Sent: 13 October 2011 11:14
Subject: V S Update Marathon Edition 2011


In view of the Striders Autumn marathon tour to Palma this weekend, it seems a good time to release the long awaited V S Update Marathon Edition 2011.  And perhaps following the Striders Autumn marathon there will be a Marathon Edition 2011 part 2!


Hopefully none of the stories will make the national press.  Did you see two stories from the weekend.  I’m pretty confident that we won’t have a repeat of but I did see some V S messages going back and forth “has anyone got a bus timetable for Palma?” see


You will spot a hilly theme to this set of reports.  I was the sad one who ran a plain (but hilly) road marathon, one or two of the other races were shorter but certainly harder, the rest, well make a plate of pasta as you’ll need to carbo-load just for the reading…




 (in alphabetical order of race)

·         Borrowdale Fell Race - 6 August – from Amanda Seims

·         English Fell Racing Championship 2011 – from Mark Woodhead

·         Ironman UK triathlon 2011 at Bolton – from Richard Adcock

·         Lakeland 50 - from Andreas Mayer

·         Lyke Wake race, 9 July – from Sarah Smith

·         Mont Blanc Marathon - 26 June – from Eirik Stangnes

·         Windermere Marathon – 22 May – from Bob Jackson


Borrowdale Fell Race - 6 August - from Amanda Seims


The weekend before the race, I went to the Lakes to try and walk round the course after being told that the race route does not follow many OS-mapped paths between checkpoints and that I should try to find the ‘runner’s paths’ using a Harveys race map (described using terms of feet and yards and local names for streams which don’t appear on the OS map!). 


After constantly finding, and immediately losing, these 'runners' paths’ in fog and rain, I decided that maybe I didn't want to be a fell runner after all, and I had no chance of making the 4:30 hour cut-off at Honister on race day.  The reccie also made me recall a conversation I'd had with Xanthe last year about a race in the lakes she entered, decided to reccie and then decided not to race it after spending hours of the reccie lost, scrambling over rocks and cliff faces and being on mostly un-runnable dawned on me that this must be the same race that I'd stupidly entered!


I decided I'd turn up and see how things went and not to expect to make the cut-off.   The weather forecast on race day was torrential rain, becoming worse during the day with thunderstorms and indeed at the start line we were all standing around in our Goretex in torrential rain.   The race started with a fairly immediately blockage down a narrow path which consequented in everyone walking for a few minutes which was a nice break in to the pace and I was pleasantly surprised to find the rain suddenly stopping for good. 


The course then took in killer climb up to the top of Bessy Boot and along the infamous vague runners paths which contour around the side of the long ride towards Esk Hause.  This section was mostly runnable apart from the thigh deep bog I managed to fall in and a lucky escape when I fell off the path and slipped down the hill.  After Esk Hause you head over the slippery boulder fields across Broad Crag, down the col and back up the other side to the top of Scafell Pike.  At this point I knew that the race map recommended you go back down to the col and down the steep slippery scree path but to my concern everyone in front of me was going in a different direction and heading straight off Scafell; what do I do?  I tentatively followed them and when I saw the big bouldery scree slope they were heading for I made a sharp turn and headed back down to the col and on the path I knew and actually beat some of those runners down!


The race then follows the Corridor route or rather parts of it as most runners seemed to stray off the path cutting off corners and disappearing over steep banks (not always good to just follow them!).   I was feeling pretty good when I got to the bottom of Great Gable, having held back earlier in the race and taken it steady.  I was very pleased that fellow V.S. Andreas had offered to walk there with a drink for me as it turned out to be quite a humid day and with a huge smile on my face and shouting that I felt great and was ecstatic as I knew I should make the cut-off I set off for killer climb number 2 up to the top of Great Gable (passing the famous Joss Naylor on the way - no he wasn't running!). 


