You know its going to be a good day, when it starts with scraping a half inch of ice from the inside of the van windscreen… The alarm buzzing at 6:30am is nothing unusual, but with the clocks change, is a little more brutal this morning. I struggle out of bed and change into my running kit… spoon in porridge and golden syrup and head to Ambleside. Today is a short recce run of the last section of the Lakeland 100/50 course, Ambleside to Coniston about 16 miles all in. It’s my first official recce of the course, and I’m not quite sure what to expect.
I arrive outside Lakes Runner to find about 60 other runners ready for the days run.
We set off at a collectively quick pace through Ambleside, trying to warm up in the frosty morning air. The town is quiet apart from our quick footsteps, but its not long before we turn uphill and slow to a quick walk, our lungs sucking in the cold air.
Our breath is taken away by the stunning views as we climb up round the side of Loughrigg Fell and views over the Fells open out in front of us. The climbing has warmed cold limbs and runners are pulling jackets off and stuffing them in to packs… It’s hot running in the sun, but still we are breathing, cold crisp air.
Soon we are back on the valley floor, running quickly up through Great Langdale, dominated by views of the Langdale Pikes. Lost in a world of dreams and wonderment at the incredible views, I’m taken by surprise to find myself at Chapel Stile the first of todays checkpoints.
As the path winds up hill we encounter patches of snow. The ground is still mostly frozen, but a miss placed foot will break through the frozen crust in to wet moss below, waking you quickly to avoid freezing the next foot the same way.
We cross Bleamoss, trying to stick to the higher ground to avoid the worst of the semi-frozen bog. A unmanned check point will be here in July, but I’m confused for a moment as the gate should be on the other side of a road… There is no road..! I turn down hill, still confused, running on snow, my feet brushing the capping stones of a dry stone wall. As I stubble down a drift side, I suddenly find the missing road, buried… will this snow still be here in July..?
We are greeted by a set of steep steps and a tough final climb up past a deep ravine. A snow slope needs crossing before a small scramble through a mini gulley needs all hands and feet.
It’s been good to run this final stage and think how I will feel after the full 50 miles in July. Will the snow still be there? Or will it be the hottest July on record? My legs won’t feel as fresh as they do finishing today, but hopefully they will still be running!
After topping up on water and eating a handful of jelly babies, I join the Delamere Spartans for what they promise is a slow run back to Ambleside along the Cumbria Way… I was fooled! It was anything but slow..! But the Tea and cakes tasted so much better sat in Bilbo’s Cafe..!
Thanks to the Lakeland 100 crew for organising a brilliant day of running, perfect weather and the challenge of the odd snow drift. Thanks also to the Delamere Spartans for the added 10 miles back to Ambleside!