Lakeland 100 Pictures by Thomas Loehndorf
Its now two weeks since the Lakeland 100 race, an amazing experience that I will cherish forever. Here is my account of the race. A lot of it was hazy but it is still a long blog. I think when Marc Laithwaite said 7 I started to get nervous. I really hadn’t up until now. Training had gone okay, the taper perhaps too short though I had done my homework on who was racing. But at 7 seconds until the start of the Lakeland 100 I had a shiver. Was I really going to do this?
The Lakeland 100 is well known as one of the hardest Ultras in the UK with at least a 50% dropout rate and I had seen this first hand last year at the end when I went to see Debbie finish. I was used to the West Highland Way which although in the Highlands of Scotland is certainly far more runnable and far better suited to my style of running. But here I was at the start wondering if this was a good idea. I am sure everyone has these thoughts though and I know that Debbie would tell me to man up. The countdown reached 0 and we were off. The legs were stiff and I wasn't sure if running 4 munros the week before with Andrew Murray in support of his 10 peak challenge with Donnie Campbell was a good idea. Or perhaps it was the taper. No use worrying now as I was here now and running. By the outskirts of Coniston I was already in second place and a bit worried that perhaps it was too fast. Looking back at the race history a lot of people seem to run the start fast but Terry Conway the record holder had done the first section in 1 hour 9 minutes and 10th place at Seathwaite. I was sure I was on this pace but seemed to be in second place. Perhaps the heat had curbed everyones enthusiasm. It was at least 28C and there was even pictures in Facebook of someones car saying 33C although I did take this with a pinch of salt. Whatever the temperature it was warm and sweaty - not helped that we had lay around all day in the tent which made the heat now feel cold.
By Seathwaite I was part of the lead group of three which consisted of Charlie Sharpe, Lee Knight and myself. The running went without a hitch, each of us taking turns to open and close the gates. This group would be perfect for me as I was still unsure about the navigation during the night section and this would suit my plan of trying to take it steady until the morning and then hopefully if I felt good start to race after Pooley Bridge. In the end though this didn't happen.
I was confident though that even this early on in the race that the winner would be one of us 3. Lee seemed to be breathing harder but was in good spirits, Charlie seemed to be taking it all in his stride - looking relaxed and fit. We stayed together as a group all the way to Wasdale. For some reason I was having problems and kept tripping over things and falling. The 3rd time coming into Wasdale was a sore one and as I hobbled a bit into the checkpoint I wondered if it was a fuel problem. I stayed longer in the checkpoint trying to get more food in me and coke which I wouldn't normally take this early in a race. Charlie was in and out very efficiently and was away like a shot. Lee came in slightly behind and then pushed me to leave the checkpoint with him. As Lee and I set off together I could see Charlie making a break ahead. (At the time I thought he was making a break although later when reading his blog Charlie had continued out of the checkpoint still chatting to us but Lee and I were no where near him. Charlie's blog)
As Charlie pushed ahead I worried as I needed him to help navigate during the night as he had done the race before and I really didn't want to lose sight of him, so I pushed hard to try to catch him. Feeling a bit guilty as I slowly left Lee I wasn't making any progress in catching Charlie when suddenly my calfs started to go the tingly way when cramp is near. This was really not good. Cramp in the first 20 miles of a 100 mile race isn’t going to get you very far so I had to let him go and I slowed down to drink more and get some electrolyte in. When I reached the top of the pass I looked down and couldn't see Charlie anywhere all the way down to the Black Sail Hut. I knew from the miles we had done already that Charlie was quicker on the rockier sections and downhill. I had to slow even more on the downhill though as every small slip or misplaced foot had my calf tingling and nearly shooting into cramp. I was annoyed to be affected by this so soon in the race but also happy that it was early on. I had time on my side to fix it and I was still confident that I had in me a podium finish. As I headed up Scarth Gap pass I had to use my head torch. Thinking that Charlie would be doing the same I scanned the route again for any sign of his but there was nothing. He was miles away and I was starting to think that perhaps second place was a good result for a first Lakeland 100. I was worried about the next section as I had had a nightmare on my recce run and that was in daylight. What would it be like in the dark? Again coming down the pass was a tricky affair with the tingly calfs still there but when I reached the water of Buttermere I had a second wind and started to get back running again. Fantastic I thought but this only lasted a couple of minutes when I yet again tripped and fell on the road. Dirty, bleeding and pretty well bashed up I got up to hear a massive cheer from across the water. Charlie had reached the checkpoint at least 10 minutes away, I turned to look at the path behind to see 2 torches gaining on me with the section I feared the most in front of me.
