I signed up for the Lakes Mountain 42 back in January as prep for my upcoming Bob Graham attempt. The race, held in the Lake District, was advertised as 42 miles of Lakeland summits, fells and dales, with 10,000ft of elevation gain. With the BG being 68 miles (and 28,000ft), I thought this race would act as a good benchmark, to see where I currently am, and how my training has been going.
The race started and finished in Askham, at the east end of Ullswater, and with it being a 6am start on the Saturday, I made my way up after work on the Friday. The race organisers (NAV 4 Adventure) had laid on accommodation at race HQ, which made it very easy on the race morning – wake-up, breakfast, go. I knew it was going to be a long day, so made sure I had a decent breakfast before setting off – porridge, 2 x toast, banana and 2 x coffees.
It was a very surreal start. Starting from the centre of Askham, a lovely little village, the starter didn’t want to make any noise in order to avoid waking the locals. Instead, she started mouthing the word ‘go’ and started waving her arms. The sun had just risen, but even though it was nearly pitch black, there was no need for a headtorch. It was very cold, and there had been a thick frost overnight. We soon left the village and made our way onto the open fells, immediately climbing.
It was a near continuous climb for 10 miles, to the summit of High Street (828m), via Loadpot Hill, Wether Hill and High Raise. I set off with the intention of running slow and steady, and soon settled into a rhythm (my ‘long day in a the mountains’ pace) and into a group of 3 with Ally and James. The route was not waymarked, but the climb to High Street was very straight forward, made easier by the bogs being frozen. This was also the same area where the Saunders Mountain Marathon had been last year so I was vaguely familiar with it. As the sun rose, the views all around were stunning, with a cloud inversion over Ullswater, and endless views towards Helvellyn – where we would be in a few hours time. I soon realised it was going to be a warm day, and from that moment onward, made sure I was drinking consistently.
After High Street, we made our way down towards Angle Tarn, and then down into Patterdale and a feed station. This was just under 16 miles in, and I was feeling good. After topping up my drink and having a mouthful of food, I was on my way again. I was still in the group of 3, and we now made our way up towards Grisedale Tarn, before descending down steeply towards Dunmail Raise, and then to Wythburn, and the next feed station at 22 miles. There were now 2 of us, as James had dropped back, and the marshall confirmed we were in 10th and 11th. I stopped here to take on some more substantial food, and to refill my drinks again with electrolyte. Ally didn’t hang around and shot straight off onto the climb. It wasn’t even 10:30 yet, and it was hot, and I knew it was only going to get hotter on the next climb, up Helvellyn.
I like the climb up Helvellyn from Wythburn, having done it twice before, including in the 3×3000’s last year. It’s a long, but the views down to Thirlmere, and across to the Scafell range are incredible, especially on a day like this, when there was not a cloud in the sky. I felt strong on the climb, but took it steady as I knew we still had another 20 miles or so to go.
After summiting Helvellyn, we made our way along the ridge, going over Lower Man, and then to White Side. From here, it was then a long 5 mile descent down to Glenridding and then Patterdale. I was not looking forward to this, as it was steep, dropping around 2,500ft, and after already running over a 26 miles, I knew it might hurt! I caught another runner on top of White Side and another on the descent, and I ran it well, taking direct lines where I could, cutting the switchbacks, and trying to stay off the rocky path as much as possible. The rocky path started to take it’s toll on my feet, and from this point onwards, my feet hurt. This was the same issue I had last year in the 3×3000’s, and need to work out how to handle this for my BG attempt.
Upon reaching the Patterdale checkpoint, I again filled up my water bottles, and tried to take on some food – easier said than done in the heat and after running for 6 and half hours. I soon set off again for the final 10 miles, and started climbing Place Fell. We’d run past this earlier so had seen the line I needed to take. I was following another runner up here, and it was a drag. It seemed to go on forever. I caught the other runner at the top, and after exchanging pleasantries, ran off along the ridge before descending down to Martindale. It was at this point the other runner asked where I was from, and after explaining he started laughing. It turns out, this was Graham, who used to run for Belper, and is a friend of Alan and Saul, and who Alan had previously asked to help support me on my BG attempt. Small world.
Me and Graham ended up running the rest of the race together, returning to Askham after 9 hours and 4 minutes, in 8th place. All in all, I was pleased with how I’d run. My legs felt great all the way to the finish, and I felt as though I’d paced it well throughout. I had planned to use this as a training run, for a long day out in the mountains, and as a bonus, can’t complain with a top 10 position.
I was happy with my liquid consumption over the day, taking in just over 4 litres of water/electrolyte. I ate well for the first half of the race, snacking on Kendal Mint Cake, Mars bars, cheese and pickle rolls, pizza and a pork pie, as well as sweets and a couple of gels. It was harder to take on food in the second half due to the heat, but I managed to eat enough, and I was happy with how I fuelled throughout the day.
It was a fantastic day out in the high mountains, and with the weather as good as it was, it was a privilege to have been able to be out for the day in the Lake District.
Next up, the Teenager With Altitude fell race (15 miles with 7,500ft elevation) in 2 weeks time.