I have a patchy history with this race: I have entered and done the 1/2 once (or twice? can’t remember now..) and have entered the mara twice and finished once. It is a two loop course which accounts for the DNF, (I will add links to the relevant posts later, but I am on the tablet and it is a palaver). So I am always a bit angsty about it, though it is easily one of my top 5 races (scenery, level of up and downiness, scenery, atmosphere).
So as I was undoubtedly marathon-fit I didn’t attempt to wimp out and change my entry on the morning. I was busy anyhow. My tent, as will be witnessed by my Personal Untrainer and the Man Who Really Likes Cockles, is elderly (1997 I think) and a bit saggy.
Quick course recce Friday pm – just after the first mile is where the hills begin.
The view from half way up the first hill – it really was a lovely evening.
Now this isn’t much of a problem in nice weather, or even in wet and relatively windy weather, but in very heavy rain with no wind, the water pools and then just enters the tent, no matter how much I shake it off. As the weather was not attractive last night, I woke up at about 5.30 in the campsite trying to make up my mind what to do. I managed to fill my kettle by just positioning it underneath one of the drips. The forecast was for the rain to stop in the morning, but with showers and possibly some more on the way. Langdale is a gorgeous valley surrounded by hills and therefore has no phone signal or wifi that I could access; so I couldn’t check the rain radar. The campsite had no spare pods (mini chalets in National Trust speak).
So I waited till about 8.00 while the rain got heavier, then just stuffed everything into Madame C and drove the mile up the road to the race start. The thought of running a marathon in the wet, to return to a wet tent with wet stuff was not one I was entertaining. So I parked up in the traditional muddy field (specifically laid on I assume, so that Madame C could show off again) and went and begged in the hotel next to the start. To cut a long story short, they possibly had a no-show for the one empty room, but wouldn’t know till they could get hold of him.
So I registered and had the most interesting conversation with a man about marathons and ultras (he was on marathon no 49 and was entertaining a yearning for a 100 Marathon Club tshirt; but had also done rather a lot of ultras) which passed the time queuing in the rain. About 30 minutes before the race was due to start, I popped into the hotel and they had managed to free up the room. I was so, so happy. And the receptionist was so nice, and it didn’t cost me as much as I had been frightened it would. I could have driven into Ambleside after the race and tried to find a room, but the thought of trolling round while tired and damp was just too horrible.
After a postponed start, the rain finally eased off and the race itself was fine. Hard, long, hilly but fine. Not a pb but 4.47 which was about what I was hoping for. Tweaks to the strategy: didn’t run to pace (way too hilly), started the Babies earlier before I was tired (big plus), took ibuprofen at 9 and 18 miles (small amounts, I know they are not good for running really) which made a massive difference with my naggy hamstring.
And because the hotel was at the finish, all I had to do was repark Madame C and pick up a key, then sink into a hot bath. Perfect, perfect happiness. Hotel (the New Dungeon Ghyll) is very nice, completely geared to outdoorsy activity, would recommend highly especially as the staff are human and very jolly.