Lakes in a Day 2022

So laying here in torch light and I’m thinking “how did I get here and why did I come” I did do this event in 2019 when I was fitter and it bloody hurt then. I’m no where near as endurance or run fit now but here I am 🤦. I entered back in 2020, Covid stopped play and it got moved to 2021, injury stopped play and I applied for a refund (I kind of wish I’d gone through with that at this moment 🤣) I changed my mind, send an email and moved to this year and here I am. I’d kind of lost motivation to train for it and really haven’t done as much as I should. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I’m fit enough to finish but to what pain? This is the question. I have put as much running and hills training in as I can but only in the last 6 weeks, while trying not to do too much and get injured again.

Am I looking forward to it? “Yes! Yes I am”

Am I nervous? “Yes! Very.

Will I have a fantastic adventure tomorrow? “Of course I will, it’s the Lake District”

So after having a relaxing morning and a lovely breakfast with Babs and JB. I checked I have everything packed and loaded for one last time. Then I set off for the long lonely drive to Cartmel. Parked up at the racecourse, had a chat with the marshals and made my way over to the school to register, got my number/tracker/map/drop my shower stuff and change of clothes off for after the event, also put spare socks and spare trainers in a drop bang for a change at Ambleside. There was a queue and it started raining, well what would you expect? Got talking to a bloke called Justin, nice bloke. He was on his second attempt, bailed at Ambleside last time in terrible conditions. He mentioned he has a 30% off code for the inov 8 site, top man👍🏻The food van was late opening so got chatting to an older chap, it was his 3rd time 💪🏻 age shouldn’t hold you back from challenges. It eventually opens and we finally got food, the foot long was worth the wait though ummmm

Right! My kit is laid out ready for morning. Number is on my shorts. Tracker is attached and working. Everything is on charge again. Alarm is set for 4:40am (10 min walk to the transfer bus in the morning, departing at 5:45am) it’s a bit chilly in the van but not as bad as a tent would be. Hopefully I get some good sleep 🤞🏻 will update after tomorrow. Wish me luck you lovely people.

5:51am

Sleep solid until 2am then on and off until my alarm, followed by the marshals wake up calls. A bit of cold coffee from yesterday and a small amount of granola, 2 toilet visits, all my kit on because it’s raining and a bit fresh. Sat on the bus just setting off to the start in Caldbeck, where I have a bacon bap and coffee hopefully waiting 🙏🏻.

So all finished and the day after…Sunday the 9th.

I’m currently laid in my van after popping in to see David and Karen near Doncaster. Had a nice catch and they fed and watered me. They went to see friends so as I’m in bits and not ready to drive yet, I thought I’d start a bit of trying to explain how yesterday went.

So after the long quite 80min bus trip up north,we reached Caldbeck. A lovely little village nestled in north Cumbria. There is a lot more people doing this than 3 years ago and it was busy. Luckily there were more toilets this time and an extra food van. I’d ordered my food in the Goodfellows arms. I waited to get served and mentioned my pre order, I did say don’t worry I’ll just order now. No no I have it ready for you she said. Well 15 mins later I got it 😩 after watching at least 7 others order and get there’s first. Nevermind, I had nothing else to do. Well I had spotted Justin on the way in but he’d gone by the time I got food and went over to where he was. The sandwich was nice though and afterwards a last visit to the loo then it’s time for getting to the start.

7:53am nearly start time.

