Graham and I have a long history of running Lakeland Trails races. Between us we have raced most of the events from 10k to Ultra across the variety of beautiful venues and demanding terrain writes Mike Harris.
We had both decided to tick off another that we hadn’t tried before, the Coniston Half Marathon. We both did the full two years ago and completely exhausted ourselves and were perhaps hoping this wouldn’t be quite so traumatising! Graham was building towards doing Ultimate Trails 55k in July whereas I was working back into racing longer distances after Manchester Marathon in April.
The course follows the first nine miles of the 26 mile route, possibly the most attractive part. I was intrigued to see what the route back to Coniston would be like, as that part was completely new to me.
A sunny weather forecast turned out to be slightly wide of the mark, what we got instead was probably near perfect running conditions considering it was June. The Half was starting at a very sociable 11.00am, just as well as Graham was late leaving his holiday home. This meant his warm up consisted of running back from the toilets!
The first few miles is undulating following good paths and apart from a steep climb up from Coniston it’s fairly steady. I was surprised to find that I had turned up with legs that seemed to be like they would have preferred to be still in bed. That’s one good thing about a half marathon – plenty of time for them to wake up!
The course then turn a sharp left turn joining a minor road climbing up a valley. The sides of the valley acted as a funnel concentrating the wind into a strong stamina sapping headwind. I pushed on hard here as it would have been too easy to coast a little. After what seemed like forever we turned off the road and followed what I considered to be the best part of the course for either full or half. It’s tricky and hard to run fast on but it makes you think about what you are doing, you feel alive, running in a quiet beautiful part of lakeland.
Another section of country roads then brings you to Tarn Hows. As we were the last race entrants the tarn was very busy with a mix of walkers and runners on their various laps. It should be a section where you could blast it but the old pins were rocking a little.
As we climbed to leave the tarn we were captured on record by the photographer James Kirby who did his usual brilliant job of capturing everyone slogging up the hill. An excellent memento of a great day.
Graham did a better job of making it appear like he was enjoying the race!
From Tarn Hows it was downhill all the way on a fantastic path through woodland to Coniston. The organisers had done an excellent job with the routing as this was a great path back to the finish. The glimpses of the village were tantalising evidence that the finish was close. By now I was passing a steady stream of runners from the Challenge Race who started an hour earlier. I was also passed by another runner Gareth from Derbyshire. We had exchanged places a couple of times and it was a reminder that I wasn’t finishing as fast as I would have liked as Gareth swept past me with a mile to go.
You run past race HQ on the way to the finish so just time to brush your hair, straighten your vest before the grandstand finish in front of the family!
A dash along the edges of the lake brought me home in 1.34, 20th and 2nd V40 and an immediate launch into the family buffet whilst maintaining a watchful eye for Graham.
Graham didn’t keep us waiting and finished in an excellent 1.49 in 90th place. The clouds decided to flee the sky as we left Coniston resulting in a sunny drive home! A fantastic venue and an excellent race.