By the morning of race day I couldn’t quite contain my excitement. I just love this race and I was ready to take on that sub 30!
I felt a bit of an “all the gear no idea” plonker in the starting pen wearing a skort and gaiters, but it is a feet first game in the Lakeland 100. If your feet get in a mess too early it’s a game changer, oh and Salomon only do female s-lab shorts with a skirt!
As expected it was all pretty uneventful for the first few hours. I bumped into Jamie Hauxwell at Wasdale and we headed out into the night. I thoroughly enjoyed the next 8 hours. The climb up Black Sail Pass went by so quickly and the decent went well too by sticking to the “listen out for the stream” rule.
Even the traverse after Buttermere and the climb up Sail Pass were thoroughly enjoyable. Jamie and I would exchange a few words every so often but most of the time would just enjoy the sound of the night. Arriving at Braithwaite is 30% of the way – but I knew it was 50% of the climbing done so it felt quite a milestone. I was really surprised to see Carol Morgan (this year’s ladies winner) as I arrived Braithwaite, I had no idea I was so close and knew this put me in third – a pressure I really did not want so early in the race. I focused on the strawberry milkshake and tried not to put too much pressure on myself. But then I started to think what if I came 3rd, I’d get be a “Lakeland 100 prize winner”…
One of my favourite moments was Blencathra checkpoint. Little Dave had put on a marvellous spread – forget the cake, I was stocking up on the potatoes and cheese! Jamie and I were like kids in a sweet shop!
The first bad patch came a few miles before Dockray when I started feeling really nauseous. I wasn’t really surprised. I had a feeling I was going to have a dodgy stomach. In fact I was surprised I had lasted this long. I created an alternative type of waterfall at Aira Force and I started to feel better. I had picked up quite a bit by the time I arrived at Dalemain just after schedule about 8.15am. Last year I stayed too long here so I was glad to be fed and cleaned in 15 minutes. I said goodbye to Jamie here which made me a little sad having spent the last 10 hours together. But he was looking mighty strong and I knew he had a mega 2nd half in him.
Now I could start to think about Howtown. Chia Charge Cowboy Tim Taylor was manning this along with Lisa, Casper and Jane and it was wonderful to get encouragement from familiar faces. As much as a “go Katie” is encouraging, you can’t beat getting a cheer and a hug from friends. I naughtily sat down here and found it really hard to leave! I had been looking forward to it for so long, then it was over in a flash!
The climb up Fusedale was the first time I was alone and I took the opportunity to take it all in. I was beaming as I climbed. I was just so happy.
Along Hawswater I had one of those moments after a full face plant where you keep still for a few moments and then have a little wiggle of each limb. Everything was in still in one piece. Phew.
I kept trying to work out when the 50s would start to pass. The first guy flew pass just as I came into Kentmere. Whilst I was at Kentmere Jayson Cavill (the 50 winner) came through. I said hello but was unsure whether to go in for the hug as didn’t want to interrupt his focus. But then I thought hey, I’ve done 82 miles and been out for 22 hours, he was getting a hug! Turns out it gave him a boost too. It’s probably what gave him the win!
More super hugs came from Dennis and John Steele at Troutbeck. The trudge from Ambleside was hard. I was struggling to eat or drink anything and close to the death march. My race number had fallen off about 15 hours ago so anyone calling my name was someone I actually knew. First it was Tony Holland, then Kim England (with another massive hug!). Had Kim arrived 30 seconds earlier she would have been greeted to my bare booty rustling around in the ferns! And then came Garry Scott too – who reassured me the 3rd lady was not in catching distance, although I didn’t believe him at the time, sorry Garry!
In 2014 as the second night fell I has all sorts of crazy hallucinations including animals of all varieties. I wasn’t expecting them this year as I was back within 30 minutes of nightfall. But the hallucinations still came between Langdale and Tilberthwaite. Happy little crabs scuttling everywhere.
As I climbed the stairway to heaven out of Tilberthwaite I started to wonder if I really did have a chance of coming in 2nd Lady. Just before the final decent the second night began. Then a fellow 100er came sailing past. Call me competitive but I had a new target, I had to catch him. I steamed down that rocky descent in the dark and down the track to Coniston and was getting faster and faster I couldn’t believe where the energy was coming from! I caught him (Sorry Yannick!) I made it to be greeted with the final and most important hug from Cowboy Casper. There was a little wobble but I stayed on my feet. Then the wonderful marshal escorting me in to announce “2nd lady in the 100”. It was real.
I made it back in 28 hours and 36 minutes. A PB by 4 hours and 57 minutes. And Yes, I probably wasted those 3 minutes at Howtown…
I can’t finish this story without mentioning who I have named my “3 Musketeers” – Adam (Wilson), Andrew (Cox) and Simon (Buxton). I ran on and off with these guys for around 20 hours. They were fantastic company and play a significant part in my memory of the race.
Until next time…