Report from Phil Robinson
The Langdale half used to be billed as “the toughest road half marathon in the country”. With over 1700 feet of climbing it would be graded BL if it were a fell race. My first visit was in 2003 when a certain Ian Fisher came second to 5-times winner Paul Muller. I came 70th out of 301 finishers, and 1st MV60. The other Otley runners were Mick Jeffrey (1st MV50), Dave Hainsworth and Nick Hodgkinson. The following year the Otley contingent was Howard Jeffrey (slightly slower than brother Mick the year before) Dave Hainsworth, Tom Hannah and me. We struggled round in pouring rain; Tom finished ahead of me but I got 1st MV60 again.
This year the wind and rain seemed even worse; one of those days when you drive to the start thinking “why?”. Encouraged by the sight of other runners suffering I slowly climbed the 450 feet – 25% gradient – to the col above Blea tarn. Then a mainly downhill section past the Three Shires Inn, and several more sharp digs on an undulating route to Skelwith Bridge. Then another 400 foot climb, over 30% in places, to High Raise, than back down to Elterwater and up the valley to finish in 2.09.36. Ian Fisher’s time from 2003 would have put him almost 5 minutes ahead of this year’s winner Scott Nutter (1.18.18). The other Otley runners this year were Lee Gumbrell (1.55.35) and Andy Webster (2.10.24) – good stuff guys!
The full marathon is two laps of the half route. The indefatigable Nick Hodgkinson, having been told that the marathon was already full when he applied, had entered the half. He convinced the organizers to let him switch to the full, and went round in a little over 5 hours to fulfil his aim of doing a marathon this year.
The race is now one of several events run locally by the Brathay Trust. Their organization was terrific – all junctions signed, traffic controls at main roads, and loads of marshals. Because the start times were staggered over several hours, the marshals must have been out in the wind and rain all day. Well done folks!
Full results here