Off we go. Nice and steady was my strategy and save it for later. This seemed to be working. I felt great and although I was a long way back, I was holding my place and even passing a few people. The first stage starts on a short bit of road then it’s kind of open fell to the saddleback of Blencathra. It’s very boggy under foot and very soon have to come to terms with my very bad trainer selection. I’d bought some Walsh fell trainers a few weeks ago, tested them once and thought they’d do the job. Unfortunately although very good grip in the bog and wet grass, they were terrible on rock and didn’t sit right with my feet. This made descending dangerous and uneasy and hurt my feet bad. I had to tie them so tight to try a minimise the movement my feet throbbed. No excuses it’s my fault and now I had to live with that, until Ambleside at least, to get my drop bag and trail trainers. We soon reached the mandatory summit of high pike, where for some reason I never took a pic, shame on me. Like I said this was an open fell section but this was a mandatory bit we must do, the rest is pick what route you want. Basically everyone follows the person in front anyway. Then the other mandatory part is the aided river crossing, which was only knee deep but very fast flowing. Here’s a couple of pics leading up to and at Blencathra summit.

Then it’s just the small matter of Halls fell down to Thelkeld and the first feed station. Halls fell is a great scramble, one of my favourites. I’ve ran down it loads of times and was looking forward to doing it again. Although today it was wet and very slippery, I don’t think the trainers helped. Also there was a lot of nervous people going down, so was conscious not to put them under to much pressure but also wanting to go faster so was passing them curiously.

Just off the top on Halls fell.

Got to the bottom with no falls although was very difficult with these trainers. Had a quick snack, rest and stock up on water at the feed station. Took 2 small cheese sandwiches, 2 Seren bars and a cup of tea with me and started walking. Ate a sarnie and finished my brew, packed my cup away and started off slowly under the A66 and up the B road towards the Cough head climb. This is a tough stomp up, fairly steep and mostly grass and not much of a path on the bottom. The wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped now, so jacket was back on. I was pleased to reach the top of this one.

On the way up
Nearly there.
One happy boy.

Now for the long run over the tops, up and down with great views. Jacket was on then off then on. It was very windy and heavy rain at times but I felt quite good, knackered but ok. Was still consciously holding back too. I read and replied to a few messages on this section. Apparently my tracker or the site wasn’t working well along here. Nothing I could do about that really but let people know where I roughly was. Regardless of the ever changing weather the views were fantastic and I even got the view off Helvellyn over looking striding edge pic as requested by Gasman.

Although I felt ok all could I think about was taking these trainers off and I wasn’t looking to the descent down to Grisedale tarn one bit. It’s a steep rocky descent and normally I love this kind of descending but not today and not with the pain I felt in my feet now. I did get down fairly well to be fair, I just excepted the trainers and stuck to as much grass as possible. Yeah I wasn’t confident in them but end of the day I had to get on with it. Now for another big sting in the tail…Fairfield!!! This is a horrible steep loose stone trail, even on fresh legs. There was a lot of groaning not just me, going up this beast. Another one ticked off.

From the top of Fairfield.

Back to Doncaster…

I’m going have a break now and finish my drive home. I’m in a lot of pain this morning, just pain and aches so nothing serious but everything is an effort. I feel rested enough now to drive some more, so in the good words of our mate Arnie “I’ll be back”

Sunday when I finally got home. I’m not in pain honest.

Right it’s Monday the 10th 10:14am. I’m feeling a bit better today, was feeling very broken yesterday and that’s an understatement. It’s kind of amazing how much better I feel today if I’m honest, my body and it’s recovery always blows my mind. The rest of my drive home felt harder than the last 7 miles of the ultra and the pain was all over. From my toes to my ears, my back decided to join in as well, thanks back. But rest, good food, Ibuprofen, gallons of red wine and a good nights sleep and I’m already thinking about my next run 🤣.