I was in and out of the checkpoint at Buttermere pretty quickly but also felt rejuvenated after a coffee that I had there. I had to get the next stage right or I was going to drop further behind Charlie. By the end of the woods though I had already had to check the Road book 2 or 3 times. This was hopeless and I was never going to catch anyone this way. Then I remembered what Debbie had said about this section - “Cross 3 streams up the scree and then along to the cairn with the sheep fold and then up” So thats what I did - I read ahead in the Road book and summarised each part. I remembered parts from my recce too which helped. After crossing the second stream I could see Charlies torch in the distance and this also gave me a push but he was still a long way ahead. The two torches behind certainly looked closer but I didn't worry. Ill keep trying to navigate myself in front of the two torches but if that doesn't work I can drop back to the two torches behind and they can help navigate and together as a group we might catch Charlie. I guessed that the two torches must be either Lee, Ian Symington or Paul Tierney all of whom had done the race before and would know where to go.
Before long I was on top of Sail Pass, it was a beautiful night - inky black with millions of stars keeping me company. I switched off my torch to get a better look at them - Amazing. I looked back and seemed to have pulled away from the torches behind which really pushed me on. Unfortunately the torch ahead was no-where to be seen. I then managed to go wrong at Low Moss - taking the wrong path which then disappeared and having to retrace my steps again - wasting another few minutes and then more minutes lost when coming into Braithwaite and turning at the wrong sign post even although I knew I had to look for a bench. Even with these route issues though I arrived in Braithwaite to be told that I was 12 minutes behind the leader. With 70 odd miles to go in an ultra 12 minutes is not a sure lead. Its a long way and anything can happen.
Whilst creating my race plan I had spoken to Richie Cunningham who had raced the year before and asked his advise. He had said that his approach was to take it easy to Braithwaite and then hammer it to Howtown and then taking it easy after that. Richie is a better hill runner than me and I like flat running so I was taken aback by this plan. In fact after my recce I decided it might be better to keep something for the end instead. But now as I came out of Braithwaite I decided to change the plan and now push. The good thing was the next 8.5 miles I knew without the Road Book. So I started to pick it up and was happy to see the average pace on my watch drop. When I got to Keswick there was a bunch of spectators and one of them shouted out 9 mins behind the leader. I couldn't believe it - I had caught up 3 minutes in just 2 miles. This pushed me on more as I pushed round Lonscale Fell and caught a glimpse of Charlies Torch. This pushed me on quicker. Now I could see that the torch in front was now and then looking back at me and for the first time I knew that Charlie was worried.
I was nearly at Blencathra when I saw the first torches appear across on Lonscale Fell. I had made great time and now had a comfortable cushion between me and 3rd place. 4th place seemed to be a bit further back again. I wondered who it was and how they were doing. Up front Charlie had pushed because I didn't seem to catch up anymore distance. At the centre I was speaking to the fab Checkpoint staff just as normal when it suddenly dawned on me I was talking to a grown man dressed as a fairy. I wasn't even hallucinating yet but it gave me a laugh and as I left asking what direction do I go. The next bit I was back trying to navigate so I never gained anything but I did know the route from the Quarry to Dockrey off by heart so I decided to take my time until the Coach road and then hammer it (as Richie said) to Dockrey. I never saw Charlie's torch once on the way to the quarry but the moment I was past the farm I spied it ahead perhaps half way up the hill. This got me going again and I took off towards the fence using it to guide me to the coach road. I felt that I was gaining all the way up the hill but was a bit dismayed when I reached the road to see Charlies torch miles away.
I hit the road but just made sure that I kept a consistent pace. It wasn’t long though before I could see Charlie's legs illuminated from his head torch in front. His stride had shortened and he didn’t look as comfortable as earlier on the hills. This gave me another push that I needed and before long I had caught him up. Charlie heard the steps behind and said he was wondering where I had got to. Asking if he was okay he replied that he was just looking forward to the mountains again. Now I had a decision. Trust my dodgy navigation to Dalemain and run by myself or run with Charlie and then risk him getting away in the mountains again when there was no flat sections left for me to catch back up. I ran straight past Charlie. I felt guilty for a moment but then I remembered it was a race and I was here to try and win. When I passed him I felt relief that holding back had worked but I had still kept tabs on Charlie. I had learnt from the mistake of letting someone get too far away from me last year when I didn’t give Paul Giblin the respect he deserved in the WHW and thought that he had gone too hard to early only for him to beat me by an hour.
