Archive for June, 2016

Is it possible to run a negative split for the Montane Lakeland 100 and would you actually want to? (part 1)

This is the first of a series of guest blogs as we build towards the Montane Lakeland 50 & 100, written by Dr Ian Boardley, a sports psychology lecturer at the University of Birmingham and a 4 time Lakeland 100 finisher. In his first post, he asks whether it’s beneficial to run a negative split and shows some interesting data from previous years events to support his article.

A negative split – running the second half of a race faster than the first – is an elusive goal for many road marathon runners. This is particularly important when it is widely accepted that – assuming the first and second halves are roughly equivalent in terms of difficulty – running a negative split is the most effective pacing strategy for those looking to complete a marathon as quickly as possible. In support of this, most world records for road marathons have been set when running a negative split. This includes the current men’s (Dennis Kimetto; Berlin 2014; 2:02:57; 1st half = 61:45; 2nd half = 61:12) and women’s (Paul Radcliffe; London 2003; 2:15:25; 1st half = 68:02; 2nd half = 67:23) world records.

What is less accepted – or even discussed – is whether a negative split is achievable and/or desirable in very long trail ultra-marathons such as the Lakeland 100. In terms of pacing strategies, clearly there are marked differences between road marathons and trail ultra-marathons. The most obvious of these is the difficulty involved in quantifying intensity. For a flat road marathon with few tight turns and little wind then minutes per mile is an effective – and measureable – indicator of intensity. This brings up an often missed point when pacing strategies are discussed; that it is intensity – and not pace itself – we should be looking to monitor and control if we want to optimise our performances as this is what actually impacts the physiological systems in a runner’s body. Whilst pace can be a useful indictor of intensity for road marathons, it is pretty much meaningless as an indicator of intensity for ultra-marathons held on hilly and technical terrain. So what information can we use to assess – and plan – our pacing strategies for races such as the LL100? Heart rate is one option, but this has its own issues (e.g., affected by training status, age, gender, hydration status, cardiac drift, nutrition status) that are beyond the scope of this article.

Another option is to look at historical data for your target race, and look at how more – and less – successful runners have paced their races. When doing this the first issue to overcome is finding a way to compare runners who differ vastly in their levels of performance. On the road we can do this by looking at how pace varies as a function of a runner’s overall pace for the race. For instance, if a three-hour marathon runner is close to 6:52/mile or a four-hour marathon is close to 9:10/mile throughout a marathon we would say both of these runners have paced their races pretty well. An equivalent approach for ultra-marathons is to calculate the ratio between a runners’ average pace for each stage and that for the entire race. This gives you a value that varies around 1.0 depending on whether the pace for an individual stage is slower (i.e., ratio >1.0) or faster (i.e., ratio <1.0) than the overall pace for the race for any given individual. Estimating a line of best fit for these ratios across the race demonstrates whether relative pace was increasing or decreasing across the race; if this line has a negative slope (i.e., is sloping down) then the runner has run the equivalent of a negative split and vice versa for a positive slope (i.e., sloping up).

Having calculated these ratios for runners who completed the 2015 LL100, I have conducted two analyses using these ratios to try to determine what appears to have been the best pacing strategy for the event. The first of these analyses compares the pace ratios for the first and last ten finishers of the 2015 race (see Figure 1 at).


One thing this analysis shows is that the top ten finishers ran a much more even pace across the race than the bottom ten finishers, evidenced by their much flatter line of best fit in Figure 1 for the top ten runners compared to that for the bottom 10 runners. Interestingly, the winner of the race ran an even more even-paced race (i.e., his line of best fit is flatter than that for the top ten overall) in comparison to the top ten as a whole, suggesting the potential benefits of further evening out relative pace across the race beyond that seen for the top ten. This suggestion was supported further by a separate analysis (not shown in Figure 1) in which I calculated the ratios and line of best fit for Terry Conway when he ran the course record. This analysis showed an even flatter line of best fit for Terry Conway in comparison to the 2015 winner. Also shown in Figure 1 are my pace ratios for the 2015 race. Although I am not suggesting these necessarily demonstrate an efficient strategy, they do provide an answer to one of the questions posed in the title of this article, as they show it is possible to run the equivalent of a negative split on the LL100 course.

We’ll post part 2 on Friday, which compares the elite runners to the back markers and questions whether the pacing is different between the 2 groups.

