A tale of two tumbles
I sat at the back of the Lakeland 100 starting pen with my eyes closed. The music finished, it was time to go. Crowds cheered and I high-fived other Delamere Spartans as we left Coniston. Jim and I ascended together chatting and watching the beautiful Friday evening views. I pulled slightly ahead on a bit of downhill as I like to run to save my quads. We high-fived as I left and he entered the first check point (Seathwaite). He overtook me when I went the wrong way, just because the person in front is holding a gate open for you doesn't mean it is the right way. Fortunately the guy I'd been running with noticed and I checked the GPS and guided us back on to the right track.
I left checkpoint two (Boot) with Jim and another runner. We were all kitted out for the darkness that had descended. They were moving faster than me so I shook Jim's hand and we wished each other the best for trails ahead. As they disappeared I had my first tumble. I looked down to check my GPS and kicked a rock sending me into the dry stone wall to my right. As I was holding my GPS in my right hand my reaction was to fall against my right forearm. Face down on the trail I took a few seconds to compose myself then got up and checked my arm. It was all scrapped but nothing to worry about, onwards. This section was wetter than I'd hoped, my feet were cold and wet but the line of head torches in front and behind was magical to watch slowly snake forward. I was running along and noticed that my right knee was sticking to my waterproof. I saw a small cut in my see-through light weight waterproofs and some blood. My knee must have hit the dry stone wall too. On inspection again nothing to worry about, just a scrape.
On the descent into Wasdale I was really hungry and had to wrestle my brain into a positive state of mind as it felt like I was taking too long. Just concentrate on one section at time. Stop worrying. The third checkpoint (Wasdale) was crazy, seeing the marshals dancing round to their 80's disco at midnight was fantastic. I ate and ate and started to feel better but I was getting cold so needed to get moving. Up and over the two passes to get to Buttermere. I love the way torch light make streams sparkle as you pick stepping stones across. I overtook a few people on the descent to Buttermere and then ran at the best pace I could along the shore. I had to make the cut off at checkpoint four (Buttermere). I didn't want to have to stop before I saw the sun come up. I ate and ate. The marshals made me laugh. "Another hotdog for the man in the sexy see-through trousers" one marshal shouted through to the kitchen (Note: I was wearing shorts underneath).
The ascent out of Buttermere was breath-taking. Light slowly filled the valley as we traversed along the side of the hills. Clouds forming on the hills we'd just passed through. At the highest point it felt like we could see the whole of the Lake District. Now for the downhill to Braithwaite. I spent a long time at Buttermere check-point, I could make some time back now. Running down hill is such fun. Bouncing along I felt I was making great progress, then tumble number two. The rock didn't look slippery. I planted my right foot down and spun in the air. It felt like a cartoon fall. I was in the air long enough to wonder if I was hovering. Luckily I landed on my backpack. My backside hurt a bit but I got up fine. My GPs was about ten foot away so I walked over and picked it up. It must have hit a rock as the screen was smashed. Map and road book from now on then. I'd also cut my left hand. I'd lifted about a 1cm squared of skin. First aid kit out, anti-septic clean, remove grit, plaster, onwards.
Pasta and cake at checkpoint five (Braithwaite) and onto the road to Keswick. The knee I'd banged had stiffen up and it was slow progress. As the heat came into the day it was great to take off my waterproofs and run in shorts and t-shirt again. I was painfully slow up Latrigg but loved running round to the sixth checkpoint (Blencathra centre), it is a beautiful little valley. I'd eaten more than enough at the checkpoint but found I didn't have much energy along the disused railway out of Keswick. By coincidence I got to the road just in time to wave as three coaches of Lakeland 50 runners passed. Unfortunately this meant I had to wait as there was a never-ending line of cars behind the coaches. Eventually someone stopped, probably the family of Lakeland 50 runner, thank you, so I could get on my way. I felt good on the ascent to the old coach road but empty once I reached it. I ran some of it but was walking too much. My stomach felt empty but the idea of anything else sugary made me feel sick. I took my mind off it by looking at the inspiring view of Blencathra (Saddle Back). I slowly walked in to checkpoint seven (Dockray) and sat down exhausted. I was the final person they were expecting to get there. Soup, sandwiches, tea, biscuits eaten. Water and coke bottles refilled to take with me. Onwards. I'd read about the bird of prey of Dockray that didn't like runners, and there is was, and then it circled round to me. Having it hover and screech at me certainly got me running. Aira force is beautiful and the views of Ullswater were magnificent but there was nothing left it tank. I still felt empty and didn't have energy to run. Blisters hadn't been a problem so far, but walking through the forest near Gowbarrow I could feel blisters on the balls of both feet. I joined a lady called Maxine and it was great to chat while we walked, thanks for the company. We death marched in to Dalemain to be timed out after 58 miles. I really enjoyed it. What an adventure.
Some clips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EfABvOId60
Thank you to all the organisers and marshals. I only signed up to the Lakeland 100 because I knew the support would be amazing.