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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