The top of Great Gable is apparently one of the best views in Britain but that day the cloud came in, just as it did the week before, so I saw nothing and to top it off I got a strange cramp in my foot and had to stop for 5 minutes to try and ease it off.  Gutted after losing a lot of places and a fair amount of time I scrambled down the very vague rocky cliff-face path to Windy Gap then back up to follow yet more vague runners paths which contoured around the ridge and then down the very long steep descent to Honister which turned my legs to jelly and fatigued me more mentally than anything else. 


I made the cut-off with almost 30 minutes to spare which was great and then I immediately faced killer climb number 3 up Dale Head which was pretty tough and has a lot of false summits.  Again I had the difficult choice of which person to follow down and decided to take what looked like the most direct route but then proved to be the slowest route with it being so steep and slippery and the long winding path may have actually been the better option.


The last few miles of the race takes you through a slate valley which I found mostly difficult to run in the reccie but again, on the race day people took vague paths away from the main track which made it a little more runnable.  I was feeling pretty happy at this point as I still felt good and knew we didn't have far to go and we'd finished all the hills and I let my feet take me quickly down a long stretch of grass only to be scuppered by a wet rock section which sent me flying onto the floor and a painful landing.  I'd come so far and wasn't about to give up so the best thing to do was to pick myself up, brush myself down and run through the pain.  I managed to  cross the finish line in 5:08 and felt happy knowing that I could have knocked quite a bit of time off that if I'd pushed harder, taken better paths, not fallen over and not stopped so much. 


I was greeted by a post race cup of tea, sandwich and massage which isn't bad for a £6 entry fee in addition to all the support and encouragement given by the organisers and marshals around the route. 


In a very twisted way I enjoyed pretty much every minute of the race, had a huge smile on my face most of the time and the 5 hours passed incredibly quickly due to the sheer concentration needed. I was extremely glad I'd reccied it even though we hadn't followed too much of the race route as it meant I always had a vague idea of where I was and what to expect. 


If you are considering this event then you don't need to be worried about the hills as most people walk every slight gradient and go carefully on the technical downhill but you do need perseverance to keep a steady pace during the rest of the race and be fairly comfortable at the thought of having to get out your map and compass if the weather closes in.   I arrived feeling like a fell-running impostor but realised that I'm not the only one who struggles with technical terrain and I obviously have the sadistic mentality it takes to achieve all that is Borrowdale. 


Race report blog:

Great Gable:
Dale Head:


English Fell Racing Championship – from Mark Woodhead


A quick note of self-congratulation (sometimes you have to do it yourself!) that might be of interest to Striders fell runners and would-be-fell runners. On Sunday I completed the last of all six of the English Fell Racing Championship events. Similar to the VS fell championship, the English counters are made up of 2 'short' races, 2 'medium' and 2 'long' (I think you need to complete at least one of each and one other to earn your points). I've no idea how I've done overall or if my points total is actually recorded anywhere - I'll leave that to the Ian Holmes' and Lloyd Taggart's of this world to worry about. I finished the last race on Sunday (Sedbergh Hills; 14 miles and 6000' of up - though it felt more like 25 miles and 10000'!) about 2/3rds of the way down the field of 334 finishers. That was pretty much the way of each of my races (tho I did much better in the two short ones - Mearley Clough and Whittle Pike). For anyone interested (ie still reading this!), the English Championship was won by Lloyd Taggart from Dark Peak (who came 2nd on Sunday, behind Morgan Donnelly from Borrowdale who I think won last year's Three Peaks). Not sure yet who won the womens' Championship, but Jacqui Lee of Eryri Harriers won on Sunday in 2hrs 32min. Next year's races have already been chosen; all six are new to me - I can't wait (and it'd be great if some other Striders are able to join me). Completing all six English championship counters was a personal goal for me this year. Now I've done it it leaves me time to work my way up that VS Fell champs league table!


Ironman UK 2011 (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) at Bolton – from Richard Adcock


The day started with a wake-up call at 3:30am but it didn’t matter as I had been half awake for the last hour - nerves I guess as I’m not normally awake at that time and there was already activity outside the hotel.

