I’m writing this from my tent, it’s the night before the run. Everyone around me seem to have the noisiest zips and beds in the world, I swear the tent next to me has a balloon as a bed 😲. Hope the earplugs block it out but not too much I miss my alarm. Although that would be a good excuse 🤔…..
It’s been a strange day today, one I’ve probably felt the loneliest for a long time anyway. All my own doing as I planned the whole thing. A day off work, travel up north, pitch my tent
and sleep. Sounds lovely right? Well that’s what I thought but it’s a long day for that voice in your head to take over. Times like these are special and maybe should be shared with special people…Or maybe I’m just crapping myself…Tomorrow is a different kettle of fish. It’ll be shared with others but if on my own then, I’m happy with that….
Woke slightly before my alarm,4:16am to be precise. I slept well and for only having 5-6 hours sleep, felt good…After having loads of time to get ready, I somehow seemed to run out of it and didn’t take a change of clothes to the start. It’s about 5-10 mins walk from the tent, and the showers are at the start/finish. Something I later regret not doing. Bumped into Mark at the toilets, he was coming out as I went in. We had a catch up then got on the coach for the long drive to the start (1hr 20ish)
As we approach Calbeck the coach suddenly became quiet. This shit just got even more real…
There’s a lot of people kicking around inside and outside (500) le Old fellas pub, a few in new expensive kit, I hope they realise the difficulty of this route. In fact I hope I do. See a known face getting ready, Damian Hall. A world class ultra runner. It will be a race between him and local boy Ricky Lightfoot (cool name right?)
A few excited chats at the start line and off we go. I’m buzzing, been waiting for this day for over 4 years. Ever since I had to pull out of doing it from getting a hip injury, from being hit by a mini digger.
Its on road to start, slightly up hill and we agreed we were going a bit too quick. Too close to the front group but neither of us ease ha ha. Me and Mark made a pact to run and stay together. Once on the fell it starts getting steeper and only the front 3 carry on running. The rest of us mere mortals fast walk and jog when we can. I looked back and see the long stretched out line off runners, which was impressive. Not as impressive as the rainbows and views.
I won’t bore you with too much of the run as there was a lot of it. The first bit I did most of the pace setting. It was boggy in places, steep and soft grassy climbs, a knee deep quick flowing river crossing and of cause Blencathra and Halls fell. One of, if not my favourite place ever. Luckily we were blessed with great views too.
The technical descent down Halls fell (not shown on these pics) is a bit tricky but great fun. Plenty of Marshalls on hand to keep an eye on us. I was a bit quicker down here but was more than happy to take in the views…Feed station 1 at the lovely village of Thelkeld, just over 10 miles done.
Plenty of food and drink, loaded up our bags with more drink, a little rest and off we go. Under the A66 and up the country road, were Mark set a tough pace up to the point we go off road again. Then we take it in turns. This is were I begin to feel rough. After the long climb up Clough Head and the Dodds, I felt dizzy and sick. I never mentioned it at first as Mark was leading and was happy trying to keep up. Eventually I mentioned it as needed to ease the pace. I was sick a couple of times and after eating all my dried mango and drinking plenty of fluids over the next hour and plenty of patience from Mark, I came through it. Was a long stretch this one, 20 miles to be exact. Also not as easy running as we’d hoped for but was happy having the stunning views of the whole Lake district. Unfortunately no pics were taken by us, shows how much we both struggled on this stretch. Mark had his first proper bad patch as we climbed Fairfield fell, the last big climb of the section. To be fair the climb was definitely as bad as it looked…The long run off this, along the ridge and down to Ambleside was tough going, really tough, not a lot of chance to get a good flow going. Running through the busy bustling Ambleside fel strange and spent time dodging people but also getting a few cheers of support..
Feed station 2…30 miles done and just under 2000ft of climbing in the bag..
I had a sock and trainer change here and also hit a massive low… Felt as though I was sea sick, got asked by a couple of marshalls if I was ok. I just said I needed food and rest. This is where I checked my WhatsApp and Facebook messages and posted this.
“At Ambleside now. In a dark place man this is tough. 19 miles”
Meaning 19 miles left to go. Everyone had been following us on the live tracking page. It’s the first race I’ve done with this system and absolutely loved it. Not only was it great knowing your being watched but it’s good fun for the supporters too. Also at each feed station we got to see how we were doing in the race, and how much faster the top runners are 😲…
The messages of support definitely helped to get me up and moving.
