Ultra Running & Reviews

Archive for January, 2012

A fresh start

by on Jan.22, 2012, under Blog

As of January 1st I’ve started afresh with my running having done nothing for about 6 months. I entered a race which will push me to the limits and given myself 12 weeks to train for it. I started at 13st 10lbs on the 1st of January & couldn’t run a mile. One week of training got me running 17 miles then 26 & this week 31 miles. I’ve also been doing 8+ mile runs most nights & cut out all the junk food & most of the wine! My weight is now at 12st 4lbs, I’d like to be around the 11st mark for the race so some way to go.

Most of my long runs have been along the Leeds to Liverpool canal as it’s only 4 miles from my house and a nice place to run. I hope to run the full length from Darwen to Liverpool a couple of weeks before my race as a last training run before I taper down. I’ll try to keep this diary updated as and when I get time, if only as a way of keeping a diary of my training.

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Race Report “Montane Lakeland 100” 23rd-25th July 2010

by on Jan.22, 2012, under Race Reports

The organizers of this race wanted it to be directly comparable with the  Ultra Tour du Mont-Blanc® hence the actual distance of 104 miles. I got to the  race start point at John Ruskin school about 2 hours before the off & met Neil Bryant & Steve Gordon, friends from JOGLE.


The race organizers gave us a very detailed map & a road book (all waterproof) and we all had to attend a pre race briefing before we were allowed to start. This included a talk by running legend Joss Naylor MBE. He talked about some of his running achievements including running 84 miles in around 9 hours off road! We also got a very nice Montane technical t-shirt before the start of the race which was at 5:30pm on Friday. The race used the “Si system” to check into each of the 14 points along the route, so we had accurate timings for all our CP’s.

As we lined up for the start I suddenly realized I hadn’t dibbed in my timing chip before we set off so I had to go right to the back of the line-up and dib in, great start. As the race started we slowly made our way out onto the road and up the first hill. This first section included 2,100 feet of climbing and a 1,950 decent. I ran the first 15 miles with Neil & we chatted about previous ultras we’d done together. We soon reached the first checkpoint at Seathwaite village hall, filled our water up & went on our way, food in hand. I try not to spend any time at the checkpoints as later on you can get tempted into staying too long.

The next section was Seathwaite to Boot with a climb of 1,165 feet & descending 1,345 feet. I soon found out that each section of about 6+ miles was to be like a fell race. The weather was good on the first day with no rain and quite warm. I stayed with Neil for about 15 miles & then settled into my own pace. Before long I’d reached CP 3 at Wasdale Head just as the light had started to fail, I decided this would be a good time to break out my head torch just before the next climb of 2,437 feet up Wasdale Head followed by a 2,306 foot decent. I also put on another Buff to keep my neck warm as it was starting to get a bit chilly despite all the climbing. This was a hot food CP also so I had some soup to keep me warm. On the way up Wasdale head we spotted a few fireflies flying round the ferns, I’d never seen them before. It seemed like quite a climb to the top maybe it was the dark or just staring at the pool of light from my head-torch but it seemed to take a long time to reach the top. I was glad to see the next CP 4 at the village hall in Buttermere, as I approached the door I got a cheer from the support team which was nice. On the inside we could have some more soup & a roll, I just had some soup and re-filled my water pack. On my way out I could hear a runner telling the organizers he’s had enough & wanted to quit, it was going to be a long night. I’d now covered almost a marathon, 25 miles done & only 79 miles to go!

The next section was Buttermere to Braithwaite which would be another 2,440ft climb & 2,539ft decent. By this time I’d been running on my own for a few hours & was glad to catch up to 3 runners ahead I said “Hi” but they didn’t answer, they looked very tired as we ran up yet another mountain. I tucked in behind as the path we were on was very narrow with a very big drop down one side and a steep climb on the other. The path was covered with ferns and you couldn’t see the stones underneath, the guy in front of me kept tripping up and falling. I was worried he may fall down the drop but somehow he always managed to miss it. After a while they moved over and let me pass, the guy in front said they were all falling asleep! I could see some more runners up ahead & thought I’d see if I could catch them. As I got nearer I realized I’d not looked at my SatMap for a while & decided to check I was still on the right path, I wasn’t! I’d been too busy trying to catch the others I’d forgot to check my course. I was only a few hundred yards off where I should have been but it almost ended my race. I’d come to a very steep section of rock and ran halfway down towards the other runners when I realized my mistake. This meant having to retrace my steps back up in the dark, it was very hard to get my head around having to climb another 1,000 feet for nothing. As I reached the top again I saw another runner who pointed to the runners on the other side of the river & said he doubted they’d make the next checkpoint in time & were probably out of the race. That was a close one, we ran together to CP 5 at Braithwaite & chatted on the way. This was nice as it had been a while since I’d spoken to anyone. Eventually we reached Braithwaite at 33 miles, this was one of the better checkpoints and they had biscuits, coffee, tea, rice pudding etc. I filled up and set off again just as dawn broke, it’s always nice when you see the sun starting to rise on a new day.

