Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lakeland 50 - Mardale Head to Kentmere Institute

Arrived at Mardale Head.  Another busy and bustling checkpoint.

On the way around I thought I could hear a bell ringing.  There used to be a village in the valley called Mardale Green which was flooded when Haweswater reservoir was created in 1935. Most of the buildings were blown up by the Royal Engineers with the exception of the small church. The ruins of the abandoned village can occasionally be seen when the water level in the reservoir is low. For some reason, I had it in my head that this was the Mardale church bell.  It turned out to be a bell at the checkpoint rung for the arrival or departure of runners ( I think).

I rolled up with my arab scarf cloak wafting behind me and one of the marshals thought that the race needed a few more super heroes!  Made me smile. Once again plenty of helpful marshals on hand to sort you out.

I had planned to eat some sandwiches at this checkpoint but the heat had killed off my appetite somewhat.  I refilled and topped up my carb drink and forced down a ham sandwich and a handful of crisps. I also had a drink of flat coke which was wonderful.

You head straight up and onto the Gatesgarth pass from the Mardale checkpoint.  This had been a hellish climb on the recce in full sun on a hot day.  Fortunately, it was later in the day and the pass was in shade.  It was still hot but not as blisteringly hot as it can be. Hands on knees, huffing and puffing to the top again.

By this point I'd passed a few 100 mile runners still going and spoke a few words of encouragement each time I overtook them filled with awe.  I passed a couple more on the way up the Gatesgarth Pass.

Once at the top, it's a rough track all the way down through Long Sleddale to Sadgill. I'm not the best descender in the world but I knew this rough path was coming and I managed it a lot better than on the recce. At end of the long lane you turn off and head off up and over to Kenmere.

It was on this leg that I bumped into Jane and we ran and power walked along together to the checkpoint. I think we had probably been bumping into each other on and off all the way but we buddied up for a while here. The cameraderie is one of the best things about this race.  You can enter as a solo but there is always someone around if you need a bit of company or help with navigation.  Sometimes you stick together for a while, sometimes only for a few minutes. It's all very friendly.  Himself was long gone and that was OK; we'd entered as solo runners not as a pair and in any case he is miles faster than me. It would have been very frustrating for him to crawl along with me.  I knew that there would be plenty of people around and I was pretty confident that I knew where I was going.

At the end of the stage the route cuts across some fields and there are a few wall stills to get over in close succession which is when you really start to feel the strain of all those miles on your legs!  It's quite an effort to clamber up those things after 25 miles or so. We managed a respectable run  up the road to the checkpoint and dibbed in.

Pasta meal on offer here and I was ready for it.  I ate with gusto and then hit the fruit smoothies.  Oh how lovely they were.  I cadged a couple of strawberries and topped up my carb drink.  I was ready for the off.  Jane was still eating so I headed off as I wanted to get into Ambleside before dark.

Kentmere checkpoint is just over half way at 27 miles so getting there is great psychologically because you have less miles to go than you have already done.

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