Down in the restaurant they offered a 'special athletes breakfast' from 3am, consisting of everything... bacon, eggs, porridge, toast, yum, a perfect start to the day.


Outside, although it was still dark, the weather was perfect, clear and still and predicted to be nice but not too warm.


Everything had been checked in the previous day so at the start area there were just a few last minute preparations: check tyre pressures, put drinks bottles on bike, a bit of milling around and then from 5.30am start being counted into the water.


It was a strange yet reassuring feeling to be surround by over 1100 athletes all thinking the same thing ... it's really happening... can't back out now... Oh dear!!...


After quarter of an hour treading water the national anthem was played at 6am, followed by a big cheer and we are off....Mayhem...Arms...Legs.... and some serious jockeying for position... I love the triathlon mass start swim J


I soon settled in to a rhythm and really enjoyed the swim, finishing the two laps about where I expected in 1:04:11 (255th)


Helpers guide you out of the water and it is a 200m run to the transition area [T1] through a huge crowd of adoring, cheering fans (not sure if they were all for me but it felt great!), grab the bag and do a quick change out of my wetsuit, helmet on, slurp a gel, find the bike and run to the mount line for the bike leg (4:21, 164th).


The bike leg was described as ‘undulating’ (read the profile looks like The Three Peaks race) with 7921' of climbing, but it was just like having a day out cycling in the Dales, a really enjoyable ride where you were up out of the saddle for the up-hills and head down on the aero-bars for the majority of the rest.


I've spent a lot of time on the bike this year and was really pleased with my time, averaging 18.17mph over the 112 miles, I came in 6:09:50 (192nd)


An advantage of wearing clipped in shoes is you can take your feet out a few hundred metres before the end in preparation, jump off, give the bike to a helper and then run barefoot into the transition area [T2] to put on running shoes, have another gel and go... (1:54, 53rd)


I implemented a new eating plan recently and when I came in off the bike felt really strong and ready to do a marathon.


The run route was about eight miles down from Horwich to Bolton then three laps of a six mile out and back course finishing back in Bolton town centre, and the first two miles were great, the crowds were out in force, I felt good, had a good pace and then all the gels and Gatorade I'd had through the day made themselves known and I needed a trip to the loo (this was to become an all too regular occurrence that I will not dwell on... other than to say four times!!...)


The route down involved a bit of road, a bit of trail along the canal, then up the hill and turned on to the main road for the last two miles into Bolton with a section of twists and turns through the city centre that never seemed to end before heading back out to do it all again...


You received a band at the turnaround point of the run so there was no way of cheating the distance but I did find a psychological boost in passing other people with fewer bands than myself.


My plan had been to keep running throughout the run no matter how slowly I went, and other than through every aid station where I walked to drink water and the hill out of the city this worked for the first twenty or so miles but the inevitable happened and I did slow to a walk a few times, but quickly forced myself to start running again.


At the start of the last lap a friend over for support, ran with me for a hundred metres, chastised me for going too slowly and when I used a colloquism for ‘I’m very tired…’ told me to ‘Speed up, it’s not supposed to be easy!!..’ thanks Ady J


Heading back into the city for the last time and running down the finishing chute felt fantastic, the crowds were banging bam bams (I had to google it) and cheering, and crossing the finishing line I heard over the tannoy what I have wanted to hear for the last 2 years... “RICHARD ADCOCK YOU ARE AN IRONMAN


I finished the run in 4:06:43 (470th).


Overall finishing time 11:26:57 (251st out of 1051 finishers - the winner in 8:34:24 and the last finisher in 16:46:20)


As I was collecting my bike from [T2] a conversation with a marshal went something like ‘Never again’, ‘You’ll be back next year’, ‘Probably...’ and the next day I was looking for the next one.


