And this is where I started hallucinating. I remember that rock - it looked like one of the old chaps on the theatre balcony from the Muppets.
I can't remember where my girlfriend comes from (err, ...Suffolk! Suffolk!) but I can remember a rock I saw on the Lakeland 100 in 2009. 37 hours on the feet do funny things to the head. And so I pointed it out to my muckers Clare Griffin and Paul Hunt whilst on a L100 recce on Mon 31st Jan. ...and here's where I nearly sleepwalked off the edge of the track into the river (Elterwater). Paul raised a dubious eyebrow towards the frothing torrent below. 'You are on the reserve list aren't you?' (read: you're not trying to get out of it are you?!?). 'Yes', and 'Yes'.
Paul had entered the L100 some weeks back and since then flash floods of entrants have filled up both the L100 and L50 events to capacity. Doubtless there will be plenty of people who have moments of clarity and decide the garage really does urgently need clearing out that weekend, or that the old injury really does need some decent to time to recover; and the physio they saw 6 months ago was actually spot on when he said R.I.C.E was the only way not to scupper long term running plans.
The Lakeland 100 has become extremely popular. Why? Because it's a good route, well organised, and has been very well marketed. I have to say I wouldn't be surprised if people take umbrage with some of the corporate style events popping up that charge £100 to let you run in circles around a few hills, providing not much in the way of support/food etc in the name of 'authenticity' and 'self reliance'. If I want that I'll go and run round the Derwent Watershed on my own for free, or save £70 and enter 'The Fellsman' (a real event) instead.
'Bahh - I'm not forking out for a £100 tee shirt that's too small around the waistline!'
Fortunately the L100 is not one of these events and is instead a really well organised and challenging day out (or two). I'd even go so far as to say you get your moneys worth - although everything pales in comparison to the Fellsman in terms of pedigree and value for entry fee.
I did the L100 in 2009 and came in with 3 other L100ers around 30th place (a bit unfair as we came in 27th, 28th, 29th, etc and me 30th when we all crossed together - never mind). It took us 37 hours. I'd expected to be done in around 30 but I didn't count with the levels of tiredness and lack of focus that came with the later stages. I swore that if I ever entered it again I was going to put a marker pen in my halfway kit bag and write 'RACE' on my hand to remind me to keep focused. Anyway; I've not got a place this year but am on the reserve list. Paul however, has. There was a 70% drop out rate when I did it with only around 40 of the 120 starters finishing. So as usual the law of increasing mileage = better results applied again for me. 50ml plus I tend to be in 1st quarter, 20 miles and under; I'm right at the back!
Clare lubes up at Elterwater to give Paul his annual prostate exam.
Here's a few pics from the recce we did the other day; Kentmere to the finish at Coniston. The terrain is mainly stony track with a bit of flatter stuff approaching Elterwater/Langdale before switching to general Lakeland fell path towards the end. The final descent into Coniston is a devilish knee crippler after 100ml (I did it crabwise on the day). Actually, I did the L50 last year and ended up running (and then walking) with a chap who was (apparently) quite a renowned ultra runner sponsored by Montane who'd not done an off road race before. He fell over twice in 50 yds when I came over the track near Harter fell. He produced a glowstick when it got dark. I had to walk along shining my headtorch behind so he could see. Still, we did the 50 in around 13 hrs at an easy pace and didn't rush, so with focus and application a 30hr L100 is possibly do-able for the average Joe I'd say, although try telling that to the 100ers who are 70ml in on the day. (Watch this space come August... errk).
Stony track, Langdale.
Path ascending the final climb of Tilberthwaite fell.
Ordinarily innocuous short scrambly section on the way up Tilberthwaite fell that could be dodgy after 30 odd hrs on the feet. Sea legs. Big drop to the right.