So back to Saturday, where was I ? Oh yes Fairfield. What a sneaky little beast. The descent into Ambleside from here is pure evil. Its a lot further than you imagine even though I’ve done it before and know this, it’s still evil. Boggy, rocky and endless but it wasn’t that bad for me this time. I dropped in behind two locals and followed their so called best line 🤣 listening to them chat away was priceless. One from Windermere (Richard) and one from somewhere on the coast (very very posh and eccentric) well I learnt about cows, gaming, Starlink and how he’d (Posh, I didn’t get his name, I’ll call him Tim) done some work for them ,just for fun 🤔. Anyway it was a great distraction and I even learned all the bad lines to take as they hit them all 🤣. Too busy chatting, they basically took every line they were going to avoid, hilarious. After the last scramble and bog we came on to the runnable gravel track which would lead us into Ambleside. This is when my day got different. Up until here I felt great, yeah I was knackered and aching but generally in good shape. I was even looking forward to getting some pace on the nice flowing gravel tracks ahead. Then as I started to pick up pace STAB!!!! NOOOOOO!!!

A sharp stabbing pain in my right knee, I nearly went down. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock for a few seconds while I watched Rich and Tim move away and others came past. I walked it off, it felt ok again, started to jog and Stab! Bugger! Well I soon came to terms with the fact that the rest of this run was going to get very interesting. I hobbled my way to the feed station and got my long awaited trainers, I couldn’t get them things off quick enough, no seriously I couldn’t 🤣. It felt amazing to get them torture trainers off but I felt slightly guilty as I looked at my fresh dry trail trainers, looking back at me, keen to get going. I didn’t have the heart to tell them we’d be walking.

I absolutely stuffed my face here. 5 slices of pizza, 6 slices of orange, 2 bits of melon, a cup of tea and a cup of full fat coke. My idea was get full have 10 mins, fill my bottles up and walk the first mile. Give me time recover, food settle and loosen up a bit. It took a lot of discipline to not start running, I actually felt really good which was frustrating because I really wanted to put a strong run in on this part. It’s flattish gravel trails and lovely countryside but I stuck to the plan and felt the need to tell anyone that passed “I’m walking the pizza off ” Anyway after a mile I start to jog, no no no! It’s still there 🤬 well it was like this for another 3 miles, fast walking and slow short trots, until the pain got too much then walk. I messaged the pubride WhatsApp group, they’d been following my dot and giving messages of support. They were starting to predict my finish time, so I needed to give them the bad news. Loads more messages of support followed, giving me an enormous amount of energy and drive. Soon I started to enjoy that little stabbing pain, it’s my running buddy, we’ll stick together and finish this, no matter what. I had had thoughts of bailing, I think that’s natural and part of the process but that was not an option now. I’ll crawl across the line if I had too. I was now managing a very slow plod but I was happy to be not walking. I was even passing other broken runners, I was buzzing, invincible. Then this happens, absolutely breathtaking.

Full moon lighting up Windermere. 19:27

I’d spotted the moonrise while running through the wood, coming down from Claife heights but seeing it over the lake was a massive boost. I took a moment to take it in, then packed my phone away into its waterproof case and put it and my jacket in my backpack. The jacket had been tied around my waist and the next bit by the lake is renowned for being anywhere from ankle deep to waste deep. Today was only knee deep so it wasn’t bad and it possibly helped to ease my knee a bit, so again my mood lifted even more. I probably felt the most positive I’d felt all day at this point, dare I say it? I was bloody loving it. Pain was with me and I was ok will that. I was slow and was ok with that. It was a lovely mild for October evening, full moon and the sky is clear. I’m still catching people and checking their ok, discuss or pain and I politely shuffle off. I was following another shuffler as we realised we missed the path, only slightly. Then I recognise him, it’s Rich from earlier. We stayed together to the feed station at Finsthwaite. The best feed station ever! I definitely over indulged here 🤣 a cup of Leek and potato soup, dipped 2 cheese on toast in this (French bread slices) a packet of cheese puffs, a few little cheese sausage roll type things, a cup of tea and a ham and cheese on toast to finish ummmm. Full.

