Tag Archives: Lake District

The Lakeland 50, a race report

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0270Sweat is pouring from me. The air is thick and sticky… My shirt clings to my skin, soaked, unable to absorb any more moisture… I try to shut my mind to the heat, that is slowly cooking me as I struggle to maintain my pace climbing out of Fusedale Valley. It’s like running in to the center of the earth, the further I go, the hotter it seems to get… I long to be on the fell tops, where it must be cooler… It can’t be hotter than here..!

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4452 Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4459Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4460It had all been going so well, a short four mile loop around Dalemain had seen us spread out nicely and the pace had seemed easy, even it the heat… I settled in to a steady rhythm, and before a moment had passed, I was through the first checkpoint at Howtown, a fist full of fig rolls in my hand as I headed towards hell…

Behind and as well as in front, hundreds of runners are strung out over the mountainside, all of us are heading towards Coniston, 40 miles away. We won’t all make it… We struggle on this climb, the first major one of the day, and it’s slowly picking us off…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0278Finally I stop climbing, the ground easies out, and I can breath again… I pick up speed and allow my legs to carry me forward… Haweswater eventually appears from behind High Kop, shimmering in the heat as I start to descend. The air thickens once again, sweat runs free from my brow… We run and then walk, before running again along the lake side… I flew this section when I reccied the course a few months back, today I struggle to maintain any pace, in the heat… I fill my bottle from streams, and drink hungrily, but the water isn’t satisfying, its warm, like that from a tap that just won’t run cold…  I try to eat a gel, forcing  it down, but it won’t go and I wash the stickiness from my fingers…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0260I’ve been running less than 4 hours and the wheels have fallen well and truly off… I’m melting slowly in the sun. I can’t seem to eat, and yet I know I must… I haul myself up from the ground where I’ve been sitting and drink TORQ Energy from my platy-pus, it’s sweet and warm in this heat, but it seems to do the trick, providing me with the kick I need…

Finally, the checkpoint at Mardale Head appears, I drink flat coke, hot soup and scoff cheese and pickle sarnies. It’s an oasis in the desert, I fill my face with “free” food, before shouting my thanks as I head towards Gatesgarth Pass. It’s steep and hot again, I know for many Gatesgarth is a demon waiting in hell, but for me, it’s been a target for most of the morning. I know when I’m at the top, the hard part is behind me. I’ve been looking forward to the climb.  I relish the steepness, knowing its the fastest way to the top. I bump into a friend and we chat about races and adventures past and planned as we fly up the hill, over taking as we go…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4462Reaching the top, I slow for a few moments to take in the view, looking down Longsleddale, before dropping like a stone down the rough concrete path which leads us to Sadgill and the next climb… It passes in a distant haze, as I fly above my body, like a helium ballon, looking down as the slow torture takes place…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4463I wake up collapsed on the road outside the Kentmere Checkpoint. A Strawberry and Blueberrie smoothy is in my hand and it tastes amazing… It’s finished at record speed and I instantly want another, but daren’t risk too much fruit… As it previous Checkpoints, my water bottle is filled without asking, five star service befitting the best restaurants… But I’m not hanging around to enjoy it too long… my watch beeps and It’s time to start running again… Only another 23 miles now, almost there…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4464 Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4465The rain starts just as I approach Ambleside, I love running in the rain, and it increases the spring in my step, but I have to fight to keep it there. As I run through the streets, people stop and cheer, clapping and raising glasses in the beer gardens… I want to stop and absorb it all, but it pushes me forward, lifts my spirt as I search down the Checkpoint, a mug of hot soup awaits…

Time is flying now, the light is fading with the dark clouds as I run along Langdale. I stop only briefly at Chapel Stile, more soup to warm my gut and to stoke the fire. I resist the chimineas outside the gazebo and I run on, in to the evening glom. I find it very comforting and resist switching on my head torch straightaway. But as I climb up towards Blea Tarn, dusk finally turns to dark and the drizzle returns but I know the way…

The suffering of so long ago, is quickly forgotten as the rain washes away the pain. I eat a Rhubarb and Custard gel and remember the hard boiled sweets I used to love as child… they maybe explain the fillings in my mouth… The next checkpoint at Tilberthwaite is not far now, but it never seems to arrive… And then there in the distance I spy fairy lights… I arrive to find Christmas well underway. Presents under the tent consist of more flat coke, sweets and cookies… There’s a chair, but as the rain fills the roof with water it cascades down my back, forcing me back on my feet… We sing happy birthday for a runners who birthday it probably isn’t, then we sing it again for a runner, who’s birthday it is… I leave as We wish you a merry Christmas  fills the air…

