Tuesday, August 12

Lakeland 100 report (in English) 25/07/2014

This time few words in English are due, I apologise in advance to the poor souls who will have to go through my itanglish pidgin.

I'll start from the end: yes, I finished it, and in a quite remarkable way, placing fourth in 23:38. But it was a long day out in the Lakes.

I expected the race to be hard, I had quite an idea of what Lakes trails had in, but no, I didn't imagine the course and terrain could serve me such a beating. But 100 miles (plus) is a long way to go.

Relaxing pre start. Note the roomy tent AKA "the recess".

Ready to go
At the start line I was relaxed, ready and meeting Matt and having time for a quick chat even improved my already happy mood. Yeah, it was sunny and hot, but hey, I'm from Genoa goddam, I'm accustomed to it!

I'm in the background talking with Matt Wilson, Simon in the center
Photo by sportsunday.co.uk  
Off we go, and a pack immediately takes off really fast. Phew. I'm not bolting out, but at the same time I try to find a decent pace in order to get things going.

With Marco Consani on left. Last time I've seen the lad. Well done Marco!

And I feel good, there's even Drew cheering me and my yellow Helios (it's the Italian flair mate :-)), Ian Corless is shooting (check out his wonderful photos here)  and since I'm following two guys, I don't have to navigate anything (which was my biggest fear pre race). On the downhill they charge, on the flats I comeback, but out of CP1, I'm on my own. Right, no panic,  roadbook out. It takes me few turn to get accustomed to it, but I get it done.

1 mile race: the next TK. Cool as fuck.
1 mile race. Younger competitor: Marc's daughter


















Feels like I'm struggling a little bit too much for being that early, it's almost like I'm not 100% in the race, but I try to hang on to two guys on the boggy part. One of the two bolts ahead in the downhill, the other, Chris saves me from my first big mistake. We go further, and we form a group of three until the second CP when I let them go because on the runnable uphill I simply cannot keep their pace. Not good. Downhill, one guy, Simon, pass me and another one too close to the lake, but in the end we all come out of Wasdale together.
The sun is coming down and I finally start to feel better, there's some climb and I can regroup, but most of all I start chatting with Simon and I stop commiserating myself. The climb to Black Sail Pass is hard, but at this point it suits me fine: headlamps on and off we go towards the YHA and on the climb again. It's really hot and we have to stop at a beck to drink water and referesh, but Simon pace is perfect and he knows how to navigate. Most of all, his company is great and we get along.

Early on, beautiful shot. Photo by sportsunday.co.uk  
Along the lake I finally start to get my running back: quick stop at the CP and back on track. This section should be the worst to navigate, but Simon is on it and we get it right without much trouble. The climb is long in the hot night but at Sail Pass I feel good and let myself loose on the descent trying to follow two lights ahead of me. Simon should be right behind me, but at a fork the two guys ahead veer towards right when I'm pretty sure we shall be going left. Mmmmh, what shall I do. I look behind and I don't see Simon. Not good. I finally catch a light at the bottom of the valley, climbing up... Shall be him, better wait. And there he comes, he also missed a previous fork, but in the end we both just lost 10 mins and are finally on our way to Braithwaite.
Photo by sportsunday.co.uk  
I feel good, at the CP there's loads of fruit (yummy, best ultrafood you can find in races, take note organizers) but most of all, when we come out I see my friend Massi who just arrived from Italy with Barbara and my girlfriend MC. I'm totally amped now, the duo with Simon is working, stomach is ok and we enter a part that I'm at least familiar with. We climb well and run even better to Blencathra, where we can see we have few followers, but it's still very early in the race to really start racing. Down to the Old Railway and then back up on BG terrain. Climbing towards Clough Head we see two headlamps on top: it has to be James Elson and crew going for the Round! Somehow I get a kick out of it and when we get to the track, it's 6k of pure running in the first lights to Dockray. Fatigue is setting in, but my running is still ok.
Right after Dockray Chris Perry, who had a detour earlier on catches up and I try to hang on a bit. I make a small mistake before Dacre but the long stretch of flat goes by. I can't wait for CP: I need to regroup, change socks, get some recovery drink and see my friends for some much needed support because I'm really tired and we're just halfway.