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Revised Kit List 2016

In an attempt to reduce waste we are asking every competitor to bring a plastic cup with them and carry it throughout the event, to be used for hot drinks. At each checkpoint, we will have plastic cups for water/cola etc and foam cups for hot soup. By asking each competitor to bring their own plastic cups for coffee/tea, we will require in the region of 10,000 fewer foam cups over the event weekend, which is a huge reduction in our waste volume. Please bring a cheap plastic cup and attach to your pack for tea/coffee purposes.

Required equipment (all of this equipment must be presented at registration):

  • First aid kit to include: blister plasters / sterile pad dressing / bandage or tape to secure dressing as a minimum requirement.
  • Full WATERPROOF body cover, top and bottom *please note that windproof is not sufficient, must be waterproof with taped seams. Plastic jackets, poncho or bags will not be accepted. It must be a good quality, recognised waterproof jacket. A hood is advised, but not compulsory as you will be carying a hat during the event.
  • Spare base layer *top and bottom – must be full length bottoms & long sleeve top. Three quarter tights or cycling shorts and long socks are not acceptable. Short sleeve tops are also not acceptable. Leg warmers or arm warmers with shorts or short sleeve tops are not acceptable. The spare base layers should not be worn at any time during the event unless you are faced with a race ending emergency. We expect you to carry additional spare base layers which can be used during the event should the weather change. Seal the spare base layers in a watertight bag and leave them at the bottom of your pack.
  • Head torch / spare batteries if required
  • Mobile phone *fully charged
  • Whistle
  • Hat and gloves (BUFF or similar acceptable as hat)
  • Emergency foil blanket or bivi bag, large enough to cover whole body. Blanket or bag must not be cut to minimise size.
  • Emergency food equivalent to 400kcal e.g. 2 mars bars (additional to your general nutrition i.e. not to be eaten during event, should be in your bag at the finish)
  • Map (supplied, waterproof and pre-marked) 1:40,000
  • Road book (supplied on waterproof paper)
  • Compass (you must know how to orientate a map using a compass and take a simple bearing to provide direction)
  • Plastic cup

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Family and friends supporting on the course

This blog post outlines how your supporters can see and support you on the course and keep up to date with your progress throughout the race.

1. There is a large screen at Coniston which will be displaying all runners live progress as they pass through checkpoints. Your spectators will be able to access this screen and monitor your progress during specific hours. They will not be able to access it from 11pm Friday through to 6am Saturday, as the hall will be closed.

2. Spectators can sign up for SI Updates, you can do this within your SI entry by adding mobile numbers that you’d like texts to be sent to as you pass through each checkpoint. This is the same as the info displayed on the big screen, supporters will receive a text to inform them of the CP and the time you went through. The cost for this is very small to cover texting charges etc, but this is the best way for your supporters to keep up to date with your progress throughout the event. SI will be sending out an email in the next week to inform you how to register for this service, if you haven’t already.

Where can they watch me on the course – IMPORTANT – READ THIS TO AVOID A DISQUALIFICATION

1. Supporters cannot run on the course with you, this is deemed outside assistance. This is only allowed for the initial 4 miles loop of Dalemain Estate for the 50 event (supporters joining you for the first 4 miles is encouraged).

2. Supporters MUST NOT enter the checkpoint buildings, CP staff will ask them to leave as they generally ‘get in the way’ of other competitors and CP staff.

3. There are specific points on the course where they can watch you. We have agreed with local councils, National Trust and National Park to avoid key areas. If your supporters go to these areas to watch you, it will result in a disqualification. The specific areas where supporters can watch as as follows:

100 Course:

  • Coniston (start and finish – please do not support in village centre after midnight as this can upset local residents)
  • CP3 Wasdale (specifically from Wasdale Inn)
  • Keswick – back of Fitz park before climbing Latrigg and on A66 approaching this point

50 & 100 Course

  • CP8 Dalemain Estate (parking available and friends / family of 50 competitors may join you for the initial 4 miles loop)
  • Pooley Bridge – main village (100 & 50 competitors)
  • CP12/4 Ambleside – main village (100 & 50 competitors) *can spectators please avoid entering the Parish Hall checkpoint. Ambleside is a key location for spectators.
  • Skelwith Bridge Hotel
  • Elterwater village

It Is extremely difficult for us to police the above regulations so we are asking YOU as a competitor to take responsibility, help us to ensure the race runs as smooth as possible and also to ensure that the event continues to take place every year forwards from now. We welcome you to the Lakeland 50 & 100 family, let’s jointly make this work.

