Lakeland 100 Race Report

Lakeland 100 (give or take), 27th July 2012 by Rob Wishart

The Lakeland 100 (L100) starts and finishes in Coniston, along a 100 mile loop through deepest, darkest Cumbria.
Flip (Philip Owen) from Elvet Striders gave me a lift to Coniston and our kit was scrutinised before they let you start. Then we joined the small crowd and loitered at the back – there’s no rush in these things! Looking around, as usual everyone else looked efficient, well-equipped and athletic…..not just chancers having a go!

Off we went and soon it was a mighty hill, too long and steep to run. Took a long time to get up it, but I came down the other side in a couple of minutes! Luckily a gate stopped me, as I couldn’t…
Next bit was wet and boggy, up to my knees a few times.
The course doesn’t go over the hill summits, instead it goes over the passes between them. These are still pretty high! Long trudging ascents followed by nervewracking descents – I found them nervewracking anyway, after so many “near misses” when I’d slip/trip/fall…. Luckily every time I fell it wasn’t on rock :-o
At night you use a headtorch, it’s all the light you need. All that matters is the trail immediately ahead and what you’re about to step on. As I didn’t do any recces I spent most of the race tagging along with others who knew the way. If they were moving too fast I could join the next group to come along, too slow and I could run ahead to leech onto the next group. This shrewd tactic saved me actually having to look at the map or handbook!
There was a good team of marshals at the checkpoints, but my only criticism is that the food was crap! Cake and biscuits will not get you through an ultra. There was soup too, instant but still hot and tasty. Luckily I had real food in my rucksack.
One amusing episode happened when there was a debate about directions. A headtorch was spotted above, so that must be the trail. The others followed a winding path but I got there first, going up the slope on all fours. But where’s this guy with the headtorch?? Nobody could see him, until our lights reflected off… a sheep’s eye! It happened to be on the trail, but that could have been a daft mistake.

Dawn broke and we could see the scenery again. It never impresses me much when I’m running it as instead you always have to watch where you’re putting your feet. Sometimes I struggled to keep up at walking bits, though never had any problems when it was runnable – fell walking as training? Hmm…

Things were going well, no more tired or sore than you’d expect(!) and I was getting through the checkpoints – one was about a marathon’s distance into it, another at 33ish miles(a third done, check!), halfway… Yep, it was looking good, I’d be one of the finishers (it’s expected that 60% will pull out or get timed out).
Now it was Dalemain, where the Lakeland 50 starts. They were lined up ready to go and went over to see Paul of Claremont RR. Then into the checkpoint for food, drink and a seat. Some people say you should never sit down in ultras – I do, it rests my legs a little and I’m willing to be stiff when I get up. It wears off.
And I sure was stiff when I got up this time. Hobbled off, really really slow. Something had happened. Walking was difficult, running was impossible. Through a field and over a stile. The stile took me a whole minute – watched by a bus full of marshals! One of them came out and confronted me, looking in my eyes and asking me to spell my name… They wanted to pull me out there and then but I said “it’s broad daylight, there’s plenty of time. If I can’t run before the next checkpoint I’ll pull out then”. Ok.

Hobbled on. An easy bit too….realised I couldn’t do rough, wet or steep ground. It was all over, but I could get to the checkpoint by road instead. 6 miles of flat lakeside road took… 4 hours! Yep, no good. Arrived at Howtown (a handful of houses isn’t really a town… ) and found the checkpoint. Put my hands up and surrendered to the marshals :-(
Later a bus arrived and the 9(!) of us who dropped out there went back to Coniston.

Methinks there’s no lasting damage, just swollen ankles. There was no major accident, just the cumulative effect of all the little twists and knocks they’d taken. But am glad I didn’t just quit, putting it to the test for those last few miles. Finishing would have taken days.

I’ve defaced my Lakeland 100 t-shirt accordingly. Now it says Lakeland 66.

Further information about the event can be found at

and several photographs of Rob can be found here, here and here (c/o SportSunday Event Photography)

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  1. Only 66 miles Rob? You ought to be ashamed of yersel haha!!

    Seriously, well done on another incredible feat of endurance (I’d struggle to do 6.6miles on that sort of terrain) and I’m sure you’ll be back next year to complete the whole distance.

    I hope the ankles aren’t too bad and you’re back running soon.

  2. Incredible effort Rob.

  3. Wow, amazing effort! Well done :)

    • John JH on 30th July 2012 at 14:38
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    Phenomenal effort Rob. It shows the determination you have to push yourself through those final six miles. I’m sure you’ll be back to have another go. Well done.

    • BigAl on 30th July 2012 at 14:40
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    66 miles is a massive effort Rob! After doing the Coniston trail marathon recently over the same sort of terrain I cant imagine how i would feel if someone said I had another 40 miles to do. 100 miles on the flat would be hard enough nevermind along rocky trails over lakeland passes.
    This is extreme endurance running (bordering on lunacy) and i have every respect for the handful of TBH “Ultras” who put themselves on the starting line for these events. Bravo!

    • John Tollitt on 30th July 2012 at 16:18
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    Well done Rob. Hope the ankles are on the mend and you’re soon up and running for your next crazy venture.

    • david rowe on 30th July 2012 at 17:15
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    Rob it really is u stupendous effort, just amazing. As bigal says to do 100 miles on road is superb to do it on that sort of terrain is just mind blowing. I am sure even now your looking forward to completing it next year, speedy recovery mate.

    • Sean Kelly on 30th July 2012 at 19:29
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    Another report that makes ultra distance running sound so enticing…Really, I’d love to have a go. My first step into this arena will be a 30 mile run on the road, I will not dare complain if I feel any pain. I hope that you are able to take a lot of positives from this experience. As always, great respect!

    • Colin D on 30th July 2012 at 21:56
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    Rob, well done for getting to the START line on this one! An inspiring report on a an extremely challenging run. Let’s hear it for off-road endurance running! Any ideas how you would alter your preparation for doing it again?

    • RobW on 31st July 2012 at 08:15
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    Cheers folks. Rest assured I’ll be back next year #unfinishedbusiness. I should have trained more, but this didn’t show as I only got to 66 miles. Maybe sturdier soles, maybe less sitting/more standing rests. Anyone else that fancies it, I definitely recommend packing decent food in your rucsac… I’ll be back.

    • Kev jeffress on 1st August 2012 at 21:41
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    Great running rob and great report

    • Brother Louis on 13th August 2012 at 10:40
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    Wow Rob, huge effort and it must have been an incredible effort both physically and mentally. Hope all aches and pains are healing up nicely.

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