More information/pictures/entry forms are available from


Detailed splits at


Lakeland 50 - from Andreas Mayer


22 degrees +, sunny skies and no wind;  normally the kind of weather I'd pray for in the Lake District, but not when attempting to run 50 miles through it.  


The Lakeland 50 ( has been my main running aim this year and it did not disappoint: a strong field with ~500 runners, stunning scenery, excellent organisation throughout, very strong camaraderie amongst the competitors, lots of good, varied running, all one could want from a race really, except that it was so bloody hot!  Even on top of the large climbs there was no refreshing breeze, no wind at all, just baking sun and after a few hours people, including myself, started to suffer - not so nice when there are 12 hours + to go!


But sometime in the late afternoon things got a bit cooler, the running a bit easier, and I managed to team up with a chap called James who, despite frequent electrolyte tablet induced vomiting interruptions, proved to be a good running buddy.   Friendly chat about past and future runs made miles 20-35, all the way into Ambleside, pretty straightforward and in Ambleside my spirits were further lifted by the vocal support crew that met me there.  


The last 15 miles were a bit of a blur though, mainly because it was dark by then and the focus was just on staying in touch with torches ahead, but also because tiredness had set in and thoughts were definitely turning towards the finish line. 


So in the end I got to there at 2.30 am in the morning, after 14 hours and 5 minutes, finishing 128th out of 404 finishers, not bad for my first long run. 


Will I be back next year?  For sure, hopefully a bit fitter, hopefully with a few more Valley Strider runners in the line up, and hopefully on a cooler day, but this is definitely one to remember and one to come back to for many, many years...




PS some pictures can be found here:


Lyke Wake race - 9 July – from Sarah Smith


The morning of Saturday 9 July was dry and quite crisp as I hurried along the lane from Osmotherley to Sheepwash car park for my start time of 5.20 am. A few minutes later it was time to go, along the road, across the cattlegrid to take the path into Coalmire plantation, across a field, a ford, a road, up steep stone steps, across Carlton Moor, down Carlton Bank, to the first check point, Carlton Bank, 6.30 am.


After this, a little detour from the Cleveland Way meant less climb and less view but more progress, missing out Cringle Moor but this is a race and this is allowed; nipping through Broughton plantation meant missing out Hasty Bank and the viewpoint for the photo opportunity but sometimes the low road is the best.  Down to the second check point, Chop Gate at 7.17 am. 


Now here is a little climb, up Carr Ridge to another Round Hill, above Greenhow Moor; past Bloworth Crossing and along the disused railway which wends its way round the dalehead to Farndale Moor.  Mile after mile it’s easy to imagine you are a train winding your way along the winding track… and then you pull into the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, check point number three, at 9 am.  Here you are treated to rice pudding and peaches.  Two cups of coffee here too.  A marshall recognised my Striders vest and wondered where all the Striders were, he remembered there used to be a lot in years gone by.  


Five years ago, I couldn’t believe people ran from Osmotherley to Ravenscar, the seed was sown, I started running and here I am, running in the Lyke Wake race.  The overriding feeling is one of freedom, as you fly across the moors for just over 40 miles relying on the kindness of strangers and you don’t know how you are going to get home. 


This is a handicap race, the organisers decide your start time taking into account your previous times and your own estimated time.  If you beat your estimated time by 2 hours or more you are disqualified. 


Well, Geoff told me to get a team together and Sylvia told me if you believe you can run that far you will.  There was some interest but strangely enough people had to move house the same weekend and taper for the Lakeland 50 so no team formed but I knew I could run that far and entered. 


Dear Race Director.  Last time I entered the Lyke Wake race, I was timed out at Eller Beck, however since then I have taken up running.  I think I could aim for 10 hours but it could be longer but I am sure I could finish within 12 hours. With thanks. Etc.


The seven checkpoints between the start and finish provide water, jelly babies, biscuits, cakes, millionaire’s shortbread, and an opportunity to connect with humanity; there are some very fine people marshalling at the checkpoints and they are all part of the history and tradition of the Lyke Wake race. 


