Great Langdale 1/2 marathon race report

This has got to be one of the most spectacular road races in the UK, taking in Great Langdale, Elterwater, and Little Langdale. As the name suggests, it’s not an event for the fainthearted, or anyone looking for a PB. The marathon took place at the same time – a dedicated crew of about 50 prepared to run the whole hilly circuit – twice.

The most worrying bit wasn’t the race but parking in ‘Mark’s field’ as helpfully described in the race notes. Like the rest of the area ‘Mark’s field’ has been subjected to torrential rain during the night and I didn’t want to have to call in the services of a tractor to get my car out again.

Judging by the race numbers around 400 runners made up the half marathon field but with a relentlessly undulating and twisting course I soon found myself running with a only a smattering of others, the rest of the field presumably galloping on ahead. Luckily I’d got a last-minute running companion and we talked our way around the first 10 miles or so, while the miles seemed to come and go against the most stupendous backdrop of mountains. We might as well have been running in a 3d postcard.

The hills were relentless all the way, with some gradients that had us going faster than the tourists in cars who had foolishly decided to spend the day driving in first gear only. In fact that was the only negative impression of the day – encountering a few examples of that under-evolved species for whom a day out in the Lakes consists of installing their arrogant butts behind the wheel of some petrol-guzzling monstrosity and behaving as if everyone else on the planet was a total nuisance stopping them doing 40 miles/hr along single track lanes.

We just kept plodding, with half an eye on my watch indicating something around 9 min miling. At the 10 mile point we had 25 mins to go until 2 hrs so decided to push a bit for the final part. This proved hard enough to stop even our conversation in its track, with a seemingly flat valley floor in fact concealing enough ascent for the lactic acid to begin stacking up in my legs and was naturally where the photographer was stationed no doubt getting some very flattering pics of our neon red mugs as we lumbered past.

I’d been told to expect 15 mins. on my usual 1/2m time (1.51-1.56) so was quite pleased in the end, to come in dead on the 2 hr mark, feeling very grateful I didn’t have to go around a second time like some poor sods were doing. Maybe a 1.45 autumn ½ is within the realms of possibility after all. No idea of final position as the results were still being collated on little sticky labels as we were leaving (I did ask whether they would be posted on the Internet: ‘The Internet!’ replied the organiser, ‘I haven’t even got a telephone!’).

Anyway, the time really was of minor significance. The organisation was good with that kind of homespun eccentric quality that’s a million miles away from big brand sports drink logos, pop music, and all the better for it in my book. And with a T shirt included in the £8 entry fee it met the good value criteria as well. Got my car out without incident too. This race has now firmly entered the top of my annual must-do list (with Coniston 14 coming in second) and I’m sure any of you who fancied a weekend in the Lakes would enjoy it just as much.

Feel absolutely shattered and ravenous tonight, in that post-race way that isn’t so much a good appetite as an urge to get as much carbohydrate of any description into my face. Right, now who mentioned that pizzathon?


  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Sounds like an enjoyable "day out". Your training must be paying off as well. Did you use your HRM?
  • Of course! Averaged 179 (about 84% WHR), that's bang on my previous 1/2m HR and it was remarkably consistent considering how uneven the course was.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    I didn't use mine today in Glasgow - thankfully. I think my heart rate would have been the same as a recovery run!
  • Sounds like a really good race Laura and congratulations on your time. I though my HR was high!
  • Well, I was there as well.......

    Got stuck on the parking field as soon as we drove on. Pushed the car out, and pulled a muscle in my back in the process. Started anyway, and ignored the twinges in my knee till they went from 'twinge' to 'pain' and decided it was better to heed my physios warning and pull out. So I only saw the first 5 miles of the course.

    Dreadful day, my first DNF, it's a thoroughly demoralising experience.

    None of this is a reflection on the race itself of course, which was as good as Laura L has described it. I'll certainly be back next year, cruciate ligaments permitting.
  • Well done on the time. Mine was 2:06, almost exactly 15 mins slower than my PB set a few weeks ago at Burnham Beeches, so maybe you’re on for a PB busting run soon.

    This was an excellent race and whilst the physically the hardest half I've done, mentally it was the easiest because of the stunning scenery and 'varied' terrain. The mile markers just flew past, even though I was just plodding along. I really enjoyed the slightly disorganised, amateurish feel to it and everything seemed to pass off successfully. As a walker and a climber who’s been to Langdale many, many times it was a bit of a struggle to run past the ODG without popping in for a pint though…..

    I’d thoroughly recommend this race to everyone, but you’d have to be pretty tough to do the marathon. With the number of hills it’s got to rival the Snowdonia marathon one for the ‘toughest’ in the UK title.
  • Brilliant report, Laura. Well done! I can feel my legs starting to ache just reading about it. What a good time, too. You'll just laugh at those "hills" on the GNR while us city kids struggle and wheeze.

    Well done George, too. Slowboy, sorry to hear things didn't go as well as you'd hoped. I know I'd have lasted no more than 5 miles on a course like that even WITHOUT an injury, so I'm still impressed.

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • Nonsense Vrap, all those hill walks will have your quads more than prepared I'm sure. Anyway, didn't you also do a 1/2 m yesterday one way or another?

    Sorry to hear you had to pull out Slowboy, hmm so the parking was definitely a liability then. At least you had the courage to pull out when you needed to instead of making the damage worse. Must be demoralising though. Know what you mean about the ODG George. You're right, mentally it's easier with such a stunning route. Yes, I was wondering how it compared with Snowdonia. Not thinking of finding out!
  • well done to all, the scenery sounds absolutely wonderful, makes city centres seem so tame!
  • Sounds EPIC. What an amazing course description, certainly sounds tougher than hell but thoroughly enjoyable as well.
    Well done.
  • Great race report Laura, it sounds just my kind of run! I'm impressed with your time on what was obviously a tough hilly course. A PB is in the making!

    Well done everyone else who did this great sounding race and chin up and don't worry if you had to pull out. Better to have done the sensible thing rather than make injuries worse. There's always another day and another race.
  • Do you think there were 400 runners, Laura? I didn't attempt a proper count, but I reckoned on around 150, with about another 40 poor sods doing the marathon.

    In an earlier thread, I asked how it compared to Leek. My time was within a few seconds (1:48). Nevertheless, this one was definitely worse! It will be a few days before I can run again.
  • Andy, I agree it seemed nothing like 400, maybe the other 250 sensibly thought the better of it! When the results come, assuming they got those labels into the correct order in the end, I'll have a look.

    Well done on your time, you must have run very hard. Did you see the guy pushing another guy in a wheelchair? I believe he was doing the marathon.
  • Laura - I did push it hard on the downhill & the flat (not much of that!) to make up for being slow on the hills. Given that I'm definitely NOT a runner, I was pleased with my time. Actually, I do remember seeing a girl come in on exactly 2 hours - that must have been you.

    Yes, I did see the wheelchair - I wonder if they made it twice around. My Dad saw some guy with his knee heavily bandaged hobbling fairly early on, and he was doing the marathon. My Dad reckoned that he had no chance! It'll be interesting to see how many people actually made it around for a second time.
  • Only just seen this - not really my sort of run at the moment, but sounds like a cracker. Well done Laura.
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