Dave Waddingtons’ account of his Lakeland 50 Ultra run:
It was 12PM we were off from Dalmain house – 4 miles around the grounds before heading down to Pooley Bgidge. Me and fellow Wigan Harrier Graham Mllington had positioned ourselves about mid way in the field of 450 competitors, I’d said just before “so what if we run 1 min p/mile slower for the first 10 miles, it’s only 10 minutes overall so what does it matter in the scale of things”. After jostling past several walkers we got into a decent pace (about 8:30 m/miles far too fast). A girl “Carla” (everyone’s name was on their back) went past breathing like she was doing a 5k, I said “she’ll not even get round breathing like that already”. We got to Pooley Bridge, which is about 5 miles in, quite a lot were walking up the long and gradual hill out of town. I pushed on went past “Carla” and quite a few others, Graham wasn’t far behind. We got to “Howtown” on the banks of Ullswater, which is the first checkpoint about 8 miles in. I was there in 1:28 and positioned 75th.
We had a quick drink and I grabbed a handful of jelly babies, off we set up the hill towards “Fusedale beck”, across the wet boggy grass we caught up with 5 or 6 other runners, with a line of about 50 others spread in front across the valley. I pushed on to keep with the group in front, working far too hard. There was nobody running, it was too steep, it still didn’t stop me and everyone else grafting like mad up this hill, Graham dropped off keeping at his own pace. As I got to the top I went past my first “100 er” (doing the 100 mile race!), he looked like crap, very pasty looking face – he still had about 40 miles to go. As each runner got to the flat they all broke into a jog, I went after them passing 2 or 3 quite easily, then after about 10 minutes I thought hang on I’m tired already, only about 12 miles in and feeling it! It was about 2 miles across the top to the start of the decent to Hawswater . I was running behind David and Katherine who had the same number showing they’d entered as a pair, I was with them for the next 5 miles to the next feed station at Mardale Head. Although they eventually pulled away and another 4 or 5 went passed me. I wandered into the feed station, I was there in 3:34 and positioned 70th.
I had a drink of coke and a gel; I couldn’t face the soup and brown bread on offer, got more jelly babies. Right get the collapsible walking poles out I thought for the long walk up Gatesgarth Pass, nobody runs up there, it’s just an uphill slog for about a mile and half – probably the toughest part of the course. After about 15 minutes in the drizzle I stopped near to the top and had a cheese butty, should give me an energy boost I thought. On the way down the other side David and Katherine came past me (the eventual winners of the mixed pairs in 10:41) effortlessly running down the rocky path which is strewn with boulders. More and more passed me on the way to the next feed station at Kentmere, I was struggling and not thinking of completing, more like debating where to drop out, Troutbeck or Ambleside. I staggered into Kentmere village hall (27 miles in) I was there in 5;23 and positioned 82.
I tried some pasta that wouldn’t go down (couldn’t face the rice pudding on offer), had a gel and an energy drink. I headed off to the very rocky Garburn pass, exchanged a few words with a 100 miler, “Chris” who didn’t look good but was only walking a bit slower than me. I walked over the top and then tried to get into a bit of a rhythm jumping between the rocks on the way down. After about 20 mins I had about 6 runners come past in quick succession, then “Carla” (who i’d said would never get round) passed. On the way through Troutbeck felt a bit better, It was only about 3 or 4 miles to Ambleside, for the first time for about 2 hours I thought I can do this. On the way into Ambleside I said to fellow 50’r Chris (he’d done the 100 last year) we’d better run into town, so we broke into a trot to the feed station past the shouting support from Jacqui, Jayne, Dave, Jeff, Anne and Graham’s family. I was there in 7:31 in 106th place. The wheels had come off but I’d get to the finish, if the 100ers could do it then I’d get home.
The feed station was a sport shop “Lakeland Runner”, Jacqui and Jayne followed me in and seemed to try and force feed me with what was on offer, I had a piece of cake, soup, bread and various drinks. I thought I’ll get with Chris for the last 4 or 5 hours, he’s got all the experience and will know the way in the dark I thought. Anyway I turned round and he’d gone on his way, so off I headed over Loughrigg towards Elterwater and Chapel Stile, I caught Chris soon and we passed quite a few 100 milers, telling them how well they were doing. We passed each other occasionally until Elterwater, then I pulled away a bit till then next feed station at Langdale. After a 5 minute sit down with soup and a cup of tea I thought right ready to go, so of I went into the dusk (at about 9:15). I got with a couple of lads who where entered as a pair, I eventually went past those, then another pair came, which I thought was good as I was soon to be in the dark so I’d follow them. Going past Blea Tarn it got dark so the head torch was on, the two lads pulled away. So I was going past the tricky bit on Blea Moss on my own in the dark, not confident of the way I stopped and waited a couple of minutes for some others to come, then tagged on with the leader who had a GPS and a really powerful head torch. Someone commented on the time (10:30PM) and that a big push would get home before 12 hours. I was knackered so the 3 lads I was with pulled away into the dark. I had the last lad in sight but it was hard work trying to keep him in view. After quite a bit of uncertainty of whether I was going the right way in the dark I spotted the lights of the final checkpoint at Tiberthwaite; what a relief. I was there in 10:48 and positioned 117th.
I had a drink of coke and a gel and grabbed some Jelly babies and nuts. A group headed off up the steep steps over the quarry, I wasn’t ready and didn’t think I’d keep with them. From previous reccies I knew it had a tricky bit so thought better follow some others to make sure I didn’t go off the wrong way and cross the beck too soon. A group came in so I sat down and waited for a few minutes before they were ready to go. I soon had my head torch following a young lady up the steps, alas she soon disappeared into the dark. I eventually got behind a couple of runners I followed for about 20 mins, then I thought hang on am I hallucinating I’m sure they are holding hands. I eventually went past them it was Ben and Cathy, obviously a couple (certainly where now). It was quite slow on the rocky wet path down, then after about 30 mins it levelled off and into the home stretch past Miners Bridge. I went through Coniston centre it was a bit strange, deadly quite. Then I turned into the street where the finish was, a big cheer went up from Jacqui, Jeff, Anne, Jayne, Dave, and Graham’s mum. I clocked in, my time was 12 hours and 2minutes, I came in 120th, it was 2 minutes past midnight. I was escorted in by a helpful marshal (what a fantastic job all the marshals do) , the marshal announces you into the school hall “50 finisher” a round of applause from the other finishers – they must save really big cheers for 100 finishers. I get escorted in like someone who is totally helpless (did I look that bad?), get my medal and T shirt and a cup of tea from another helpful marshal. What a sense of achievement, but I thought, “never again”.