It’s the Lake District, yeah that’s the place with big mountains and I’m checking into a lovely hotel the day before the race. All is calm, the legs feel great, I’m relaxed. The evening is spent with a stroll around Ambleside and a meal at a great restaurant called Zapherellie. Now with my appetite met it’s back for a good nights sleep.
The alarm wakes me. It’s 6am and as soon as breakfast was finished, which was a 6 banana smoothie with rice milk, it was down to the start area and into the registration tent for race number and full kit inspection. Kit carried included a waterproof top and bottom, spare long sleeved base layer , hat and gloves, small first aid kit, small water bottle and snack bar which was for emergency only and food during the race (10 dates and jelly sweets) surplus to the check point snacks.
The clock’s sticking away to the 11am race time and my apprehension grows by the minute. This is my first ultra race. The Batala Lancaster performance group begin to bang those drums. We are called to the line and this it- 7 months training put into action.
The sounder booms and we are off.
I can hear those drums begin to fade and be replaced with spectators cheers and claps. There’s a whole town and many tourists who turned out to see the race spectacle. At this point I’m thinking ‘this is absolutely awesome’ and this didn’t change as those claps and cheers fade and became the sound of a soft wind and runners feet hitting the now hilly trails, heading up snake pass and to the first check point.
I’m feeling great after the first climb and decent and this continued up and through Glenridding until around the 25k point. At this point my legs are starting to know they’re being tested, but there’s another big climb up and over Grisedale Hause and now heading back towards Grasmere.
Thank goodness for the check point in the Langdale Valley! I take my time here at 37k. My legs are hurting and my feet I know are swollen, I can feel blisters. They won’t stop me though. After a good 5 minutes I’m ready to go again. Through another check point this time I’m setting off with two other runners. None of us speak to each other, it’s energy saving time now. We all sense how each other feels it’s pretty obvious, there’s grit and determination now and without a word egg each other on.
I can hear the mega phone of the race commentator back at the finish. The spectators grow in numbers, and yes ! I’m back in the park where the race began. I can now hear voice after voice shouting me on, my emotions are brewing and there she is, the finish line. I’m home and I’m overwhelmed. The medal is put over my head, I hear those words ‘well done’ and I know right there that I’ve achieved something massive. I’ve never been so proud of the medal and the finishing t-shirt.
This trail race has to be the most scenic but hardest races I’ve ever done.
My legs hated me for days afterwards and my swollen feet have told me I deserve a good three weeks break.
My mind tells me to go again, and I will. You can count on it.