Into Dockrey and again a fantastic Checkpoint. The feeling of pride to arrive at a checkpoint first and feed from the supporters enthusiasm was overwhelming. They couldn’t do enough for me and I will have fond memories of all the checkpoints on the course. My main aim though was to be out of this checkpoint before Charlie arrived. When I left and crossed the road I heard the cheers as Charlie arrived. I had done it. I was leading and just had to keep myself grounded. I needed this section to go well. There is a lot of road from Dockrey to Dalemain and I remember cursing it during my recce run. Running long distance in a pair of Salomon Ultras that weigh 210g and are actually lighter than my racing flats that I would use for 10k running was always gonna hurt. I had started ultra running in cushioned shoes (although nothing like Hokas) and gradually found that the lower profile shoes actually gave me less injuries. When I ran the recce run I felt every mile of that road section coming up to Dalemain. I just hoped this time would be different.
First though I had to run Aira Force and then Ullswater. More navigation and the chance for Charlie to catch me. So I put the boot in down to the village of Dockrey - sprinting down the road to make sure he wouldn’t have a chance to feed off my head torch like I had his. Onto the off road part I looked round to see if I could see his head torch - nothing so far but I expected him any moment and for the next hour or so it became an OCD - turning round to scan for head torches. A horrible un-itchable itch. I was too busy trying to route find and look for Charlie and ran straight past the turn off and down the hill. Immediately I knew I had gone wrong though and ran back up… Concentrate Marco - Keep doing this and you will throw this away. I reached the climb round Green Hill, remembering Debbie telling me that the sunrise over Ullswater was beautiful. I took a break on the uphill to gaze around and wonder at the views. There was none though, it was still pitch black. I could see a big dark patch that must be the lake and is that a head torch through the trees? A head torch. Damn. I pushed up the hill, my quads screaming until I the path turns north. I scanned behind - nothing. I think I was starting to imagine things or seeing car headlights. I pushed on - remembering that I needed to turn right into the woods but running straight past the turn off. Everything was so different in the dark. Where is the bloody sun. Fighting back through long grass looking for the bridge and thanking God when I reached it.
Into the woods and startling something big when I reached them. Just a deer I shouted at myself - not an alien, flesh eating zombie, velociraptor or another runner catching me up. Out of the woods I start to see more light from the sun coming through and at last I am on open fields and I turn off my torch. It is still a bit dark but I don’t want to give anyone a bearing on where I am. When I reach the road I turn round - scanning for any light from the other runners. There is none. I take a look at the map and memorise the route to Dalemain. Left fork, right junction, left junction, castle, farm track, arch. And then I totally boot it again. I need a comfortable cushion before the hills. I am on road, the sun is up and I feel good. Dalemain is deserted. I half expected the Lakeland 50 runners to be there already but their race didn't start for another 6 hours or so. Running through the car park I hear a couple of cheers from people in their cars and then when I close in on the checkpoint I see a friendly face - my friend Thomas Loehndorf. He was on the course taking pictures.
Like every checkpoint the guys here are fantastic and my drop bag was with me before I had even stopped running. I had a small bag full of all the food I needed for the second half, more nuun tablets, coke and red bull. By this time I had drunk my full of coke but the Red Bull was so so good. I remembered Debbie saying she spent 20 minutes last year here so I was determined to make the stop as fast as possible. 2 cups of coffee and some soup (I think) and I was off, with cheers from the checkpoint and Thomas behind me. I checked my watch and was less than 8 minutes. That will do I thought.
All the way up the hill I kept listening out for a cheer which would tell me when Charlie arrived. As I made my way to Pooley Bridge I hear nothing. Could I start to relax? Although I am certainly not a hill runner I was looking forward to the next few sections. Mostly because I had done them twice in recce’s and so I could put the Route Book and map away for a while. Towards Howtown was beautiful. The sun was up and I was now on my way back to Coniston.
