> 2008 race reports
08-09/08/08 Lakeland 100 - from Steve Birkinshaw

This was the first running of the Lakeland 100 mile race. It started in Coniston on Friday 8th August at 7.30pm and 31 of us lined up ready to start, all looking a bit nervous. 100 miles is a long way and it was best not to think too hard about what we were about to do.

The route went via the Duddon, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here the route headed round Ullswater and continued over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston. In each valley there was a checkpoint, some were in village halls, one in a pub, one in the Lakes Runner shop and some in the more isolated places in gazebos. But they all had a plentiful supply of food and friendly marshals. The route was all off road and on typical Lake District tracks and paths with around 6500m of climb. I had been over around 80% of the route before but some of it not for 10 years or so.

Off we went, but at what speed do you start a 100 miler? I set off walking but others were running so I started too. Soon I was in the lead using my poles to get a good speed up the Walna Scar road. Once I started descending I extended my lead and for the rest of the race I did not see another competitor. But it was a great starry night and I enjoy being out alone on a night like that. I was also feeling really strong running up gentle hills without much effort. But the downhills were all sore as I had a bruised heel that seemed to be getting worse. Dawn came as I approached the Blencathra Centre and the clouds were starting to build up, the forecast of heavy rain and wind looked to be pretty accurate. The next section to Dockray passed within a mile of my new house and I had thought I could give up here if the pain in my heel got too much. But it seemed to get better (or maybe everything else was beginning to hurt!!).

I reached Dockray (the 50 mile point) after 11 hour 10 minutes. After a 10 minute break to change my Inov-8 Roclites and Inov-8 socks and eat some more food I set off with a target of 12 hours 40 minutes for the second half in order to break 24 hours. The weather really turned nasty as I decended to Haweswater but I was still feeling strong although everything was sore on the descents. But a mile before Ambleside I hit a very bad patch. Lots of soup and tea and I felt stong enough to fight through the crowds and cars of Ambleside for the next section to Chapel Stile. I thought that I had nearly finished but it was still over 15 miles and 4 hours to go!! I plodded on keen to finish it off as soon as possible and still with 24 hours in my mind. I knew I could do the 24 hours when I got to Tilberthwaite but I did not realise how big the last hill was!!

Eventually I was first back in Coniston after 23 hours 40 minutes. I felt extremely tired and very sore from my knees down. I was well looked after by the marshals and I went to bed in my nearby tent, tired but happy. Through the night the weather got worse and I could hear the thunder but also the occasional cheers of the marshals as there was another finisher.

The route was great and the whole event really well organised. But it was tougher than everyone expected. Joint second were Nick Gracie and Warren Bates in 27 hours and in the end only 11 out of the 31 finished the 100 miler. Most of the 44 who started the 50 miler finished.

results of the 100 | Lakeland 100 website (with kml of route [Google Earth])

Steve Birkinshaw

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