Bazar… I’m in the Lake District, it’s July, it’s pouring with rain, it’s dark… We are sing Christmas Songs…

I set off up the steepest of steep steps, and the take the lower path, down to Crook Beck… but it’s dark, and you can’t see much, and its the wrong way… I turn back and find the right path. I see frogs in the beam of my torch, it’s good weather for frogs…

2 miles to go…

I fall in with a L100 runner for a few minutes as we pick our way over the fell top. The path is faint, and our lights are the only ones in the dark… As we round a corner, I see path dropping off all the way to Coniston, to the warmth, to the dry…

I hit the boost button on my SEO5 Head torch and focus the beam. The rest is muscle memory as I take my brain and put it in my pocket. Its wet, its dark, its downhill, its a roller coaster ride…

I’m grinning from ear to ear, as I fly, passing other runners in the dark, bouncing from rock to rock, feet only glancing. I’ve been dreaming about the for months… Ahead I see Rob and Amanda, who I’ve run with at various points of the day… We chat briefly, but now my legs are no longer mine… and they head towards Coniston…

The streets are quiet at this early hour, until I pass the Black Bull, and the clapping comes from nowhere, I stare into the dark and see two figures, I pass the garage, and there are people there, sheltering from the rain, cheering… I’m chocked…

The final left turn, the final downhill… There’s the gate, more people… The finish arch, the medal… the lights, the t-shirt, it’s all over… Really it’s only just begun…

50 miles: 12 Hours 53 Minutes…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0307Powered by TORQ, Carried by Mammut, Light by LEDLenser, Inspired by Life…

You aren’t sat in traffic, you ARE traffic

I’ve spent the past two days wading through ankle deep mud and getting soaked by the British “summer” whilst working on a photography commission in Staffordshire. And now it’s baking hot, the sun is shining and I’ve spent most of the day sat on the M6 Northbound going nowhere fast…

To quote Simon at Freestak, “You aren’t sat in traffic; you ARE traffic”

Reuben_Tabner_Blisco_3582Finally however I made it to Ambleside and soon after I was blowing my way up the steep sides of Redacre Gill, my heart pounding, threatening to break a rib from the inside as I pushed towards my goal and cleared the traffic from my system.

Reuben_Tabner_Blisco_3584I stopped only briefly to take in the stunning vista of Langdale below me. The sinking evening sun still bathed the hillside with its warm glow as I climbed higher, reaching the summit of Pike of Blisco gasping for breath.

Reuben_Tabner_Blisco_3619I don’t want to head down, I want to stay here and watch the final sun-dance of the day, but a cool breeze blows the heat from my skin and I’m hungry.

Reuben_Tabner_Blisco_3635I race across the plateau to Blake Rigg, from where I can see the van, waiting patiently below. I make my way off trail, down towards Blea Tarn. I’m watching the landscape more than my path, and soon find my way blocked by a steep crag face. I’m forced to down climb, before the path finally opens up and follows the lakeside all the way back to the van and that food…

Friday Stoke: MONTANE® Lakeland 100

I have two main aims for summer 2013. To compete in the Lakeland 50 at the end of July and then the UTMB-TDS at the end of August. The first is part of the Lakeland 100, which is sponsored by Montane. They have made a short video to explain what its all about… See you there..?

Lakeland 50 Recce – Ambleside to Coniston

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.

Reuben_Tabner_39

I arrive outside Lakes Runner to find about 60 other runners ready for the days run.

Reuben_Tabner_2985

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.

Reuben_Tabner_2990

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.

Reuben_Tabner_2991

Reuben_Tabner_2994

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.

Reuben_Tabner_2996On race day, we are told there will be a large marquee here, but today its a car and a table of juice. I grab some flapjack and continue moving, still lost in mountain dreams.

Reuben_Tabner_3000

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.

Reuben_Tabner_3003I’m still lost in the views, no longer even aware that I’m running, climbing or descending…

Reuben_Tabner_3009

Reuben_Tabner_3010

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..?

Reuben_Tabner_3015We continue on down the road, through Tilberthwaite Farm and to the second checkpoint. I grab some water, a chunk of ginger bread and keep going.

Reuben_Tabner_3016

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.

Reuben_Tabner_3017

Reuben_Tabner_3018

Finally the climbing is behind us, and its a long steep decent down in to Coniston and a short jog to the final check point and what will be the Lakeland 50 and 100 finish.Reuben_Tabner_3026

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..!