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Lakeland 100 – 500 Club

2015 was the first year we created the elusive 500 Club to recognize the brilliant achievements of those that have successfully completed five Lakeland 100 events. Inducted into the club last year were:

  • Matt Neale
  • Kevin Perry
  • Philip Musson
  • Gary Warmington
  • Simon Webb
  • Nick Ham

This year we have seven athletes ready to run their way into the club, so without adding any additional pressure on their shoulders the seven runners are:

  • Ian Boardley
  • Nathan Walsh
  • Nigel Harrison
  • Steven Major
  • Jody Young
  • Jon Pitchford
  • Carl Hobbins

Good luck to the magnificent 7 and we look forward to inducting you into the 500 club in the not so distant future.

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Who’s looking after you… a guide to checkpoints, 1-14

Checkpoint 1, Seathwaite Village Hall, Seathwaite Superheroes

North County Leisure Ulverston is a friendly, community focused indoor and outdoor leisure facility offering a 25m swimming pool, modern gym facilities, Cumbria’s largest tennis centre and much more. This year they will be teaming up with Ulverston Triathlon Club to greet you at the first checkpoint on your 100 mile journey. Their theme for the checkpoint is superheroes, team manager Caroline does a very good Wonder Woman!


Checkpoint 2, Corn Mill, Boot, Eskdale, Mexico

For the 100 runners you’ll be facing darkness soon after this checkpoint so this is the perfect place for Petzl and CP manager Martin Bergerud and their theme is all things Mexican!! This year Martin and his team will be feeding, hydrating, supporting and pushing you onwards to Wasdale. Martin is an all round mountain man, runner, cyclist and great guy so you are in safe hands. Part of Martin’s role is to ensure that petzl produce the best products for ultra runners.


Checkpoint 3, barn close to Wasdale Inn, Wasdale (CIRCA 1984)

It’s the ‘Stroller Disco’… if you ran last year, I don’t think we need say more.

Based in the North East is an immense army known as The Sunderland Strollers. They are regulars at ultra running events throughout the UK, competing or supporting. Many of the members have already taken part in the Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 and they have an elite team ready and waiting for you at Wasdale checkpoint. With Blacksail Pass and Scarth Gap looming, you’ll need ‘lifting’ at the Wasdale CP, the Strollers are the team for the task. Imagine a barn in bleakest Wasdale with glitter balls, 80’s disco music and excessively flared trousers. Throw in a few affro hairstyles and you get the picture.


Checkpoint 4, Buttermere Village Hall, Buttermere, California

Bev & Kim (don’t need to say any more for the regulars) will be staffing this point and the theme is ‘American Diner’. Coffee and doughnuts? Drive in movies? Last year their milkshakes went down an absolute storm!

Checkpoint 5, HMS Braithwaite, The High Seas

Tony and Giselle are at CP5 and that’s probably as much as we need to say for those who’ve done the event before. They’ve been there every year, feeding, supporting and pushing people onwards and they are the first ‘real food’ stop (mains and pudding!!). Tony and Giselle have been long distance runners and walkers for many years and have racked up more LDWA events that they’ll serve hot meals in July. If anyone complains, you will be made to walk the plank as the pirate team running HMS Braithwaite will not take any abuse from slackers.

Checkpoint 6, Blencathra Centre

A full name is not required, he is the man simply known as ‘little Dave’. He’s done it beforehand, both 50 and 100 so he’s the man equipped to keep you going. Last year there were hot dogs on offer, this year the CP is titled From Dusk till Dawn.

Checkpoint 7, Dockray, Matterdale

Checkpoint 7 is found at the end of the old coach road, in a deserted car park, usually in the early hours of the morning and that’s why you’ll be pleased to see them. The Newburgh Nomads are a running club from Lancashire who have experienced you pain. This CP is renowned for cowbells and grumpy men who resemble something from last of the summer wine. In 2014 the 100 winner Stuart Mills walked into this CP a broken man and ran out and onwards to victory. The exact words spoken are unknown but rumor has it that they resembled something along the lines of “stop taking that sports gel cr*p, sit down and have a butty…”


Checkpoint 8, Dalemain House, Pooley Bridge

The ‘half way stop’ for the 100 course which is in fact not half way at all and it is the start of the 50 mile event. Dalemain is manned by The Endurance Store and this year’s theme is MASH. Those of a certain age will remember this classic TV programme and the tent at Dalemain very much resembles a medical tent with bodies sprawling on the grass, taking intravenous cola.

