It was a fantastic day for sports nutrition business Team Mountain Fuel as they took 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Montane Trail26 half marathon and and 4 of the top 15 in the marathon, as well as winning 1st V40. However if the Cumbrian weather forecast was to be believed around 500 runners were going to be battered by 50mph winds and heavy rain as they ran around the demanding Grizedale Forest trail half and full marathon. Whether it was the weather that put them off or other commitments nearly 100 runners were a no show and they could have been kicking themselves as in reality the weather in Grizedale was perfect for runners, overcast with a cool breeze and no signs of the gales that were forecast. Just goes to show the best way to check the weather is to go outside!
The race covers two loops, the first half which is actually 13.5 miles with 1642 ft of ascent is on forestry tracks with gentle climbs and fast downhills and flats that suit the half marathon runners but can catch out those who are doing the full marathon. Those that had recce the course knew that the second loop had a sting in the tail as it was actually around 26.6 miles with 3727ft of ascent, with mixed terrain through technical mountain bike trails, with some good climbs and descents and even areas of tarmac that drain your legs after running on the softer stuff for so long.
The marathon runners set off 20 minutes before the half and this was the first challenge between the Mountain Fuel team as the half marathon runners bet was that they could catch them before they finished.
In the half marathon it was a Team Mountain Fuel 1st, 2nd and 3rd with Gareth Stephens from Shropshire in first, Joe Mann from Ambleside in second and Phil Winskill from Keswick in third.
Phil said, “I enjoyed that despite feeling under the weather, it was a good route and had lots of banter with the marathon runners as we caught them up. It was a battle between me and Joe for second and third, I held him off until about half way but he managed to pull away after this. It’s great to get a fast run in like this early in the season and I’m now really looking forward to the British Fell Champs at Black Combe where Keswick AC have a big field running.”
Joe, who is being trained by Paul Tierney and Sarah Mcormack of Missing Link Fitness in Ambleside said, “My training has been geared up to getting me ready for the English & British Fell Championships and having to run a fast trail race helps put some speed in your legs. I intended to push on in the second half and felt strong today and was really pleased to have finished second. Gareth went off like a steam train and never stopped so there was no catching him on the Trails.”
In the marathon Howard Seal from Cockermouth ran a well planned tactical race to finish 1st V40 and 4th overall, with Calum Tinnion from Cockermouth in 7th, Chris Lister from Workington in 8th followed by Nick ray in 15th and Gary Thwaite in 24th and Shaun Atkinson who was struggling with a chest infection in 36th. Fellow Mountain Fueller but running for Borrowdale AC on the day was Chris Swanepoel from Keswick based Kong Adventure who finished in 23rd despite a fall and gashing his leg.
The lead Team Mountain Fuel marathon runners managed to keep ahead of the faster half marathon pacers although going out too fast on this course left many other runners having to walk large sections of the second loop as fatigue kicked in.
After the race Howard said, “Having ran the race before I knew what was to come and the second half is brutal. The race is a bit early in the season for me as I’ve only started training again a few weeks ago after a fantastic 2015 so I ran a very steady first half with Calum. The key to any distance race like this is pacing and fuelling so I kept topping up with my drink from 40 minutes in and was able to sustain my pace throughout where others flagged. Finishing first V40 and 4th overall is a good result and all helps with my training which is geared towards the Lakeland100 in July.”
Calum who’d never ran beyond 13 miles was delighted to finish in the top ten and was just ahead of team mate Chris Lister who again has never ran in a marathon race before.
Chris said, “We’re more used to fells and gnarly weather so we were looking forward to the storm which could have helped slow the road runners down but for a first competitive marathon we’re happy with the result and this should help us in the upcoming fell races.”
Rupert Bonington along with his business partner Darren commented, “This is the first time we’ve supported the Montane26 trail series so to have our runners performing so well and some in distances and terrain they’re not used to is fantastic. As a Cumbrian based business it’s a pleasure to not only be involved in events like this but to also help promote them around the country and get visitors to come and experience what a fantastic place Cumbria is to explore and run.”