Reuben_Tabner_3028

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!

Grizedale Off Road Duathlon

Reuben_Tabner_5681

Following the spectacular Kielder Duathlon back in December I was addicted. So Saturday saw us dodging rain storms between tea shops in the Lake District, in preparation for another Run-Bike-Run outing. Sunday dawned bright and clear, if a little chilly as I crawled from my bed amongst the trees of Grizedale Forest. You couldn’t wish for a more stunning setting.

***

Reuben_Tabner_5570

It’s cold as we line up for the 10am start. We are warned of strong winds on the exposed tops. The klaxon sounds and we are under way, jostling for postions as we slowly spread out, through the gate and over a river. But the adrenaline of the start soon wears thin as we slog up a long fire road, climbing steadily in to the trees. Thankfully we eventually turn off onto more technically challenging ground, although this soon has the lungs screaming for air as we continue to climb in the sharp wintery air. After an age, the trees thin, and as I lift my eyes from the trail my breath is taken away by the spectacular view of frozen snow capped fells. I want to stop and take it all in, look around and absorb the beauty, but I don’t have time, I’m in a race against time. I turn and race back down hill, racing for the transition time to get out on the bike.

Reuben_Tabner_5577

***

“Where are we?” I ask another rider, as we slog up this seemingly never ending fire road. “Coming up to 10k”  is the short reply. I check my GPS, bugger, it’s right. It can’t be, we’ve been peddling for ages, it feels closer to 20k, how can we only have done 10k. Flash backs, nightmares of the Strathpuffer, of a never ending course, come flooding back. My legs feel like wood, like the trees we are cycling through. It is never ending. I battle my brain, looking for the rule book, it’s there somewhere. Rule Number 5 = Harden The F*%k Up! I come back to the present, I’m still however peddling. I drop a couple of gears and tuck in as I try to make the most of this easier surface. The bike feels numb between my legs. The climbs have been hard, rocky singletrack switchbacks, with few places to pass slower riders.  No let up. Then we are out, in to the wind on fire roads, which go on, not quite forever, just to the next rocky climb.

Reuben_Tabner_5605

We round a corner, and are greeted by spectacular views over Coniston Water and fells capped in snow. It’s moral lifting. Then it starts to snow. Then I start to recognise some of the course. I’ve ridden here before. Ridden The North Face trail we are now racing around. I hit a section of board-walk as a smile starts to find it’s place again. We drop down on to another fire road, but now I’m rolling, as I check my watch, finally it’s 20k. I pass last nights campsite, not long to go now. I eat a gel, ready for the the run. My legs still feel heavy, but at least I’m zipping along, as the course dives off to the left, down a singletrack decent. I know this route. Weaving in and out of the trees, avoiding gullies, there’s the odd little jump here and there. Another boardwalk and then open fields. Spectators lining the trailside, shouting and howling, through the double gate, peddling for home.

Reuben_Tabner_5607

DISMOUNT! Argh! I only just see the sign in time, slamming on the brakes.  I jump off the bike and pull open the final gate, run down the rocky steps and dib in through transition.

Reuben_Tabner_5612

Fresh shoes on I’m back out again less than 80 seconds later, munching flapjack. Run two is a repeat of the first run. Back up the same long fire road, but it’s quieter now and feels different, I exchange a few words with a runner from Hudersfield, it’s his first duathlon, he doesn’t like running and prefers road biking. It seems today my legs don’t like running up hills and they aren’t that sure about peddling up them either. I push on and finally turn off in to the woods and work my way back to the top of Carron Crag. The views are once again worth it, if only I had the time to stop and wonder, but now warm legs are carrying me back down hill, skipping over the rocks and through the freezing puddles. I hear the screech of disc breaks behind me, and the rattle of a bike tackling the rocky path. I let them past, but soon, I’m calling that I’m passing them. On this terrain two legs are quicker than the two wheels. I fly downhill.

Reuben_Tabner_5638

The final stretch looms, friends are screaming. I dig down for a last sprint of sorts, round the final corner and its all over. 3:05:04 on the clock and 63rd overall.

A much tougher course than Kielder, or maybe I’m not as fit? With being ill and away in France I’ve not had much chance to get extra miles in on the bike since the beating of the Strathpuffer at the end of January and I paid for that on the bike section. My legs felt heavy most of the way round and I felt I struggled to do the 24km in the 1 hour 42 mins in took me. This knocked on to my second run which ended up being 7mins slower than the first. My transition times let me down last time, a little bit of thought and pre planning this time, meant these were much improved, and actually helped pull me up the placings. 30th in my category, down from 18th in December, the long and short of it, I need to train more!