The coaches drop off at this point for the 50 runners to start and friends family get a great spot to view as runners initially complete a 4 miles loop before starting their journey to Coniston. Friends and family may choose to join you for the first 4 miles rather than watching, after that you’re on your own.. apart from 1000 other people.


Checkpoint 9/1, Bobbin Mill, Howtown, Mid West

The first CP for the 50 runners and you’ll have barely broken sweat. After a great trail along Ullswater you drop to Howtown for the first stop and then start the first real climb up Fusedale valley. The checkpoint is managed by Chia Charge. As you can imagine, with barely an hour of running gone by, this checkpoint can be a little ‘manic’ with runners grabbing food and drink, recording their time and then dashing back up the hill in the direction of Mardale. Don’t annoy the CP staff, a few of them are gunslingers so show respect when you roll into (How)town…


Checkpoint 10/2, Mardale Head Car Park, Mardale

Delamere Spartans are a collective of trail runners who shun tarmac in favour of adventure and good times in the great outdoors. The brotherhood of Sparta is a bond that cannot be broken. In Sparta you will find friendly bravado and good old fashioned ‘encouragement’ for all. They live wild in Delamere Forest, their spiritual home and out on the killing fields of Cheshire. The Spartans are driven on through wind, rain, sleet and snow. Even darkness turns to light in their presence. They are committed to finding personal limits and once discovered, they smash through them like a truck on a colossal mirror.

Treacherous Persians cower (NB: not many Persians at Mardale) as the Spartans find glory through their victories. Witness their banner at races, from the friendly Lakes of the North to the burning pit of hell known as the South (their words not ours, for our Southern friends reading this). They are the Delamere Spartans, what’s your occupation?


Checkpoint 11/3, Kentmere Institute, Kentmere

Q: How many marshals and smoothy machines does it take to make fresh fruit smoothies for 1000 competitors?

I personally don’t known the answer to this question, but the Montane team seem to pull it off every year and this is now the trademark for the Kentmere checkpoint.

MONTANE® is a British company that creates premium lightweight and breathable clothing  and equipment for mountainous and extreme environments. Founded 20 years ago, MONTANE® works with leading innovative expeditions to the world’s polar and mountainous regions, supports athletes in climbing, polar exploration and endurance trail running and sponsors the world’s leading ultra distance endurance events. MOTNANE® products are sold through leading specialist outdoor, run and bike retailers in 40 countries around the world.  FURTHER. FASTER®.


Checkpoint 12/4, Parish Hall, Ambleside Circus

Checkpoint 12 is Ambleside Parish Hall and the stop is managed by Ringmaster Nicola Merrett of Mountain Run. Roll up, roll up, come and see the biggest show on earth at Ambleside Circus!!

Reaching Ambleside is a great landmark so you’ll be glad to reach the parish hall and you’ll welcome the relief. Some of you will reach Ambleside before last orders, no stopping in the pub please, it’s not in the spirit of the event…


Checkpoint 13/5, Chapel Stile, Langdale

A great place to start and an amazing place to visit. Chapel Stile is staffed by ‘the Howards’. The checkpoint is an oasis of calm, runners sitting outside on sofas and armchairs, warming themselves next to wood burning chimneys whilst mellow music playing in the background.

The checkpoint is staffed mainly this year by Ross Howard. The family own Grove Cottages of Ambleside, if you are looking for a wonderful place to stay for a week of recce and training, this family know a bit about the course and you couldn’t possibly meet a nicer bunch of people. Once again the Howards will be staffing CP13, Chapel Stile, it’ll be hard, but try not to stay too long.. ;)


Checkpoint 14/6, Tilberthwaite, Coniston, Stairway to Heaven

This year the Checkpoint will be managed by Janet & Lisa. Their CP is named and themed ‘The Stairway to Heaven’. From here, the only way is up…

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