Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lakeland 50 - Dalemain to Howtown

It was hot.  Really, really, really hot.  Baking. Sweltering.

Off the coaches at Dalemain House and a bit of hanging around before the start.  100 Mile runners were coming through in a steady stream to cheers and applause from awestruck 50 milers.  They'd been on the go for around 17 hours at this point.  Amazing.

Eventually, we were all dibbed in and directed to the start line.  OMG it was soooooo hot.

We wore our Clayton-le-Moors Harriers vests and the official photographer spotted us.  He's from Sport Sunday event photographers that are based in Nelson, just up the road from us.  He'd clocked the Clayton shirts and wished us luck.
Team Olszewski at the start line of the Lakeland 50
And then we were off.  Off on a 50 mile run of a lifetime.

I don't know about you, but I am a rubbish starter.  It takes me a good couple of miles to get going so the initial loop around the grounds of Dalemain was hard.  It was hot, and slow going and lots of people were walking.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering what the hell I thought I was doing there at that point. I managed a bit of a trot and then realised that I needed a wee.  Fortunately, we looped back past Dalemain House and the porta loos had no queue so I had a quick pit stop and then rejoined the hordes of people still going by.

The recce route had started at Pooley Bridge so the loop round the grounds and the short trip to Pooley Bridge were new to me. Fortunately, it was all pretty low level stuff so other than the heat it was quite a nice runnable stretch.

Passing through Pooley Bridge was great with lots of support from all of the holiday makers there and then we climbed up and out of the village almost to High Street before crossing the fell and dropping down to Howtown.  A great runnable stretch.  It was going well.  I'd had to estimate how long it would take to run the start loop and additional stretch to Pooley Bridge and, looking at my watch, I was pretty much on schedule and feeling good despite the heat.

Howtown Bobbin Mill was organised chaos.  It's the first checkpoint for the 50 runners and the field is still all quite close together at that point.  There were lots of big buckets full of lovely cold water and plenty of helpful marshals on hand to help you fill your bottles.  There were lots of goodies to eat to but I didn't really feel like anything at that point.  It was too hot.

I'd got plenty of carbohydrate and electrolyte drink with me.  I'd decided to have 500 ml of this between each checkpoint. I also had gels but just didn't really fancy gels in the heat.  I think I only had one of them in the whole race.

I dug out my arab scarf to tie around my shoulders.  I could feel the burn from the sunshine.  I wore this all the way to Kentmere like some kind of demented super hero but it seemed to do the trick.

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No it's Padihamknitter in a silly scarf!
From Howtown it's the big climb up Fusedale (aka Death Valley in that heat!). I'd already decided that this was going to be a walk and my aim was to get up non stop at the best pace I could.  It was hands on knees, huffing and puffing and grim determination all the way to the top.

Once at the top, it's quite runnable. I just had to persuade my legs of jelly to get going again. It was a more of a shuffle to begin with but after a while I got going and into a better rhythm.  On the recce we'd overshot the turnoff going over the summit so I was keen not to do the same today.  I could see people ahead and I was sure they'd gone to far ahead.  They had.  I clocked the right path and peeled off to the right and downhill towards Haweswater.

I could see people looking over and heading back the right way. It's easily done.  The bracken had come up a massive amount since May's recce and it all looked a bit different at times but I carried on and eventually came to the footbridge and deer gate I'd been looking for.  It was going well. I'd struggled around the lake on the recce but I was feeling OK and made good progress on the single track path around the lake.

It's a long section and I was relieved to finally reach the Rigg.  After a small climb up and over it wasn't far to Mardale Head and my second checkpoint.

There was live tracking available online from the timing people but I'd signed up for additional updates to be posted to my Facebook timeline and Twitter Feeds. I wondered what they would be like.

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