Feeling good I was even not looking back as much as before. I kicked again down the hill, still worried that I would be caught on the hills. I think I startled the guys at Howtown when I arrived but they had everything ready for me. I was starting to get really sick of coke now and so was trying coffee and soup too. I then started the climb up to High Kop. I was walking well up the hill, although I didn't recognise him - I passed Ian Corless (host of the Talk Ultra podcast) who was taking pictures and then onto the small flat section. I tried to get back running again but could only manage a few paces. Then a walk, then a few paces. This continued all the way to the hill. I was trying to think what would fix it - what did I have in my pack. In my haste to leave Dalemain I had put most of the food in my backpack and only a couple of gels were accessible. I couldn't be bothered going in my pack so took a gel and then marched on. Half way up the last climb to High Kop my legs rejected any sort of movement and I came to an abrupt stop. Yikes. Okay I have time. I stopped and took my pack off and rummaged through it. There was nothing in it that I wanted at all. The thing is I know I have to eat so I start to force down bars and gels together. Washing it down with water, gagging on it but knowing that this will help. I am now hit with the worst hunger ever. I was so hungry but nothing I ate filled me up. I had never felt like this in an ultra where I was so hungry as I am used to a support team looking after me and they normally force feed me way before this happens. I turn around to see a small figure making its way slowly past the ruins in the distance. Is that a runner? I look for a while. It doesn't seem to move. Is it Ian or is is Charlie? I stare for longer - is it a sheep? I can’t even tell if it is moving anymore. I swear it was when I first looked but now I am not so sure. Is it a sheep or a rock? I am not staying any longer to find out. I pack my bag back up and swallow another retched bar. From High Kop it is fairly runnable so I push again using the downhill and new found energy to get going again.
During the recce runs I always struggled coming off the hill towards the bridge. No matter what route I took I always ended up having to battle through ferns and today was no different. Tracy Dean had shown me the right way too but the ferns were much higher now and I struggled to find the paths and markers she had pointed out. I wasted at least 10 minutes tearing a new path through them continuously looking up at the hill expecting to see Charlie bounding down towards me. If I do the race again I have to figure out a better way to come down here. When I finally reach the reservoir, which reminds me of the West Highland Way section on Loch Lomond in which I had learnt that even although you are running slow it is actually hard work and so just be patient and take your time. Still it seems to go on forever and my legs are becoming tired. I trip and fall - battering my knee on a rock and then rolling down the side of the hill trying to grab onto something to slow me down. As usual I find something and of course its thorns. Climbing back up the hill and nursing bloodied hands and a sore knee I push on, struggling to get my running form back. It goes on and on but finally I can see the car park at Mardale Head and all of a sudden cheers and the sound of cow bells across the lake. The last few hundred meters feel slow into Mardale and I wonder if the guys at the checkpoint are wondering how I can be the first runner. I am asking how far 2nd place is from me and I think the answer was 20 minutes.
Again the Checkpoint volunteers are superb. Soup / coffee fill the bottles with coke. I think thats what I did but things are starting to get hazy. I have no idea how many miles I have done or how many there is left to do. I have the route in my head, the long squiggly line on its way to Coniston and I still have a third of it to go. My head maybe on a different planet but I am enjoying the run as I start the grind up Gatesgarth Pass. I think this is where being a fast walker comes in handy as I again push the up hill, each step pushing on my knees with my hands. I often wonder if poles would be a good idea for these climbs but I would break my neck tripping over them. Running 24 hours on a running track hasn’t prepared me for the off road nature of this course which I am struggling to not bash my toes on every rock never mind throwing in a couple of poles to trip over too. Finally at the top and I have the nice long downhill to look forward to, but my knee is really beginning to ache and what should be a pleasant rest bite ends up a teeth clenching battle. I give in and take painkillers hoping they will ease it and then I battle more with each uneven boulder wrenching the knee in a different direction. While it has been a couple of weeks now since the race I must admit a lot of the rest of it is pretty hazy. The lack of food and sore knee taking their toll I suppose. The rest of this report won’t go into as much detail - you will be glad to hear.
I finally arrived at Kentmere. Well actually I am awoken from my dazed state by Jenn Gaskell screaming “Its Marco - I didn't know you were running today!!” I have to admit Jenn’s enthusiasm is infectious. I had met her a year ago at the Lakeland 100 when my wife had introduced me and then again at the Tooting 24 hour where after she pulled out of the race she had the unenviable task of counting my laps during the night but still she smiled and laughed with me the whole time. Today was no different and her enthusiasm woke me up from my haze and I started to think what I needed to get going again. “Anything savoury - no sweet stuff” I blurt out. Immediately they are giving me water and nuts. I choke on the water spitting it out all over the checkpoint and then can’t chew the nuts as my teeth are too sensitive and so spit them out. The checkpoint volunteers think I am about to be sick and follow me about with buckets. They give me pasta which I wouldn't normally eat during an ultra but it goes down so well that I guzzle the whole lot up. “How far is second behind?” I blurt out thinking that he must be catching me up by now. The timing guy is at the checkpoint and tells me that Charlie is an hour behind. I can finally relax I think and then more good news, Debbie is leading the girls race.
