Lakeland 50 – Second Recce

Yesterday was the second of my recce runs in preparation for the Lakeland 50. These official recce events are held by Lakeland 100, which organises the Lakeland 100 and Lakeland 50 events (more properly, but less commonly, known as the Ultra Tour Lake District 100 & 50), primarily to assist competitors in these races to practice running the terrain and navigating the route, although non-competitors are also allowed to attend.

In addition to the run, each weekend’s event includes talks. This Saturday’s talks were from race doctor Paul Simpson on medical issues which stop people from finishing (most commonly blisters), from entertaining self-described  “back of the pack jogger” Maxine Grimshaw, and from last years’ women’s winner (and record holder) from the Lakeland 50, Tracy Dean, whose  training regime makes mine look paltry.

This weekend’s run  was intended to cover the course from Dalemain to Ambleside, but the weather had other ideas. Early in the week, with passes blocked by snow, it was decided that keeping to the original plan would be perhaps impossible, certainly impractical, and unsafe. Instead, as in November, we were sent off to run from Ambleside to Coniston via Chapel Stile and Tilberthwaite.

It was good to get the chance to see this part of the course in daylight, the November recce having deliberately started just before dusk, and I’m very pleased to say that I found the instructions in the route book easier to follow this time.

The somewhat wintry conditions made the terrain even more challenging than normal, with stretches of path quite icy underfoot, some of the ice patches being barely visible until you saw a runner in front of you slipping, or found your own foot slithering sideways as you put your weight on it. Early on, several unwary runners hit the ground, although nobody suffered worse than momentary embarrassment. Other sections of the route were covered in snow varying from a few inches to several feet in depth, particularly as we crossed from Tilberthwaite to Coniston, where some of the drifts must have been 15 or 20 feet deep.

In addition to the extra work involved simply in balancing and walking (rarely running) through the snow, it was impossible to make full use of the directions on this section of the route, as the marker points were buried: for example, the “path splits into three” was not evident, as the paths were hidden under snow, the other branches had not been travelled and only the route pre-trodden by other runners was visible.

Some of the runners had brought their dogs with them, one with a proper CaniX harness, others running free. It was lovely to see them and they seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I admit I could have done without three dogs under my feet while I was negotiating a snowy path with a sharp drop of several hundred metres on our right side.

Finally we descended back below the snow line, joined a major path, and actually ran the last kilometre or so down into Coniston!

On the injury front, my left ankle held up quite well and was none the worse afterwards, and my left hamstring tendons were fine, but the left groin strain which I somehow acquired last week was not very happy in the slippery conditions. The next two weeks I’ll be tapering before SDW50 on 13th April. Hopefully that will give whatever muscle/tendon I’ve upset time to settle down.

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