Archive for November, 2015

Recce 1: An Account By A First Time 100 Runner Jane Woodburn

Recce 1: Lakeland 100 – Coniston to Buttermere

Having completed the Lakeland 50 in 2014 and marshalled the event at Dalemain in 2013 and 2015, and having done the LDWA Red Rose 100 in May 2015, I decided to take the plunge and enter the Lakeland 100. So, on Saturday afternoon I headed north on the M6 to Keswick; at the Crosthwaite Parish Halls it was great to see some familiar faces: Jo, Chris and Terry from Epic Events, and Richard from The Endurance Store, as well as having the chance to put faces to names familiar from Facebook, and meeting other fellow entrants.

After a brew and a biscuit we all sat down to listen to the wisdom of Paul Tierney, winner of the Lakeland 100 in 2015. Paul provided us with an excellent and humorous account of his journey to victory, followed by a very interesting question and answer session; we all now know that we need to practice kneeling on the floor if we want to run faster! Terry then gave an overview of what we might expect on the route, giving information about bogs, hills and bridges, how we could get back to Buttermere if we were unable to continue the run – and how long we might have to wait should we choose that option! Some people headed to the pub in Keswick after the talks but, as I had decided to stay in Buttermere for ease in the morning, I went straight to the Youth Hostel. After a beer with some fellow recce-ers we all headed to bed.

At 6:30am the girls dorm was awoken by 5 simultaneous alarms, all playing different tunes. Dressed and breakfasted we walked down the road to meet the coach; the area was already crowded with people ready for the first (official) recce of the 2016 race; it was a very reasonable temperature for 1st November; grey skies, but dry, and the forecast was good. The buses arrived and, after some excellent manoeuvring, were ready to board. Jo reminded us of emergency procedures, and the necessity of signing in at each checkpoint, and then we were off. The drive to Coniston took nearly 2 hours, reminding us of what we were about to take on, but at the same time, how little of the course we were to complete today, in comparison to the challenge we had set ourselves for July 2016.

1: Coniston to Seathwaite: 7 miles, ascent: 2162’, descent: 1988’

We set off from John Ruskin School in Coniston in overcast conditions and headed up out of the village; I was with local friends: Chris, Tash, Steve and Dave. As we started up the track and then turned left over the Miner’s Bridge onto Walna Scar Road, it became increasingly claggy; this was probably no bad thing as it meant we couldn’t see the endless zigs and zags that were heading up into the mist. Chris, Tash and Steve soon pulled away from Dave and me; the next time we saw them was in the pub at the finish! Up the track, down the other side, onto the road and then down to Checkpoint 1 – it sounds so easy when you put it like that!

 2: Seathwaite to Boot: 7 miles, ascent: 1263’, descent: 1375’

We headed on from Checkpoint 1 into the woods, across some fields, through the farmyard and then up to Wallowbarrow Crag. We then hit the first of the boggy stretches that Terry had warned us about, and found the footbridge that was built using funds raised by the Lakeland 100. This was hard going because of the soggy terrain underfoot, but the clearing skies and the stunning views across towards Scafell Pike were a reminder of why we do what we do! The descent down from Harter Fell to Penny Hill Farm was steep and slippery. A trot along the riverside track and the lanes to Boot and we arrived at the second Checkpoint where we were able to replenish our water supplies and stock up with Chia Charge bars.

3: Boot to Wasdale Head: 5.4 miles, ascent: 974’, descent: 942’

This section was made memorable by changes in the weather conditions: it went from warm and sunny to claggy and cooler (but definitely not cold). The Road Book described Burnmoor Tarn, which was on our right apparently (we couldn’t see it!) but we knew we were in the right place when we arrived at the sleeper bridge at the head of the tarn. We continued on our way and, using a compass bearing to ensure we were heading in the right direction, crossed this boggy section to Checkpoint 3, where we were greeted by friendly faces and more Chia Charge bars.

4: Wasdale Head to Buttermere: 6.9 miles, ascent: 2336’, descent: 2188’

Now, anyone who studied the Road Book and map in advance would have noticed that there is a little bit of climbing on this section; the climb up Black Sail pass was tough! It seemed to go on forever, relentlessly zigging and zagging upwards into the mist! At the top of the climb, the mist once again cleared (or maybe we were above the clouds) and the evening light was amazing. Dave and I were with two other runners at this point and we caught up with two more runners, and a marshal, who was able to provide us with very useful information about the best way down to the Youth Hostel at Black Sail. Onwards from there, we started to think about getting our head torches out in preparation for darkness. As we headed up Scarth Gap it once again became claggy and, in the increasing darkness became ever harder to stay on the path; it’s amazing how easy it is to be following a path and then to suddenly realise that you have wandered away from it! The descent down from the top of Scarth Gap was steep, rocky and slippery; I have to admit to being very glad when it levelled out and we could trot along the edge of Buttermere. The lights of the village seemed to take forever to get nearer and several people commented on the fact that they were glad to be doing ‘only’ 26.3 miles today rather than another 80ish that will be on the cards next July. We eventually arrived at The Fish and Checkpoint 4; it was great to be greeted by Jo and team and to catch up with our friends in the pub before a foggy drive back down the M6 to Lancashire.

This recce was fantastic – a tough day out in the hills and an eye-opener to how much of a challenge the Lakeland 100 will be; I don’t think I was under any illusions that it would be easy and I knew that the first part of the course is known to be considerably more technical than the second. But, it was good to get out there and to see what it’s all about, as this is not a part of the Lake District that I know well – I think this area and I will be getting well acquainted over the coming months!

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