When you start on this ultra distance madness it is a natural progression to want to run a 100 and we have one of the best on our doorstep in the Lake District.
My preparation had gone perfectly up until about month before and I’d got into what was for me the form of my life with 6th at The Fellsman and Vet 90 team win at The Old County Tops. However, a busy month at work and a couple of weeks with a chest infection/asthma spoiled things a bit so I was apprehensive as we lined up on Friday evening.
Having told myself to take it easy I felt great at the start and it was a perfect evening so I ran at a brisk but comfortable pace to Wasdale Head in 4th place where Steve Angus braved the midges, gave me a cheer and took photographs the night before Lingmell Dash.
I climbed Scarth Gap as the sun went down with eventual winner Paul Tierney and switched the head-torch on at Black Sail Pass. On the way down I managed to turn my R ankle badly twice and the cold air was bothering my breathing so I started to feel a bit down. Chris Perry came past as I took the wrong trod below Whiteless Pike and I coughed my way up to Sail Pass. The checkpoint at Brathwaite revived me with pasta and rice pudding and I felt good all the way to the bizarre checkpoint at the Blencathra Centre.
From the climb to the Coach Road I could see the BG’ers coming down Hall’s Fell as the sky lightened. Things went downhill again here. I expected to jog quickly along to Matterdale but my knees became very painful and together with my throbbing ankle/foot it meant I couldn’t run at all so walked all the way to Dockray.
I rallied a bit in the stunning dawn along Gowbarrow Fell where Oliver Blomfield was bivvying out to take photos and passed early leader Ken Sutor who was having a really bad time. When I got to the road section I slowed down again in a painful shuffle and dropped to 10th overall.
Family and friends came out to Dalemain which gave me a boost and to lend some much needed encouragement. Dave Troman came past me at Howtown on his way through the field to an excellent top 10 sub-24hr finish.
I felt ok on the long climb up Fusedale but thereafter things became very tough. My knees and foot were so painful that I couldn’t run downhill or over rocky stuff and if there’s one word to describe this whole event it is rocky. From Haweswater to Troutbeck I suffered over the passes and into Ambleside. The family leap-frogged me along the route with their cowbells and cheerfulness which helped.
Carol Morgan came past strongly at Elterwater on her way to an excellent win in the ladies race. By this time I thought I was jogging but found that I couldn’t even overtake mothers with pushchairs in Chapel Stile. I’d have probably better walking than the weird bobbing and lurching that I was doing.
It was good to see a friends taking photos on the Tilberthwaite road and I was relieved to get to the last checkpoint. From there I actually enjoyed the last climb before dropping down the purgatory of the descent into Coniston with the first 50’ers coming through. At the Coppermines road I amused Steve Angus with my non-jogging before shuffling to the line feeling slightly emotional.
I’d done it in 15th place and 26hrs 21mins which considering the problems I encountered was pretty good for a first 100.
The event was superb from start to finish and my new favourite race despite the suffering it entails.
Things that worked well were Mountain Fuel Extreme Energy drink and Ella’s Kitchen baby food (blueberry, banana & baby rice), Z-poles for the second half and my pre-sale pair of Inov-8 Terraclaw 250s which were light grippy and comfortable with no blisters or sore bits.
Well I knew I’d hurt my foot coming off Black Sail 25 miles into the Lakeland 100 but not how bad it was.
After hobbling around for a few days I gave in and went to hospital. X-ray shows that I’ve broken the 5th metatarsal bone at the ankle end. In a rather fetching plaster cast for next 4-5 weeks.
I can understand better now why I was slowed up in pain for the latter part of the race.
Didn’t quite achieve my targets for the 100 but I’ve got a pretty good excuse having run 80 miles on a broken foot!