Leaving the Lion Inn, you cut across Rosedale Head and follow the road round past Fat Betty and turn left where the tarmac has been helpfully sprayed LWW – this is the way to the sea, you see the path stretching out for miles ahead – once you have emerged from the boggy West Gill Head, you embrace Shunner Howe and past there, come to check point 4, Hamer Track at 10.21 am.


Past Blue Man i’ th’ Moss standing stone, you wend your way through Wheeldale Moor, keeping Bumble Wood on your left, I lost the path and realised quite quickly I was going in the wrong direction so ended up flying across heather to meet the path further ahead.   It’s getting quite warm now.    Arrive at check point 5, Stape Road at 11.24 am.  


Stepping across the stones across Wheeldale beck, you then climb up to Simon Howe and enjoy fabulous views ahead; there is a good stretch here and you descend to cross the North Yorkshire Moors railway then you are at check point 6, Eller Beck Bridge at 12.10 pm.


Deborah, Joey and Tulip were meeting me at Eller Beck with dry trainers but I was going much faster than I had expected to, and had to rush off without waiting for them.    It was singularly kind of Deb to agree to meet me at a random point on the A169 with little information other than the words Eller Beck between 1 and 3 pm… so leaving without the support I had requested I felt ungrateful but I couldn’t wait. 


This section was the hardest.  I lost the path and ploughed through heather possibly on the brink of becoming crazed.  Where was Lilla Cross? Nowhere to be seen…  But looking back I could see a group of runners and they seemed to be catching me up – I endured an ad hoc fartlek session looking for paths of burnt heather to make up some time on and eventually found the track which led me to Lilla Howe and the eponymous Cross where I thanked the heavens for my good fortune, inhaled a banana and a sports gel, wiped my face with my arm and off I went. 


I took a wrong fork to the left and was overtaken by two people who stayed on the right path to my right; my path started to divert back to the right and just as I was about to meet them the man fell,  the lady stopped, I ran past and then turned round to check he was ok – he was – so I kept going but they over took me again, I think.  It’s all a little blurry from here on.  Down the ravine that is Jugger Howe, up the other side and rolling along the tank road to check point 7, Jugger Howe Road at 1.45 pm.


The last hour of my run was accompanied by thunder and lightening but I escaped the storm, the torrential rain and hail which rained down on Fylingdales Moor running at a good pace into the Raven Hall Hotel in sunlight at 2.20 pm exactly nine hours after I set off. 


“I’m here” I joked, as I lurched into the gazebo at the finish and picked up my certificate, a t-shirt (preordered and prepaid) and a very high quality glass memento with the Lyke Wake coffin floating in the middle; this memento recalling the Lyke Wake dirge which the route was named after, the old dialect verse describing the journey of the soul across the desolate moors on its way to heaven or hell.  


Deb, Joey and Tulip surprised me by meeting me at the end which I hadn’t expected so seeing them at the Raven Hall Hotel was a real treat – I tucked into some houmous sandwiches, saw a wedding party in their finery promenading against the dramatic backdrop of the North Sea and Robin Hood’s Bay from the hotel lawns in glorious sunshine, had a shower in the Raven Hall Hotel and was whisked away as the heavy rain came down. 


I was told at one check point that I was the first runner through, and would win the race if I got a move on - but two others finished before me; I was the second lady to finish which felt great but I did have a headstart on most.   


My time: 09:00
My position: 24th
102 entered, 86 started, 73 finished

1st man  Neil Ridsdale 05:49
1st lady  Shelli Gordon 06:42

A letter from the Race Director dated 11 July encloses the results sheet, gives a weather report of the conditions on race day, and goes on to castigate previous entrants and clubs, for “None of the previous regular competitors that have ceased running have ever shown an interest in helping – especially the running clubs, the Valley Striders, East Hull Harriers and Chapel Allerton etc etc”.   Well, I said at the end I would marshall next year and I was told I couldn’t because I would be running it.   The race is in jeopardy with a dearth of marshals who are getting older (“more marshals between 65 and 80 plus than under 60”) and diminishing in number naturally.