On my way to CP 6 Blencathra at 42 miles it came light & my thoughts turned to how long I still had to run, it was difficult to think I still had another full day & night to go in this race! I ran alone again for a few hours before seeing anyone. This is when things can start to go downhill mentally as your left alone with your thoughts. As I approached yet another mountain climb I saw 2 runners up ahead, they stopped for a while as I ran past and we exchanged a few words. As the hill got steeper we passed each other a few more times. Just as I thought I’d got passed they sped up & passed me again. We were running at a very similar pace so I tagged along. As it happens this was a good move, Nigel had done the 100 the previous year & Hannah the 50 so they both had a good idea of the rout. As we chatted I discovered Nigel lived only about 6 miles from me. They both had lots of experience in various ultras so knew what to expect. The next section of the course was past Lonscale fell which was a horseshoe shaped trail around a river, you could see the other side only a few hundred yards away but because of the river in between we had to run another few miles to get to the other side. As we looked back we didn’t see any other runners which seemed strange as we left quite a few at the last checkpoint. We made our way round looking back now & again & still nobody behind. Just around the corner & on our way down the hill we saw a photographer who was taking pictures of the runners, I was glad to see him as it just confirmed we were on the right path. We reached the bottom of the hill & just around the corner was checkpoint 7 at Dockray we’d now run 49 miles. We all had some Soreen and filled up our water and set off for CP 8 at Dalemain.

Nice tech T-shirt

I was looking forward to CP 8 as it was about half way through the race & I could change my socks & trainers. By this time it was getting very hot and my feet felt quite wet from all the water the night before. The skin on my feet had gone soft & I could feel a big blister on my right foot just under my big toe. As we reached the long driveway up to the tent at Dalemain, I stood on a large rock and as my foot slid off it the skin covering a large blister came off. I could feel it throbbing through my sock, running on bare skin was painful but I knew I could change into some fresh socks in a few hundred yards. I had a drop bag with some clothes, socks & my own food which I filled my rucksack with. When I removed my trainers I found my feet weren’t as bad as I’d thought, I put some antiseptic cream on & new socks and felt much better. Most of the runners around me said they were having foot problems with all the water. I sat on a massage table to eat a bowl of pasta & Pete & Andrew came into the tent to ask me how I was doing, they were doing the 50 miler which started at Dalemain. It was nice to see a couple of familiar faces. We chatted for a few minutes before me, Nigel & Hannah set off again. It was great to be running with someone as the time passed much quicker. As we ran across the fields away from Dalemain we picked out a few 50 milers & decided to catch them. My feet felt much better now and I could start to allow myself to think of the finish.

We ran together for quite a few miles & as we ran it started to rain. I couldn’t be bothered to put my full weather gear on so it got very cold. The good side to this was that my stuff started drying as soon as the rain let off a bit. The last part of the race was almost totally wet & windy but I was almost 75 miles in by now and just kept going. We noticed that Nigel had gone quiet & he said he was nauseous & couldn’t get any food down, at this stage that’s never a good thing but he seemed to get over it and started feeling better after eating something.

At around 90 miles I decided to part company & carry on alone. I sometimes feel the best way to get to the finish is to be on my own.  It was sad to part company with Nigel & Hannah but I was going through a bad patch & needed to be alone. I picked up a couple of runners as I started to feel better & we chatted as we ran the last few checkpoints to the finish. As I ran the last mile I asked a lady which way the finish was (my usual rubbish navigation) and she said she would show me! She ran about half a mile with me & pointed to the finish. I got back in 37:46, which I was happy with considering the other big races I’d done just before the Lakeland 100. When I got back my Forerunner said 104 miles which after asking around a few other runners seemed to be right. Lakeland 104 doesn’t trip off the tongue as easy though so maybe they shortened it a little! At the finish they weighed us and I’d lost 2lbs, I wouldn’t recommend it as a diet though. If your thinking of doing this race you don’t need to run it in full on trail shoes, I used trail shoes for the first 50 miles (blistered) then Brooks Adrenaline for the last 54 miles. Some runners did the whole race in road shoes which I would do if I do it again.

Overall this was a very well organized race with the right food & plenty of it at each checkpoint, the checkpoints are maned by runners from local clubs so they have a good idea what your going through. I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a good challenge without going to the extremes. A very doable race & mostly on good paths & trails. Just make sure you take a good head torch for the night sections.

Happy Running!


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