Coming out of the checkpoint I am finding it harder to remember where the route goes and have to ask Jenn for the directions. I do remember though that it is a hill all the way to Garburn Pass and with the knee getting sorer and sorer when I start running I am glad of the hill. At the top I have to push to get going again into Troutbeck but once going the pain subsides and I manage some good running on my way to Ambleside. I am sure its only 16 miles from here but the Garmin has run out of batteries and I am in the dark. Reaching Ambleside, I am again feeling hazy. There are certainly food issues and as I write this I am struggling to remember anything. Most of it feels like a dream that I am trying to latch onto fading memories. What I do remember is the Checkpoint crews. Everyone of them were absolutely superb.
In Ambleside I immediately recognise Clare from the recce runs who seems a bit bemused when I say I want to go into the checkpoint. I ask again how far second is behind me and again it is an hour and so I decide to eat and drink as much as I can. By now I am wasting a lot of time at checkpoints and Clare mentions that they had expected me at 10:30. It is now 11:30 and the food and knee issues are slowing me down but as long as I keep going forward I should be ok. I must have spent over 10 minutes at Ambleside before I start my hobbled run across the park. I feel so slow that I am embarrassed but I hear a spectator say to her kids that she can’t believe I am running so fast still. It gives me a push.
The trails are now getting busy and I am meeting people that know about the race or people that probably after seeing the state I am in - ask me how far I have ran and then probably don’t believe the answer. It doesn't matter anyway as the conversations and support get me going again. Although I am really enjoying these final sections it feels like I am going painfully slow. By now it is really warm which is also not helping. When I look back at my timings in these sections I am not slow but at the time it felt it. The distances between checkpoints are much shorter now but the time drags. Running towards Chapel Style I am awoken from my hazey slog by cheers from Paul and Vicky Hart. I can’t believe they are down here and the support helps push me on. Then another spectator cheers me on and I shout back that I am going painfully slow. They tell me that I am flying and no-one will catch me if I keep it up. This gives me another push and I manage to run non-stop all the way to the checkpoint. Chapel Style was the first place I sat down since the start. Just a couple of minutes. The settees where just too inviting. At every checkpoint since Ambleside I am asking for pasta but none had any so I was just drinking soup and again Chapel Style was the same. I haven't eaten anything from my rucksack since High Kop and now surviving on whatever I find at the checkpoints. (at the end of the race I was carrying not just the 400 calories emergency food you are required to carry but another 2000 calories of uneaten food and gels.)
The run towards Tiberthwaite was warm, very warm but by now it was starting to dawn on me that unless something disastrous happened I would win. I couldn't quite believe it and got a little emotional as I dragged myself towards the end. I was still emotional when I reached Tiberthwaite and it didn't make it any easier when they had specially made me pasta as they had heard I’d been asking for it for the last few checkpoints. Oh and it was so good - I honestly can say it was the best pasta I had ever tasted and then when I asked for energy drink they said that they had none but 2 minutes later one of the crew appeared with her own energy drink and filled my bottle. Thank you so much to everyone at Tiberthwaite - I don’t know any of your names but as I left the Checkpoint I felt so much better but still pretty emotional. Half way between Tiberthwaite and the end I met a man that had been following the race online. I stopped and chatted to him for ages. Much longer than I should have but it just felt right. Every now and then I would scan the route behind just to be 100% sure that none was coming. Then just one more downhill and my God it hurt my knee so much. I was in agony but when I reached the road it started to feel better as the adrenaline hit me with the finish so near. The run through Coniston was amazing. People were cheering and I ran along the middle of the road. Cars stopped for me (in my haze I probably gave them no choice but at the time I thought they had stopped for me). Debbie had told me this was amazing and she wasn't wrong. Then I saw my friend Karen with a Scottish flag which I grabbed for the end and as I ran the final few meters I couldn't believe that all these people were cheering me on and then that was it. All that planning and months of preparation and training finished too. Its a strange feeling to finish a race - you are so relieved but sad at the same time.