Mont Blanc Marathon - 26 June – from Eirik Stangnes


This is my my favourite race of all time and after running it last year, missing out this year was never an option. Impressively, 1941 out of  2000 runners started the race so Chamonix centre was full of runners and supporters creating an electric atmosphere before the 7am start of the race.


The first 20k follows a relatively flat trail up the Chamonix Valley to Vallorcine (total climb 600m, decent 400) passing a number of village where the locals were out in force cheering the runners on.


The village of Valorcine(1260m) created a proper carnival atmosphere with a lot music and the best food/drink station I have seen in a race. Last year I overate in style at the same point so this year I sacked off eating all the local cheese, salami, ham, flapjacks, cakes, etc and went for bananas and energy drinks only.


From Vallorcine the route goes up 941 meters up to Col des Possetes (2000m) and Augilettes des Possets (2201m).  The decision of sticking to bananas and energy drinks only paid off as I was whopping 13 minutes quicker than last year up to the next drink station at Col des Possettes where we were greeted by a guy and his guitar playing La Bamba.


I had now been out 2h33m and inspired by the stunning views of the Mont Blanc massive and beyond, I managed to push on for the last 200 meters up to the top which is practically the halfway point before starting on a narrow technical downhill section through the woods  back down to the valley.


The French don't like running downhill so like last year I was overtaking quite a alot of people down to the Le Tour (1400m) and Trail Le Champ (1363m). At Trail Le champ there was another superb drink/foot station but I managed to resist the goodies again and after stopping for energy drink and bananas only, I started the next climb up to Flegere(1897m).


I had now been out for 3h32m and the the legs were getting tired in the hot sunshine but lure of the unlimited free beer at the finish plus that the locals were really out in force now meant that I just had to crack on as fast I could.


I reached Flegere after about an hour and I had now been out 4h35m and with 5k and 400m up and 150m down to go I knew I would smash my time time of 5.54 from last year. The last section (the grand balcon sud for those with local knowledge) to the finish follows a very rocky and technical trail with at times some very steep drops so with tired legs it is difficult to run with any speed here.


With about 35-40min to go you can hear the finish and with 20min left, you can see it but they make you run down a good 200 meters before you follow the ski piste up to the finish at Planpraz (2016m). The last climb is a bit of killer but there are so many people around at this points and with free unlimited beers from the Microbrewery in Chamonix (MBC) waiting at the finish, it was impossible not keep smiling all the way to the finish.


I finished in 118th place out of 1941 starters (1815 finished) with the time 5.23.16 and that was over 31 minutes faster and 160 places higher up than last year so that's probably as good as it gets for me. I skipped the so called sensible post race drinks and went straight for the beer and my word how good that cold beer tasted in the scorching heath.


I stayed up at the finish for about a couple of hours enjoying the stunning view and taking advantaged of the beer on offer before getting the cable car down to Chamonix where there is a great free post race buffet with more beer and also wine on offer.


This is just a great race with the most stunning views and there is also a Half Marathon (23K) and a 10k the day before the Marathon so I would say this would be a great international Striders event for both runners and supporters.



1  Nicolas Pianet (France) 03:56:42
118 Eirik Stangnes (Valley Striders / Norway) 05:23:16

Course profile:

Full results:

Windermere Marathon –22 May – from Bob Jackson


The Windermere marathon had started in the late 80’s, stopped in the 90’s and was revived in 2007.  Eric Green and myself went to that race.  He ran 3:05 and was presented with the cup for 1st M50 by legendary fell runner Joss Naylor (please Google).  I’d finished 30th in a very pleasing 3:12 but was a little disappointed in that there were 3 M55’s in front of me and I missed out on a cup (and shaking Joss Naylor’s hand) by one place.


