Race conditions were pretty perfect. It was cold and drizzly for most of the race. These conditions are so much better for me than hot and sunny conditions (though I think I am getting better at those). I had to put on my rain jacket a couple of times, but I generally adopted my mate Tom's mantra: if you're getting cold, then run faster.
I ran with Martin Indge until Haweswater and then was pretty much running on my own. I caught third placed Marcus Scotney at Ambleside and stayed ahead of him until Langdale. The physios at Ambleside must have done a good job on his legs as after Langdale, he just shot of (doing 5 minute miles on the final downhill into Coniston!). I kept looking over my shoulder (which I always say to myself I shouldn't do) to see if Mark Hartell was about to catch me up: he usually does. It was different this time and I finished ahead of him for the first time in a UK ultra race. I was pleased with this. I must race Mark more often when he has a chest infection!
The one thing I was pretty annoyed about was going the wrong way in the valley out of Howtown. I knew deep inside that I shouldn't be running up to the farm in the valley, but I did this anyway. When I got to the farm, there were people having a picnic and laze about by the farm. We said "hi" to each other and then they told me that I shouldn't be there and should not have crossed the cattle grid (500m back - and downhill to boot!). This was all fair enough, so I had to retrace my steps. This cost me a good 4 minutes and got me out of contention with the lead pack, almost getting caught by the runners behind. I also had a minute of head scratching with map in hand on the way between Kentmere and Ambleside. I was at a Y-fork in the path and couldn't decide which way to go in the clag. I eventually chose the right way, but it cost me a little time.
The Lakes 100 runners did well this year. I was passing a steady stream of them all the way to the finish, showing that the standard and number of completions has increased from last year. It has to be said that I was wondering whether I should have been on the 100 mile race instead (it probably wasn't right for me this year).
There was a good atmosphere throughout the race. The checkpoint marshalls were all very supportive and all the walkers who were out and about were cheering us on. Even the lads downing pints in Ambleside seemed to have an interest in the race. It felt great running into the event centre in Coniston at the end. I got a big cheer and it made me feel really special. The physios did an excellent job throughout the race. It was great to have a massage after the race. It has to be said though that I would have been quite happy to lay down anywhere.
The whole Lakeland 100 / Lakeland 50 event seems to be gaining momentum. There were more runners in the race than last year, the standard seems to have improved and the whole aura of the event seems to be building. I wonder how long it will be before these races reach an equivalent stature to that of the UTMB races. I'm planning on getting my entry in earlier next year: just in case.