22 May 2024

If it was easy, it wouldn’t be an achievement…

By the Lonely Goats Running Club

The Montane Lakeland 100 Ultra Tour of the Lake District is the most spectacular long-distance trail race which has ever taken place within the UK.

The circular route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent, and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. The route starts in Coniston and heads south before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale, and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here, the route heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston.

The route does not pass over any of the ‘popular’ Lakeland summits. Instead, it weaves its way through stunning valleys, contours picturesque fells, and cuts its own line through the amazing Lakeland topography. The Lakeland 100 will take you to places in Cumbria you may never have visited before, and it’s likely you’ll wonder why.

The event is continuous in nature; competitors don’t have to stop or sleep on the route, and the winners are generally expected to finish close to the 20-hour mark. The overall time available for the route is 40 hours, so sleep at intermediate checkpoints is possible, but time is not on your side.

There are 14 manned checkpoints on the course which are compulsory to visit; food and drink are available at each. Checkpoints generally consist of village halls (where available), staffed by support teams who are ready to greet you, feed you, and encourage you onwards. The 40 hours available to complete the course may seem manageable upon your first calculations, but don’t be fooled.

The climb, descent, rugged terrain, darkness, and tricky navigation generally ensure a 40-50 per cent failure rate over the 100-mile course. Seasoned ultra- runners have tried, and many have failed; a finisher’s medal in the Lakeland 100 is possibly one of the most treasured possessions you will ever receive. There are few things in life for which you will have to work so hard, show such commitment, desire, and the simple stubbornness to keep going. The minority who have completed the event will concur.

The 100-mile event started at 6pm on the Friday evening, and the final cut-off will be 10am Sunday morning. The event requires competitors to be experienced ultra-distance runners with excellent navigation skills. The dropout rate for this event is a warning signal for anyone contemplating entry; the majority of those who fail are inadequately prepared. Before considering an entry, consider the preparation, consider the hours, and consider what it takes to complete the Lakeland 100. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be an achievement.

The Lakeland 50 is one of the greatest ultra- trail challenges in Europe, perhaps the world. It is run over the second half of the Lakeland 100 Ultra Tour of the Lake District, completing the final 50 miles of the 100-course. As it’s only half of the Lakeland 100 course, it’s the easy option, right? That’s the first and worst error you could possibly make.

It’s a fact that 40-50 per cent of the 100-mile competitors don’t finish the course; 80-90 per cent of those drop out prior to or “at” halfway. Many great ultra-runners have started the 100-course and found it just too difficult, too demanding; half of the course was “enough”. The Lakeland 50 is “half of the course”; it’s almost double the distance of a marathon, it’s on rough terrain, and there’s approximately 3,100m of ascent to deal with. Whether you choose the 50 or the 100-mile course, there is no “easy option” available. The Lakeland 50 is a huge challenge; it requires commitment, drive, and the ability to “just keep going” when most folk would “just rather not”.

The route starts from the northern end of Ullswater within the grand Dalemain Estate before following the eastern shoreline as far as Howtown. A quick climb and descent followed by a trek along the banks of Haweswater see you at Mardale Head. The route from here visits Long Sleddale, Kentmere, Ambleside, Langdale and Tilberthwaite before the final climb and descent to the finish at Coniston. It is a truly amazing route, and you will visit places that you never knew existed, places which are ignored by the masses.

There are six manned checkpoints on the course which are compulsory to visit; food and drink are available at each. The support teams will greet you and feed you before sending you in the direction of Coniston. The 50-mile event starts at 11.30am on Saturday from Dalemain Estate near Penrith.

There is a briefing for all competitors at Coniston on Saturday morning before the “fleet” of coaches arrive to take you to the start line, leaving your car, tent, and personal items waiting for you at the finish!

The time limit for the Lakeland 50 event is 24 hours, which makes it achievable by runners and walkers. Each year we have a huge range of people complete the event for a huge range of personal reasons.

At the front end are elite mountain runners who race “neck and neck” to complete the course in eight hours or fewer. At the opposite end, we have walkers who push themselves through the night to complete within the event time limit; the key to success is to “keep moving towards Coniston”.

Sean Higgins had a fantastic run on the 100, just weeks after completing the Summer Spine race. Bradd Braddock and Abbie Morgan completed their first Lakeland 50, finishing with a qualifying time for the Lakeland 100 for next year. It was a tough weekend with wet but warm weather. All three came home with their T-shirt and buckle.

Lakeland 100

Sean Higgins – 39:42:44

Lakeland 50

Abbie Morgan – 15:31:49
Bradd Braddock – 15:31:50