Thomas was at the finish too, Karen had come down too and they both helped me into the hall for a final kit check and my medal. Until now I had always thought of my race as being the West Highland Way race. Not because I was good at it or done well at it but because I felt like part of it. It was like family and I never thought that any race could be as important to me as it was. Even when I started the Lakeland 100 race and lined up at the start it was just another race. Sure I knew it was a big race - one of the biggest I had ever done and I had not been blasé about it and had done all the prep before hand but it was just a race. That changed during my journey in this race. The race is massive - from the moment you arrive the organisation is top notch with all the volunteers really happy and enthusiastic. From the guys standing in the car park to the people at the registration. Then you have the checkpoint crews, one word - legends. These guys are out there longer than I was looking after every runner. They saved my race. The runners that were out there - it doesn't matter if it was 21 hours or 40 hours. Actually I don’t know how the runners out there for two nights do it. All legends. Mark, Terry, Clare, the Montane guys - thank you for a marvellous race that is one of the best organised events I have ever done. I am sure I have missed loads of people - thank you everyone involved with the race. Thomas - without your help I don’t know where I would be. Your training advice and friendship got me here. Karen - thank you for all the help at the end. That ice cream was amazing Thank you to my sponsor UVU Racing for having faith in me. …. And of course Debbie who won the girls race - “We did it!!!!! “
So what went right and what went wrong?
As Stuart Mills often talks about in his blog a race is won or lost not in how your physical condition is but how mentally fit you are. I went into the race with bags of confidence. I had in the last year raced 4 ultras before now, 2nd in the WHW, first in Tooting, G2EDM and Crawley with 2 course records. Physically too though I was prepared having spent a month doing hills and with the endurance from the 12 hour still in my legs. I had felt tired after doing the 4 munros the week before but this can be because of the taper. So physically and mentally I felt in good shape. I had gone through the start list and picked out 8 runners that could win, most of them having done it before, I checked where they were strong and how they had raced before. How had Terry got the record, where he pushed and where he took it easy. This all helps me mentally prepare for a race. If someone pushes the start I know whether to follow or leave him. Don't get me wrong - this doesn't always work as people can surprise you like Paul Giblin surprised me with his awesome West Highland Way race last year (which he yet again destroyed this year) but mostly it works and it gives me bags of confidence. In fact I was surprised when chatting to some of the other runners that they didn't know who was running the race or what they could do. In some ways I was glad that I had entered late and got a charity entry as I was in a different start list than everyone else and so hidden from view. Paul Tierney asked me on the start line if I had got a late entry and even this gave me confidence. I spoke to Stuart Mills at the end and he had said that in his eyes I have started to run better not because I am physically fitter but because I am mentally fitter and with every good race I have more confidence and I believe this helps me more than anything in a race.
Food was a big issue in this race. It went well the first half - I was eating loads of Jelly Babies and the best tasting gels ever - Torq (whom Debbie is sponsored by and so I nicked a pile of them) I was drinking coke a lot earlier than I wanted to though and this is normally is what I would count on when I have food issues and so when I did I couldn't drink anymore. I also had a load of bars that when it is warm and you are dehydrated are a struggle to eat. It was a lot warmer than I thought it would be so struggled to eat them too. At Dalemain I only had the same food I had eaten the rest of the way and so was pretty bored of that by then. In the second half - all I wanted was savoury and so just ate what I could find at the checkpoints - soup, pasta and coffee. This saved my race but also probably slowed me down a bit too as I think you need sugar to keep up a good pace. I started to feel hazy, completely stopping and having to force feed my self on the way up High Kop and making small navigation errors. If a runner had caught me in the second half I wonder if I could have stayed with them as I was having to take longer stops at the checkpoints to get food in.
The weather. It was very warm during the race. I really don't mind the heat but I did suffer from the cramp calfs early on and in pictures I can see I was sweating a bit more than I should. It made a big difference too on the food and I think it affected what I was able to eat later on. I really think I could be faster on this course if it had been a cloudy cool day. Saying that though the course was as dry as a bone due to the weeks of dry weather before hand so this was helpful too.
Would I run the race again? Most definitely. I loved the race, the support, the organisation. Its a fantastic event and definitely should be on every UK Ultra runners to-do list. I think I could improve my time with better weather and hopefully knowing the course a bit better. Hopefully I will get the chance to in the future.
Thank you to Thomas for all the pictures