Report from OAC’s Sarah Fuller on “…not a race but thought I’d do a report on this challenge event…”:
On Sunday I did the first 2013 Lakeland 100 official reccie event.
Through the year the organisers put on, for a minimal fee, four reccies effectively splitting the course into quarter chunks.
This was the Coniston to Buttermere section, which is the first 26 miles and the hardest section of the whole course.
About 50 of us set off just before 10am from Coniston in clear but cold conditions and within 20 minutes the snow started. Not to worry I thought, its only forecast to be light showers! How wrong that was – it got worse and didn’t stop until we finished. By the time I had reached the highpoint on the Walner Scar road out of Coniston, it was settling fast but still not too bad for the fast and furious descent into the Duddon Valley.
Next was the climb up and around Wallabarrow Crags and onto the track that the Duddon Valley Fell Race follows to the final push up Harter Fell. This is not nice at the best of times but there was a spectacular amount of bog to contend with all now covered with a couple of inches of snow which meant every footstep was a risk! Very slow progress for a couple of miles and very soggy feet later we hit the exciting icy descent (more bum slide that run) into Eskdale and a pleasant run along the river to Boot.
There was some tasty flapjack laid on at Boot from a very soggy marshal which perked me up for the climb up to Burnamoor Tarn. Now with a lot of lying snow, progress was energy sapping and the running over the tops into Wasdale was quite enjoyable as I had got into a group of four that worked together. Asking about their previous experience I got the feeling I was batting above my weight trying to hang on to this group (Bob Grahams, Lakeland 50 finished 3 hours quicker than me [see report here] etc etc – yikes) but we stayed together for safety and I was pleased I had kept up for as long as I had!
I still felt strong but as soon as we hit the tarmac in Wasdale at about mile 20, my legs started to complain. I encouraged the others to go on but they were reluctant, given the conditions and our next target being Black Sail Pass, which I was inwardly grateful for.
The climb up Black Sail hurt and the ice and snow made the descent exciting to say the least, running was out of the question as every attempt resulted with hitting the deck!
The final push up and over Scarth Gap in a blizzard and howling hoolie was full on and I was glad when we started the final descent into Buttermere, headtorches on for the final couple of miles through the woods to the finish in Buttermere village.
Job done, 26 miles, over 7,000′ ascent, epic conditions, 7 hours 20 mins. Now got to work out how I run that and then carry on for another 75 miles – hmmm!