Lakeland 50 - its Glastonbury for phycos.
I want to start by saying WOW. UTLD weekend is immense. The whole event is huge and proper mint. Everybody should experience a part of it, wether as a runner or supporter. It is Glastonbury for phycos.
To explain that statement I will have to explain a study somebody wiser than me (not hard really) tried to describe to me. A woman in America conducted a study into the brains of certain groups. It transpires that murderers and ultrarunners share a similar brain pattern, we are all physcos or sociopaths. Explains a lot.
Anyway, I digress. After travelling up on Friday with James and Jon we met up with the rest of the Spartan army at coniston, including worried wives and junior spartans. I haven't been with most of the Spartan army for a long time so for me I was buzzing. This was good for me mentally as earlier on Friday I had txt R Kid with worries and concerns. I think it was starting to become real that running 50 miles in the lakes is not normal behaviour, and I will be honest I.was getting scared.
Laughing and joking will old faces (im not saying you look old by the way gang) and fulfilling the challenge of actually putting the tent up and my mood was much more positive. We waved the 100 runners off, the proper nutters and registered.
During kit check I had one of the highlights of my weekend, I met John Kynaston. That may mean nothing to most of you, but his videos of the Lakekand 100 route are the only reason I even know the route. The man's a legend.
A few pints and a chilli with the gang including an adopted Spartan called Andy Quicke (great name) and I was feeling pretty relaxed for the upcoming adventure. I had a good nights sleep (without an air mattress - schoolboy error) and got up ready to 'smash it' or drastically fail trying. I had my red thunder breakfast -its the future, haha - and we all got ready.
Sorry, I know I rabbit on, if you know me you know I like to talk, I'm an excitable puppy. Quickly to the actual race then, Erm, quick nap on the bus, and more energy drink, some pictures with the gang (that's my head floating in the rear of the team pics) and great atmosphere at Dalemain and we were off.
I had two plans for the race. 1-run within myself until Ambleside and see if I have anything left, if so race from there, and 2- go as hard as I can for as long as I can, that normally holds me in good stead with occaisional exceptions (namely pie & peas and the last lake TT I did). I spoke to nick just before we set off and then started running with Nick and realised plan 2 was the 1 I was going for, I was in for a very painful day (actually longer, its the 8th and my feet are still finished).
By Pooley Bridge I had found a good rhythm and felt ok, I was running With Mr Quicke and the miles were passing by. We passed through Hotown as fast as we could and started the horrible climb to High Kop. That was slow going but I felt ok ish. Running around the lake to the checkpoint it all started going wrong. 1st Andy Q had a fall which disrupted our rhythm and then I fell.
The fall itself was pretty minor but the shock of it brought on cramp in my calves and quads which never really abated all day. There was only about 2, maybe 3 miles left to the checkpoint but it felt like forever. That was the hardest section of the race for me, and had the checkpoint been another mile away I could have easily spewed the race, I was in a bad place for that section.
Getting to the Mardale Head was like an oasis in the desert. This is the perfect checkpoint for the Spartans. Afta the long climb and seemingly never ending run around the lake I can see why so many people drop out at this point. Having the energy of the Spartans there is a massive pick you up. At this checkpoint I kind of just stood round aimlessly, seeing some familiar faces was mint tho, always nice to see old friends when you need help. I was proper fussed about aswell, and want to thank you gang for the much needed boost you gave me. Particularly Rob who wouldn't let me even get my own drinks. I was well looked after. I wanted to leave as soon as possible to start the climb out of the checkpoint as i was dreading it so I said my goodbyes to the gang and plodded on.
From the next checkpoint (Kentmere) I ran with 3 other runners at q point or another. Stu, rach and keiran. We finished 40-44 overall so all stayed pretty consistent with each other from that point. We would switch the order at times, and there was a lot of toing and froing but chasing them or trying to stay ahead of them, I could not have kept going if not for those 3, so massive thanks, particularly stu, who practically carried me from ambleside to chapel stile. Cheers mate. From ambleside was new ground for me, I have never gone beyond 34 miles before, Infact I had never done ultra distance without either Gareth or Andy w to carry me so Stu was a welcome crutch. Lol
Sorry to rush to the end but then it was over. John Ruskin school in Coniston, where legends are born! The atmosphere at base camp was amazing, and it was hard to suppress a tear.
Seeing Spartan supporters at Pooley Bridge and Ambleside was massive. It really helped me push on, thank you gang. Also, at the finish. I have never felt so tired, seeing friendly faces nearly made me cry, god only knows how I will react next year when the kids are there when I finish the 100, with a huge slice of luck and a lot of training.
If your still reading this, wow, top effort. I know I go on but this really is an experience you must try. This blog has not done how amazing the weekend is enough justice, but I did try, and god loves a trier. On a side note, I love Vals blog about being the better half to an ultarunner. More of these off family in the future perhaps, very insightful and funny.