I decided to re-write my race report for the Langdale Mountain Marathon for the club website. I wrote my first report when I was feeling very tired. I hope this gives a better essence of the race. One thing is sure; With time to reflect I feel really proud of taking part and finishing this race. Sometimes its NOT always about the finishing time or placing, it's about finding out about yourself and how you deal with situations!
Great Langdale Mountain marathon and ½ Marathon
They call Langdale the gateway to heaven, as I would find out latter this was more my gateway to ‘heaven and hell!’
Paul Cain was doing the half and me the full distance after getting a taster with the 1 lap ½ last year.
Rob [2nd] in the marathon last year] Sarah and Eddie were our support crew, cheering us on and taking some breathtaking photos.
The weather was ideal, sunny with a cooling breeze as we lined up for the start.
Both the ½ and marathon start together, so it was hard to know how many were doing the full distance and who would turn off after ‘just’ one lap and finish the 13.1 mile race.
I got talking to a guy called Steven Prentice, he use to live in Southport before moving to Glasgow. He said he would run with me as we were looking at about the same pace.
Away from the start we headed along the only flat section of road on the course for a mile, soon we turned left and started the fearsome 1 in 3 climb that zigzags its way straight up the mountain.
Near the top Rob, Sarah and Eddie cheered us on, not far behind Paul leaning forward with his nose almost grazing the road surface tackled what most have been his toughest challenge of his short running career so far!
Rob had told me “never get out of breath on the first lap and you’re be ok”, I tried to follow his instructions and at last made it to the top. The reward was spectacular views of the green valley below and the bare rocks of the mountain ridges that reached high into the cloud and glistened in the bright afternoon sunshine, this was ‘gods country’!
Now, a steep suicide descent that pounded the legs followed by short steep hills and more crazy downhills. The legs and body would be tested in every way, even a car would find this a challenge.
I was now running with Steve and two girl’s running the ½, I was spot on target pace [ I was trying to equal Rob’s time of last year, 3.11] but my legs felt empty and not strong and full of energy as I’d hoped!
On to the next climb at 6 miles I took my first gel, over the top and more downhill pounding, at 10 miles we tackle a 1 in 4 monster climb, very steep at first before a series of more gradual rises and hairpin corners. Steve pulls away; I reach the top and then make my way down yet another descent.
Now follow a couple of quite undulating Lake district roads [I think they class this as flat in this part of the world!].
I pass quite a few ½ marathon runners who must have set off too fast. Another gel and I reach the end of the first lap in 1.35, just on target but my legs still feel empty like a car about to run out of gas, leaving me with a feeling of impending ‘DOOM’ as I take on the 2nd and final lap.
Paul grits his teeth and gives his all over the last miles, finishing in 1.39. A great first performance at the world’s toughest ‘road’ half marathon.
I ask him after, “would he ever do the full Marathon”, he just looked back at me with blank staring eyes!!!
Steve had stopped for a drink and waited for me to catch up, I said he should have kept going; I’m not on a good day.
Once again we reach the first climb again; thankfully there is a good tailwind which pushes me along.
I pass two runners half way up this murderous 1 in 3 climb.
I reach the top with great relief, I smile as I take in the surrounding views; AWESOME!
Steve pulls away on the next downhill, I don’t see him again until I cross the finish line. He finishes 7 mins faster than last year and a new P.B. for the course with 3.15
Footsteps behind my get louder and a guy from Harrogate catches me up, we run together up to 20 miles.
20 miles, THE WALL
We cross the main road and turn left, the 1 in 4 climb feels much, much worse this time , the last of my energy drains away and I have to walk.
Once over the steepest section I force myself into a shuffle and just think to myself ‘keep moving’.
I run to the next tree, the next corner, I’m in survival mode now, each second seems like a minute, each mile like two.
I bang down more gel blocks and at long bloody last emerge through the trees and the top of the mountain.
The legs take a hammering again as gravity pulls my down, a guy comes flying past, all I can do is watch.
I’m at the point of not caring about any body else, this is my own private battle just to finish.
On to the final two miles of undulating road, someone’s playing a cruel, cruel joke. The road seems to by far more uphill than last time and the road seems to go on for ever, I’m trapped in time, neither moving forwards or backwards, an endless uphill convyor belt of hell!
The ½ marathon finishes returning home in there cars beep there horns and shout encouragement as they pass by, I pull myself around cracking a smile as I crest the last hill and flow down a beautiful sweeping descent, I get faster and faster as I pass the car park and the crowd looking on.
I savour every last moment, I’m about to finish the ‘world’s toughest road marathon’!!!
I cross the line in 13th place in 3.19.
One thing for sure, I will never ever forget this race it’s been ‘HEAVEN AND HELL’