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?