So only 13ish miles to next check point/feed station and only trails with no mountains. Sounds like a piece of cake and I’m starting to feel normal again as we head off. Mark suggested walking for a bit to get the blood going. Good plan I instantly agreed, we also agreed that we’d be happy even if we walked the rest of the way. Like that’s gonna happen, he’s more competitive than me ha ha. It’s not long before we’re in pain jogging again, then walk, then jog, then walk, you get the idea. We discussed how close we both was to quitting at Ambleside. Something neither of us spoke about while there, we must love the mental challenge and torture. It’s a really nice trail to run on and helps to keep us moving, nice and flowing. We want to get to Finisthwaite, the last feed station before dark.
Some of the route runs close to the waters of Lake Windermere.
Surprising how much a smile can hide pain. There’s some bits of the lake we have to get shin deep in, cold but also refreshing. I can honestly say that these 13 miles was the longest 13 miles ever. We finished the last few miles by torch light through endless muddy tree covered trails and it honestly felt endless. On a different day and in daylight it’d be an awesome run I had a slight fall in the dark and get a splinter. Annoying little bugger, I’ll be always grateful of the lady at Finisthwaite for getting it out..
Only a quick stop here to refuel and load up on drink. Just 7-8 miles to go and we just want to get to the finish. Initially we wanted to get a beer if we got back before last orders but all we could think about was a nice cup of tea. As we set off though the cold hit us big time. The temperature had dropped a lot which we hadn’t noticed before we stopped. Mark went into early hypothermia symptons and the Marshall and I wanted to get him back inside to warm up but he refused. We put all our jackets on and got moving. It’s not long before we’ve warmed up and he’s ok again, he said he was worried they may pull him out of the race if we went in. I don’t think they would but I understand why he’d think that.
More muddy trails, more walking, more pain and a little bit more sick. Eventually after over 13 hours on our feet we come to the last 2 miles. 2 miles on road. Down hill. Sounds great right? Well maybe it would of been, if we’d just plodded in to the finish. Mark had a different idea to that though, he wanted to break free from the small group we’d gathered. Felt like a 6 min mile pace but looking on Strava later I see it was 9min mile pace. My legs felt fine but my body had had enough. My breathing was painful to the point I couldn’t get full breaths in. I sounded like a moaning baby, coughing, spitting, choking, screaming and groaning. I even started shouted at myself. I didn’t want to stop and let him down but the pain was over whelming. We eased off slightly and that helped. I don’t know how he did it but he kept me going to and over the finish line. We bloody did it mate, we did it! We finished in 13hrs 43mins. More than happy with that. Time to get dry warm clothes on, eat, sit down and enjoy the pain. As l hobble to my seat people look and smile. Not because they think it’s funny, well maybe a little. It’s because they understand, they know what l just did, they had the same pain as me when they walked to their seats. The difference is that their pain had eased enough to appreciate their achievement and enjoy their well earned pain. After half an hour or so of shivering, grunting and trying breath without the stabbing pain, I’m sat there smiling too. Watching broken people hobble to their seats in pain, are we mad? Maybe slightly but in this room with all these mad people. From all walks of life. We are all the same and once the pain settles, we all sit together, smiling, chatting, strangers but like old friends. This is why I love it. Humanity at its best, all equal and united like a tribe, settled, happy and very primitive.
We walk back to the camping site cheering people coming past as we go. Said our goodbyes, till the next adventure that is. Mark heads to his car to sleep and I head to my tent. After a cold cup of tea and sending some messages, got my body as comfy as possible and got my head down around 11:45pm. Woke up at 5am on the dot as the church bells rang. Packed up and drove through the village. Still people coming in to the finish, they look on a different level of broken. How mentally tough must they be? Outstanding. Their just finished and I’m heading home feeling even more humbled by what we achieved and went through. I even had a little tear of and felt overwhelmed.
Ricky Lightfoot was on form and got the win and here he is, the man, the legend.
Ricky Lightfoot on the finish line of Lakes in a Day with a hard won finish medal after setting a new record time of 8.47.27.
He beat the record set in 2015 by Kim Collison by 25 minutes and won a £2000 prize. He said the final stages were tough as he didn’t have enough food – and he wanted a burger! (He’s also got to work tonight!)
So on reflection why do I do it? I guess I feel that I’m the pure me when I’m turning myself inside out. I feel so alive when I strip everything away and push past new personal limit’s in the mountains. In the past I was in awe of these people running in the mountains, how do they do it I’d say and now I do it. Also It’s the friendliest competitive sport I’ve had the pleasure to take part in.
Stop living in your dreams and start living them!
Lakes in a day
12,302ft of elevation.