This year, I wasn’t running anywhere near 3:12 but was hoping that those three M55’s ahead of me (a) hadn’t entered or (b) had not yet reached 60 or (c) had got slower too.


Alistair Smyth, Greg Skerrett and Simon Redshaw were the other Striders running.  They were all making a weekend of it, but with a 10:30 start and a 2 hour drive, I just traveled up on the day.  As I left Leeds it was sunny, I met drizzle at Ilkley, rain at Skipton, and by the time I was in the Lakes, I couldn’t see any mountain tops.  I’d brought sun-cream and a hat but no thermal nor a bin-liner for waiting at the start.


I picked up my number and chip at registration, saw Simon and Alistair, talked to the Kirkstall Harriers ladies team (told them it was undulating like Leeds half), and went back to the car to get changed.  It started to rain heavily (sitting in the car it sounded like hail).  But just 20 minutes before the start, as the brass band started up to lead the runners to the start, the rain stopped, so I thought I’d better get out of the car and go for a run.


I’d been going well in February but a cough had stopped me running for 3 weeks early March and at my comeback race at Wakefield the first Sunday in April I’d just managed to get under 45 minutes.  The following week Baildon had been tough, and I’d almost decided to write off the £32 entry fee for Windermere.  But then I did 3 training runs of 20 miles in the subsequent 3 weeks, the third in just under 3 hours when I felt reasonably OK at the end (although not capable of another 6 miles), and I thought it was worth a go.


The Striders squad all lined up about 12 rows back from the start line.  And off we went.  I picked up Sharon Gayter (Google to read about the best lady ultramarathoner in the UK) after about a mile and had a chat with her for a minute or two.  She said she was just on a training run, aiming for 3:40, with an ultra coming up in a week or two.  I took my leave, saying she might see me later.


The first 3 miles all seemed to be uphill (looking at the course profile afterwards showed that they were) and then the next 3 miles were undulating.  During this time I was running and chatting with two Scots guys (both called Jim), they were looking for 3:45, I said I was looking for 3:35 to 3:45.  There was a hill at 5 but I’d remembered it from last time as steeper.  However I was already worried what the Kirkstall ladies would say to me; those 5 miles had definitely been tougher than the first 5 for Leeds.


We were all breathing fairly easily, and I was attempting to use one of my recommended marathon tactics – run easily for 6 miles and then the 20 miles that is left is a distance that I know I can do.  At 6 we were 30 seconds under 48 minutes and checking breathing, legs and bits that might chafe, I certainly felt everything was going OK.  Now I know that 48 divided by 6 is 8 and 8 times 26¼ is 3hrs 30mins and 3hrs30mins is the Good For Age qualifying time for M60 at London.  This was not really in the original race plan but was now certainly part of it.


Remember the hill at mile 5 that didn’t seem so steep as last time.  That was because the real hill was at mile 7!  But we (me and the 2 Jims) got up it in a 9 minute mile and although we were now a few seconds over 8’s there was a long downhill to come.  All went well for another couple of miles but then there was another hill where I tried to maintain pace, the Jims were left behind, but it started to feel like hard work.  I was now worrying a bit about the remaining 16 miles. 


We passed the Lakeside Hotel (“best 4-star hotel in the Lakes” and “the only thing it overlooks is the Lake”) and turned at the end of the Lake at the 12 mile point.  This is the point in the race that it changes from scenic country lane half marathon to busy main road half marathon.  I remembered the traffic which had “recommended speed limit 20”; most of the time it did 20 to 30 but there were times when we were going faster than the traffic.  But not one word of abuse from the motorists unlike when I’d run Manchester in 2003.  What I had forgotten was that although the road follows very close to lake side for the whole of the second half, the road is still very undulating.


