through the next 2 sections to CP2 Boot and CP3 Wasdale. It was generally flatter and more runnable, although with some awkward boggy bits. Darkness fell on the last part of the descent into Wasdale (shortly after 22:00) but we pushed on to get there without having to stop and get headtorches out.

The next section to Buttermere took us over Black Sail Pass and then Scarth Gap, in the full darkness. Despite the hard effort required, the skies were stunningly clear and star-filled, although without the promised meteor show. CP4 Buttermere had some very welcome strawberry milkshake on offer (of which I consumed more than my fair share) before heading up the seemingly endless ascent to Sail Pass, and then finally down to CP5 Braithwaite.

There followed the only boring part of the entire route, a few km along the A66 to Keswick – luckily still early enough in the morning (around 02:30) that there was almost no traffic. Then onto familiar territory heading up around Latrigg and skirting Lonscale Fell and Blease Fell to CP6 Blencathra, with the sky just starting to lighten.

Sunrise appeared while heading out along the disused railway line towards Threlkeld, with a stunning display of red/gold clouds in the distance. The trudge across the bogs to the foot of Clough Head was tempered by the knowledge that we didn’t need to go to the top, just a long traverse along the Old Coach Road to CP7 Dockray. Then heading down past Aira Force came the welcome site of Debs with Swift and Guinness to greet me (they’d got up at 4am to get there in time)!

The path around Gowbarrow revealed some stunning views over Ullswater, before the somewhat more prosaic road stretch to CP8 Dalemain – with the comforting knowledge that I was now over halfway! Debs was there again, to help me sort a quick change of socks and replenishment of my fuel supplies. I also availed myself of the beef stew followed by cake and custard, provided by the fabulous checkpoint volunteers (my only solid food for the entire race).

The next section to CP9 Howtown was relatively flat, but I struggled to get moving again after the slightly longer stop at Dalemain, and also had to take some time to stop abrasion from my pack. The following leg up Fusedale and over High Kop / Low Kop is probably the crux of the route for many, with the greatest ascent and descent; I actually enjoyed the up, maintaining a good climbing pace, but struggled more on the downhill as my legs and feet were starting to hurt from the cumulative pounding. The final stretch along Haweswater to CP10 Mardale Head certainly felt endless!

After a quick sit down at the checkpoint, I decided that sitting any longer would just make it harder to start again, so headed up the switchbacks to Gatescarth Pass and then down the very long Longsleddale valley to CP11 Kentmere. A mental boost from getting back onto familiar territory up Garburn Pass was compounded by seeing Debs, Laura and the dogs waiting at the top. They ran down with me to Troutbeck, leaving me to complete one of my favourite trails around Wansfell to CP12 Ambleside. Another wave to Katie and Darren on the descent through Skelghyll Wood, and another welcome by Debs and Laura in Rothay Park. It was now 17:18 with almost 90 miles done and I could just about anticipate a finish before dark if I maintained a decent pace.

Up over Loughrigg (another of my favourite trails) and down to Skelwith Bridge then along a nice flat easy section to Elterwater (Debs, Laura and the dogs again – twice!). I was now mostly walking fast rather than running, but wanted to save something in my legs for the end. Quickly past CP13 Chapel Stile (less than 5 seconds in the checkpoint!) and then along Great Langdale Beck and up to the gorgeous Blea Tarn. The last stretch from Little Langdale to CP14 High Tilberthwaite was a surprisingly steep uphill, but I was pleased to still be climbing well.

Unfortunately I hadn’t really looked closely at the last leg, and expecting a mostly downhill run back to Coniston was a bit shocked to be confronted by the “stairway to heaven” – a very steep climb straight up from the checkpoint! Thankfully I had a bit of time in the bag, so just concentrated on keeping going until eventually it levelled out and then started the descent to the finish. I was able to muster a fairly decent pace through the cheering throngs in Coniston to complete in just under 27 hours 45 minutes :-)

So, a few thoughts about what worked well and not so well:

Pacing – Not generally one of my strong points, but I think I did a reasonable job. At CP1 I was in 86th place, and on each leg I maintained or improved that position, until the very last section where I lost one place. If I’d recce’d that section I think I could have pushed harder from High Tilberthwaite knowing exactly what was to come.

Kit – Mostly worked very well. Inov-8 Race Ultra shoes were excellent, and the only time I started to get any hot spots (more than 90 miles in) they were quickly sorted by splashing through a few cooling puddles! Inov-8 twin-skin shorts were also brilliant, as was their merino shirt, which kept me both warm enough and cool enough for the entire race. The Salomon race vest was great except for some abrasion on my lower back from the very bottom of the pack.

Navigation – I uploaded the GPS file to my handheld Garmin eTrex, which also has the OS maps. This was brilliant until the track suddenly stopped about 2/3 of the way around! I think the file was too large, and I didn’t check properly before the race. So the rest was done “old school” using the map. I also had my Garmin Fenix 3 watch, in ultra-track mode so the battery would last; this was very disappointing, as the track was too inaccurate to be useful for anything (although in every other respect I love the watch).

Nutrition – Having tested it out a few weeks ago supporting Katie G’s 25-at-25, I used Tailwind for most of the race. This worked really well, although by the end I was getting a bit tired of the taste and just wanted plain water. I supplemented it with the occasional cup of milk, soup or strawberry milkshake from the checkpoints, plus the quick stew and cake at Dalemain. My estimate is around 3000kcal consumed, which felt like plenty to keep me going.

Event organisation – Absolutely fantastic! This had by far the best general community support of any fell/trail race I have done, and the support within the race between runners was also superb. For the last 20 miles or so I started getting overtaken by the 50-mile runners (who started at Dalemain at 11am) and every single one shouted encouragement to me as they went past. The motivational benefit of this cannot be underestimated!!

And finally, would I do it again? My immediate reaction after finishing was possibly not – it certainly hurt more than anything else I’ve done, including the Bob Graham round. I don’t actually think it’s harder than the BG, but I definitely pushed the pace more. Now that the pain has mostly faded after 48 hours, I’m already starting to think about next year… any takers for a team effort?

And finally finally, massive thanks to Debs for all the support at so many places around the course!!

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