Ultramarathon walks, and the time is nigh for the training to start….

So here we are in May already, and I can scarcely believe it. The year itself is going so quickly I almost cannot believe it, and of course so much is happening. We started the year still with the massive impact of Covid upon us all, and then of course the ongoing horrible and shameful assault of the Russians on the Ukrainian people hit everyone hard, and here we are with something called Monkeypox taking the headlines now. Where does it end?

On a personal note, since my last blog post I have retired! Not forever, I am almost certainly sure, but I have stopped working to take a break, and am currently a man of leisure. If you knew anything about my real life in the background of course then you’d know that ‘retirement’ for me thus far is the most unsedentary (is that even a word?) thing imaginable, but that’s another story. I’m also currently trying to let out my residence, a building that used to be a B&B (technically it still is….) as a holiday let, and that is consuming more time than I even have. I have also since the last post completed my first ultramarathon, of which a bit more later, and even more importantly, this weekend is my grandaughter’s first birthday, which makes me feel both old and immensely proud and happy in almost equal measure. The happiness is the overriding one, just in case you were wondering 🙂

So the ultramarathon you are wondering, what was all that about? Well after I moved to the Lakes in the summer of 2021, one of the first things I resolved was to do some trail running. And the best way for me to do basically anything at all, is to sign up to an event and then go and train big time for it, so that’s what I (apparently) did. Only trouble is, I completely forgot all about it (I kid you not). Life and stuff just got in the way, and although I joined Ambleside Athletic Club (which is basically a lot of very enthusiastic trail runners doing a lot of competitive events, the likes of which I could just about do on my hands and knees in my dreams), I haven’t done any proper trail running at all.

So fast forward about nine or ten months, and an email lands from the organisers of The Lap, a 47 mile ultramarathon around Lake Windermere, very close to where I live, with my entry details and bib number etc. When I first saw it I seriously thought it was either a joke or a mistake. I had (and in fact still have!) zero recollection of entering, despite the fact that I apparently paid a £95 entry fee! The Lap, it turns out, is one of the UK’s premium ultramarathons, has 8,500 feet of climbing, and was at one point a qualifying or points scoring race for the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, the world’s most prestigious ultramarathon. I looked at the requirements (the event was in 10 days time) and thought ‘not a snowball’s chance in hell can I even walk it’, but then decided in the next moment that I wanted to do it, and set about trying to do just that.

‘Doing it’ it turned out, was just as much of a logistical nightmare as the physical one which was undoubtedly about to befall me. The compulsory kit list alone (“a compulsory kit check will be carried out before and after the event, and if you are not carrying the requisite equipment you will be immediately disqualified from the event”) was huge, and contained several items which I certainly didn’t possess. But after a few trips to a great shop in Kendal (Pete Bland Sports in case you are interested!) I got all I needed i also took the opportunity to get myself some new trail shoes too – why not!

I decided ultimately to walk the event, as trying to run event part of it would have resulted in a DNF at best, and an injury more likely, so I opted to be sensible/careful, for me at least!

i decided ultimately that I would walk the event, as trying to run even part of it without having trained would have resulted in a DNF at best, and injury more likely, so i opted to be sensible/careful, for me at least!

It was a brilliant event in the end. I did walk it, although too briskly, with the occasional half jog on some of the earlier downhill sections. My lack of training meant that after about 34 or so miles, i could have happily given up. However, a lot if determination and a well placed poo break (!) put me in better spirits, and I soldiered on until the end, in a what was a very pleasing, if very tiring 14 hours and 46 minutes.

I’d thoroughly recommend the event to anyone thinking about it. Helped albeit by amazing weather (if a little too hot, but you can’t be too picky), everything was just great, from the food and drink at feed stations, to the setup of the base camp, to the friendliness of the marshalls, the great signposting (1,600 route markers apparently), and the brilliantly efficient event staff. As an example, I’d forgotten (Ok, I didn’t read the instructions properly) to take my half way bag (we were allowed to take a bag with a change of shoes and socks in for the half way point) with me to the registration the night before the event. A wonderfully helpful guy called Tommy, upon hearing of my disappointment in myself told me to bring it the following morning instead, and he personally saw to it (at 5:30 in the morning) that it got driven to the half way point for me later that day. Fantastic and over the above service or what?

High above Windermere near the summit of Latterbarrow, gasping for air!

And finally at the finish almost 15 hours later – I wasn’t as fresh as I seem to look!!

So next let’s talk about how the marathon training is going to shape up – it is only two days away now, and I am ready, I think for whatever it throws at me……….probably!

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