At 15 miles I was still a minute under 8’s so still with hope of 3:30 and I kept going although each mile was harder than the last just to maintain speed.  Eventually the effort took its toll and I started to slow down at 18 miles.  There was a lady from Cleethorpes who was walking up the hills – I was catching her up and on one, overtaking – but then she’d pick up the pace on the downhills and get away from me.  We reached 20 in 2:40 and I knew that maintaining 8’s for the last 6 would not be possible!  Instead I adopted survival tactics.  Mentally I was trying to save just a little in case any old blokes tried to overtake – fortunately none came past.  Those last 6 miles averaged 9 minutes per mile and I finished in 3:37 – not bad on 3 training runs of 20 miles (by the way this is not recommended practice).


NB when I checked my split times later, I found that the last 385 yards took nearly 4 minutes.  The next day I compared with Simon and he’d had a similar time.  The last 100 yards is up a steep hill but I’d not walked so obviously a problem with the mile markers.  So memo to anyone running Windermere and aiming for a target – allow an extra 2 minutes for that extra long 385 yards.


The guys were all waiting for me at the finish, and we compared experiences.  Greg was first Strider in at 3:22.  Alistair had been hoping to qualify for London with 3:15 but an old injury has resurfaced at 7 miles and in the circumstances he’d been pleased to finish in 3:28.  Simon told me that he he’d heard me just behind him at 20 miles but he’d managed to maintain his speed and run 3:32.


Now the nice thing about these smaller races is that the start, finish, car park and facilities are all within a short distance of each other.  I hobbled the 150 yards back to the car, had a quick rub down, put on some fresh clothes and went back to the finish, not so much to watch the runners come in but more to have one of the sausage sandwiches that I’d smelt as I’d crossed the finish line.  And a second one.  I saw Jill from Kirkstall (she was supporting not running) and asked her to pass on my apologies for mis-describing the course.  I found Simon and family in the beer tent (also less than 30 yards from the finish line).


Then to look for the results.  I’d finished 2nd M60 which was a pleasant surprise for “only” 3:37.  But I was only 40 seconds behind the first place.  I couldn’t have done it on the day but an extra couple of weeks’ training and an extra two 20 mile run would have been enough.


The presentations took an age to set up but I was going to wait.  Again there were 3 cups for each 5 year age band, I’ll let you multiply that up (don’t forget to multiply by 2 for men/women).  Joss Naylor was here again handing out the cups and he had a brief chat with everyone who stepped up for their cup.  If it hadn’t been for the fact that many of the prizewinners had left we would have been there till early evening.  He said to me something along the lines of “Bob Jackson, that’s a famous name” which took me by surprise and I said something about Bob Jackson the racing cyclist who used to live about 200 yards from me in Scarcroft.  Apart from the cup there was also a £20 Pete Bland Sports voucher and a tin of Grasmere gingerbread.


Following the race prizegiving was the presentation to 12 runners who’d completed 10 marathons in 10 days.  I’ll repeat that, yes, for each of the last 10 days they’d run the full Windermere marathon route.  Each of them received a medal and a signed copy of Joss’s autobiography.


I’d been standing by Joss’s car while the presentations took place and when he went back to the car, I asked him whether he had any more signed copies of his book.  He said not, but that he thought there were some unsigned copies on Pete Bland’s stall and he said he’d sign one if I could get one.  I also apologised / explained the Bob Jackson confusion – I said I knew about Bob Jackson the fell runner from Horwich Harriers, in fact I’d been to Bob Jackson’s 60th birthday race a few years ago where the race had been won by Bob’s son Rob.  (see )


The Grasmere gingerbread has been eaten, the voucher converted to a pair of knee-length tights (look out for them this winter), the cup is on the window ledge of the office at home and I am proud owner of a copy of “Joss” inscribed “to one of the Bob Jacksons, best wishes, Joss Naylor MBE”.


 72 Greg Skerrett      3:22:09
 89 Alistair Smyth     3:28:12
106 Simon Redshaw      3:32:58
125 Bob Jackson        3:37:25

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