The Grizedale Off Road Duathlon was another event run by High Terrain Events based in the Lake District and specialists in organising unique and exciting events, that incorporate challenging combinations of activity, amidst stunning scenery. If I can beg, borrow or steal a road bike in time, I will be back to do the final event of the series in April just outside Keswick.

Reuben_Tabner_5688

KMF adidas TERREX Trail Run

My number, signed by Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

I disobeyed doctors orders and finally returned to running at the weekend, in the form of the Kendal Mountain Festival adidas TERREX Trail Run. This short race around Kendal in the Lakes was started by the legendary  Olympic heroes, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and took in local landmarks, spectacular scenery, a gut busting hill and a slippery, shoe eating muddy decent to put a smile on everyone’s face.

Back on the trail

A chilly morning, cleared for a sunny start and the day proved far warmer than the early morning frost suggested. With blue sky’s, opening up incredible views across the Lake District…

Shooting on the run

Returning from injury sustained during the Dusk til’ Dawn Ultra, I was given the all clear by the physio but told I had to take it easy, so treated the event as a fun run. My girlfriend elected to run as well,  so I ran with her. Not worrying about a time, or finish place meant I could enjoy being out in the sun and slippery, slidey, gloopy mud. That is until the last 150 meters when someone decided they were going for an all out sprint finish… catching me almost of guard…

Running along the cannel

Muddy paths were everywhere

Uphill struggle

I love hills, although some don’t

A short, sharp hill climb towards the end of the race, was met with groans by some, but an opportunity to stretch the lungs by many… All were awarded with views at the summit, followed by a nice long downhill back in to Kendal…

Billed as a 5 mile Trail Run, essential alterations at the last minute added on an extra half mile, making it even better value for money…

The reward for running up hills

The race was organised by Cumbria based Open Adventure, provides of some of the best Adventure Sports events in the UK, it’s well worth checking out their website for future events… but please leave spaces for me…

Running up Skiddaw

One of my favorite mountains, is Skiddaw in the Lake District. At 931 m (3,054 ft) above Sea level Skiddaw, is the forth highest mountain in England and dominates the skyline of the Northern Lakes. For those attempting the infamous Bob Graham Round, it is also the first summit when doing the clockwise circuit.

Skiddaw, the King of Mountains...

Skiddaw, the King of Mountains…

Despite a rather grim weather forecast, we drove to the Lakes for the weekend with a run up Skiddaw planned for Saturday. One of the reasons I like running on Skiddaw so much is the variety it offers, you can make it as hard or easy as you want, depending where you start from. With a first time fell runner in tow, we parked at Latrigg to cut down on some of the ascent.

Running in to the clouds…

Running in to the clouds…

Leaving the van behind, we were greeted by a thick wall of drizzle, which obscured everything that wasn’t directly underfoot, as the path steepens well before the legs are even warm, on this occasion this wasn’t such a bad thing as it meant I could hide the reality of what was to come…

Great visibility…

Great visibility…

The path snakes steeply up hill, causing the heart to pound and legs to burn all the way to the false summit of Skiddaw Little Man at 865m. From here its a fairly easy run, if you don’t have a strong headwind like we did, across the top to Skiddaw summit, where a sheepfold provides shelter for a lump of chocolate and handful of sweets.

The view from the summit…

The view from the summit…

Just as we left the summit the cloud lifted for those magical few seconds, providing breathtaking views in all directions, with Blencathra on one side and Bassenthwaite Lake on the other. But the cloud and drizzle returned for the decent from the summit. Its a nice steep and fast decent, down towards Bakestall (673m) and then dropping off the east side on to the Cumbria Way for an easy but pleasent run up past Skiddaw House and Lonscale Crags.

A nice rapid descent…

A nice rapid descent…

And there’s a view…

And there’s a view…

True to form as we ran back towards the van the sun came out, we were greeted by blue skies and more stunning views over Derwent Water and Grisedale Pike. Tired legs were rested and more runs planned as we soaked up the sun sat on the side of Latrigg, I’m fairly sure we have a new fell runner convert, despite, rain, wind and steep ascents… Job done!

Reuben_Tabner_7

10 miles later, almost rest time… but who would run up that hill..?

The evening sunset...

The evening sunset…