Report from Sarah Fuller: It was always going to be a long shot this year but there’s no hope like a fools hope, so I lined up with 305 other folk for the Ultra tour of the lake district (Lakeland 100) on Friday evening. Preparation had been going well until the end of May when I caught a nasty infection which led to 2 rounds of antibiotics and a long 7 week lay off from running, truth be told I still hadn’t got over it but I tried to put that out of my mind and decided last minute to have a punt at the race anyway (after all I’d paid my entry and I was rested if nothing else!).
The start as last year was an emotional affair and I was already holding back tears as Jamil and Zack appeared to watch us depart to the sound of nessun dorma blasting out through the streets of Coniston. Very apt as nessun dorma means ‘none shall sleep’ and for the majority of runners that meant until at least Sunday morning. It soon became clear that the other issue (excuse?) I’d have to deal with would be the heat. The temperature and humidity were oppressive topping out at over 90 degrees according so some chaps garmin thingy. It didn’t get much cooler overnight either and it was strange indeed standing on top of black sail pass after midnight, sweating wearing only a t shirt and shorts. There wasn’t a breath of wind and the heat took its toll early on many competitors with more than usual retiring at early checkpoints unable to stop being sick. I took it steady and tried to stay comfortable which wasn’t easy and was a little slower into the first 2 checkpoints than last year – not unexpected, I was still coughing and it was hot! However as night came I began to make up time and arrived at Braithwaite (mile 33) with the hardest third of the course behind me well over half an hour up on last year and feeling pretty ok. Sharon Meadows (ilkley) was still with me and I was glad of the company and we would remain pretty much together until we retired.
I foolishly began to let myself believe this was possible despite the problems Id had, and cracked on into the first light of the day feeling pretty positive. The Blencathra leg felt long but came and went without drama then the long haul up and along the old coach road, the heat of the day got going again here and it never gets any shorter but I felt ok and managed to jog a lot of it (very slowly) passing a few sorry looking souls (including a lovely chap who knew Richard Hamer – small world!!). So good spirits at Dockray (49 miles) ready for the long 10 mile leg into Dalemain and ‘half way’ (why do they call it that??!) where I would get access to my drop bag and family. That was the longest 10 miles ever in oppressive heat over gowbarrow fell and eventually into Dalemain estate, I ran out of water and suffered big time and started to feel sick and dizzy (and to add insult to injury had to go through some cows who weren’t happy!). However we were still half hour up on last year at Dalemain with plenty of people behind and several hours ahead of the cut off so took a half hour break to cool down change socks, tape feet etc and felt much better once id rehydrated.
The next 7 miles were to be the turning point, I quickly began to suffer again in the heat and the nausea and dizziness became concerning, my quads all but failed on me in a spectacular display of cramping and pain. I was in bits and not only physically, I couldn’t believe it was unravelling in the same place as last year. So again I sat demoralised at Howtown, 67 miles into my focus race of the year waiting for the bus of shame. I watched people come in and go feeling inadequate and jealous, many of them would go on to finish. So it wasn’t meant to be after all which all things considered I shouldn’t be surprised about, but Im glad I gave it a shot anyway although my feet and quads don’t agree and I think its back to the doctor with my chest (perhaps I wont mention a 67 mile mountain run!). If I go back for another crack it will be in 2016 I need to take stock and get past this disappointment and focus on something else for a while. 306 started and 192 finished so only a 40% DNF rate this year!!
This is a picture Jamil took shortly after the off…..