Monday, 10 August 2009

Two long weekends - 1!

One rainy and one sunny! The Lakes 100 and 50 occupied the rainy weekend at the start of August and presented me with the challenge of 50 rough miles that I knew would take well in to the small hours to complete. Having had the luxury of a couple of days off work I rocked up at Coniston to have plenty of time to put up tent, register, chill out and gossip (when Julie and Nicky arrived) before watching the 100ers setting off. Also got to meet a few people I didn't know although who's names I had seen on results, blogs - Shirley Colquhoun and Nick Ham).

The field for the 100 was fairly large considering, although a bit smaller than it started out due to a number of people deciding to swap from 100 to the 50. They set up in to murky drizzle, which as the night wore on developed in to torrential rain all night and through to the next morning. I lay in my tent all night just thinking that it must be so horrible for the 100 guys.

At the 50 briefing the next morning the event organiser's confirmed how awful the night had been by the high number of people they had to pull from the event. Shame, but better luck next time and let's hope tropical storm ultra doesn't hit.

The buses arrived to take us all to the start of the 50 and something blue started to appear up in the sky followed by something bright and orange that I think we might have seen earlier in the year. Yes, the sun came out and it was actually properly warm which meant last minute clothing adjustments all round.

The 50 started with a trot round the Dalemain estate. This felt like a 4m trail race and some people went hell for leather. I had my usual lethargic start, which fingers crossed usually means I suddenly perk up in the last part of the race! Getting on the route proper was great and most people soon established themselves in to groups of people they would to and fro with and run with. Running through Pooley Bridge was bizarre, it was like people there (apart from someone supporting a runner) were making a conscious effort to pretend there were no people running through there.

The first checkpoint came at Howtown and with it some ace cake, which was far to good to just be used as fuel to stuff my face with as fast as possible. However, would be rude to say no so I had some! The next bit of the route had some of the trickiest navigation and was a part I had not been able to reccy. Fortunately there were a lot of people round and at the crux points there was either some technically adept person with a GPS or someone who had reccied, to save the rest of us having to navigate! This descent to Haweswater involved locks of bracken and rough ground and a little bit of cursing from me. Lost lots of ground here, but reminded myself that there really was a long way to go and chill out.

The route along Haweswates was a nice undulating track, bit rough in places, but eventually Mardale Head came in to view. Was lucky enough for the coke (ps was well impressed with Morrison's coke - it does taste quite like the real thing and in a taste test when you are ready for a sugar hit I would not have known the difference) to still be available when I got to Mardale and refilled my water using the stream rather than faff with the water container. Took on a gel and a few other treats to fuel me for the big climb out of Mardale Head. Purple poles set me in a nice rythm and just picked my way up to the top. The view from the top of Gatesgarth pass was awesome and shame I had my " I can't be faffed to get my camera out" head on!

Dropped down Longsleddale and bits of the reccy back in March was coming to me. Remembered the big stile that Mark had to lift the dog over (really big stile - bigger than me - and medium sized dog with one of those big doggy harneses on with us when we did the reccy). Kentmere checkpoint was fab and for us 50 ers probably the first chance of a cuppa and some savoury offerings. That said, I took sugar in my tea and wolfed jelly beans (my new sweet of choice which tescos don't seem to stock).

Heading out of Kentmere on to the Garburn Pass I had that horrible feeling when you can't get going after a refuel break. Really just had to put my head down and keep drinking and nibbling lucozade glucose sweets (my dentist is going to tell me off big time). Did the trick though as started to come round on the descent off Garburn and by the time I hit the forest before Ambleside I really felt like I had a bit of energy and could feel the familiar second half surge I have if I run okay.

Caught up with a lovely lady called Mhairi just in Ambleside. She and I had been running close early on until my mincy descent to Haweswater. We were now fairly well matched. We ran in to Lakes runner together and agreed that we should try and stick together which was great, plus I actually knew this part of the race so could even be of use! Lakes runner checkpoint was brilliant and I loved it, plus there were some people watching an cheering so felt like an event. Was great to see some familiar faces there like and the boys deserve a massive thanks for looking after each and every runner so well.

Heading off out of Ambleside I started to feel like this was going to be doable now and I was not going to have some meltdown. Tried not to get carried away and was nice to have some company. Mhairi had only a few weeks earlier done a sole unsupported BG round. What an acheivement!! We stuck together until about Elterwater when she had a bit of a bad patch and waved me on. Felt bad leaving her, although I had a feeling she would catch me up on rough ground in the dark. Also I thought if someone can do that solo BG they're well capable of looking after themselves and maybe they want to feel bad and not have someone chatting like an air head.

Chapel Stile checkpoint was very chilled out and a chance to faff before headin out with head-torch now on. Set off on this bit alone although in the knowledge that there was a group not too far behind. Had a lovely bit on my own down the Langdales before catching some 100ers before the climb to Blease Tarn. This felt like the spookiest bit and was a tricky bit of navigation to make sure you aimed at right section across the boggy ground. At this point "a bloke" caught me up and I quite rudely can't remember his name or open the results at the moment. However, we were well matched and so ran on together through to Coniston. Running down in to Tiberthwaite was fab as I knew we had one bit of navigation to negotiate then we were down and done. The next section basically involved staying on the left hanside of the beck and following track away from it, keeping faith with your line when the track goes faint on a boggy bit and then following the track all the way to a solitary tree and a right turn! Crack that and basically you follow your nose. We did, but then had the horrible wet, rocky and brackeny decsent to Coniston YHA. Off that though and on to wide track, Coniston and finish! Hurrah, now where can I get a brew? As it happened nowhere so had to make do with a shower and a recovery shake (and nearly passing our after shower) before trying to sleep.

Morning brought catch-up with Nicky and Julie G who had both done amazing and were 2nd women - 11 and half hours compared to my 13.15. Still I achieved goal of finishing and was probably in earlier than I expected! Think next year I'll have a go at the 100!

ps - Mhairi finished not far behind me.

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