21:23

I nearly got too comfy here as people came and went but I was a happy chap and only 11km to go. I didn’t care if I had to walk as I was full, had enough water, had a banana to take and I was warm enough. Mind it was very cold when I left but I expected that, so I’d already layered up. Walked to and through the gate into the field, then started my shuffle, with target lights in the distance. Why am I so happy at this point? My breathing was blurring my vision from the head torch, I’m talking to myself and realise this then laugh, is laughing at myself any different to talking to myself? Who cares 🤣 I pass the odd pain bearer and then as I pass another, slowly. He sees his opportunity to get in my jet stream. Or maybe he see how slow I am he thinks it’s time for him to get on the Beagle train. I’m glad he did as we had a great chat about things and he reminded me of my mate Phil C, sounded exactly the same. So it kind of felt I was with Phil. Unfortunately after a few miles he stopped to put his drink bottle in his bag and we’d caught a few others at this point. I asked if he wanted me to help, I think he did but he politely said no. I carried on and slightly regretted not waiting and staying with him until the end. Through some cow fields, up again then down then up, then on to road!! This is it. I know this now, it’s all road to the finish. Mark nearly killed me on this 3 years ago and know I was trying to kill myself. Now this pain in my knee was immense, it wasn’t letting me finish without it and it was stronger than me. Man them 2-3 miles of mainly down hill was hard and slow but I did what I could. Strangely still able to pass 2 or maybe 3 more people, my memory is kind of blurred on this part, until I see the racecourse. This is where I’m parked. Yep we run past the campsite to the finish, love it. No temptation for me though, focussing on the finish and thinking about the hot shower. Also I can see another runner, I’m having him. He’s walking so I gain on him, then he jogs, bugger he’s faster. Walking again I’m catching, this carries on like a comedy sketch through the village. I must pick my pace up and finally catch him. Hey mate (it’s Rich again) it’s actually here when we exchange names. We run in and finish together, I few people cheer us in and I nearly fall into the lady putting the medal over my head. That’s it then, always an anticlimax but we’re buzzing and a bit wobbly ha ha. We congratulate each other then I head to get my drop bags. The bloke in the hall asked if I was ok with a smile on his face, I laughed and so did he. He helped me find my stuff and directed me to the showers. That was a mission on its own but I felt good afterwards. Hobbling through the hall and outside to get my meal (well small bowl of warm food) went back in and sat next to Rich. We chatted and laughed and finally realised the time, nearly 1am now. Blimey. When I caught him I said come on we need to finish still in Saturday. Funny thing is we didn’t even look when we crossed the line and only checked at this point. 23:55 boom 💥

We walked back to the campsite together , he was camping and I was in the van. Laters Rich, nice to meet you hopefully see you again. And that’s it, we go on with our lives, mental. Although I know I’ll bump into him again and Justin and Tim and maybe Phil although I didn’t really see what he looked like. It always happens like this, you create a bond once your path crosses like this and at some point it will cross again.

The start of my slow painful drive home.
The sore on my leg from my phone. Don’t know why I missed this out of the story.

Reflecting now my aches are easing and pain has subsided.

So I spent most of the run telling myself this is it, the last one. I couldn’t understand why I was doing it, kind of going through the motions I guess. My mind isn’t on running at the moment or biking or wing foiling or surfing. It’s on all of these, I love them all in different ways. But from Ambleside when it became real and personal, this is when realised. It doesn’t matter what you do just do it, challenge yourself, break yourself, you don’t have to be the best you just have to be the best you. When you think you can’t go on but you just do, you become the best part of yourself. Meeting others while you and they are in that state is special. You become a human being!!!!

I’d just like to say a few things I don’t mention in the write up.

The organisation of this event is top notch. From the marshals at the race course, organising us and even giving a wake up call to make sure we don’t miss the bus. The buses are a very high standard. The marshals at the school, at the start, the finish,on the course, at the feed stations, on bag transfer and behind the scenes was absolutely the best. The signage off the fells was spot on and perfectly positioned. I’m so pleased this event happens and the setup and organising is outstanding.

Well done and thank you to Durty Events for taking it on and to Open adventure for starting it. Oh and James Thurlow for coming up with the route.