Dalemain

Dalemain
Maria Carla is there, she sense I'm in a low patch and tries to cheer me up. I take some time to organise the pack, take few gels, drink some water, and in the meantime Simon comes in and immediately after a young guy who looks good. I ask Simon if he's ready but he tells me to go and I slowly walk out of the CP before starting to shuffle on the good trail along the river. The climb after Pooley Bridge is runnable, but I need to walk a little bit and on the track right after the top the young guy pass me at a smoking pace. Shit, it's gonna be a long day.

Lacing up with Michael and Simon
But somehow I start running better, and I increase the pace. At the CP in Howtown I arrive while Chris and the young guy are still there. Coming out of the CP (and reading all the quotes) I start to think that I need to reach Mardale in a decent state, after that it's just coming back home (oh, how wrong). I team with Chris on the climb, but he's sleepy and needs a break. Ian Corless is shooting and I hike to the top trying to not slow too much. The scene is beautiful and I can see the long track going down with someone walking half a mile ahead. I slowly get some rythm and right before the Lake I pass a guy who is walking. Good for morale, but the incredibly long, rocky, hot trail to Mardale is getting the best of me. Once I finally reach the CP with the super cool Spartans, I sit down, drink, regroup and head out for the hard climb to Gatesgarth.

Leaving Dalemain, quads gone
Pooley Bridge, trying to loosen the legs

I see someone ahead, but the long descent it's heavy to my quads and the loose rocky bottom is killing my feet. I reach the bottom and start the footpath to Kentmere. Now I'm really tired, and it's hot: I try to stay wet at every beck or mudpool, but it's hard. I finally reach Kentmere where, to my surprise, I see the young guy still in eating some pasta. He looks very hot and I reach him in the following climb, gaining some ground on the descent where it seems he has some quad problems. Mmmh I should be in 4th place, not bad at all, but I'm so tired I'm not really dwelling on it. I start thinking that when I will get to Ambleside MC and the other friends will be there, that the following part I know quite well, that I will get a boost from getting close to the finish... But the sun is scorching and right behind me I still have Michael, the young guy, catching up. On the tarmac descent I pound as much as I can before finally seeing MC.

Leaving Amblside, with MC
Water, loads of water and off again. I feel like shit, but press on to Skelwith Bridge and in the long stretch to Chapel Stile I run as fast as I can without pausing for a second. MC at Elterwater tells me to run harder because Michael is also running but I'm spent. Nonetheless I keep going.

CP at Chapelstile, the coke is hot, the water too, but I need to sit for 10 secs and here comes Michael who has been running hard too. Oh no, I don't want to race that late in a hundo with dead legs and fried brain. The patch from Chapelstile to Side Pike Pass is the worst: I'm done and the trail is terrible, I can't find a rythm and a certain point I just think “Fuck off, if he's catching me up I don't have anything left anymore and that's it, let's just finish this beast”. But once I get to the check before Fell Foot Farm, and I see him right behind, something comes up and I try to run hard the descent and the following climb. I'm finally approaching Tilberthwaite, last CP, it's almost done, but I cannot enjoy the fruits from the table because Michael is coming. Ok, let's get it done. Hard climb and then the trail opens up: I run my best and I see ahead third place runner ready to start the final descent. I'd love to realx and get to the finish slowly, but the guy appears again behind me, and he's still running. Fast.

Nice photo by Thomas Loehndorf
It's time to gather the last drop of energy available: I start the final descent with reckless abandon, forgetting about screaming quads, and once I get to tarmac I'm so amped that I don't stop running hard. The pub, the bridge, BP gas station and finally I'm back, John Ruskin School is now in sight! Maria Carla joins me and finally the finish line: 23:38:00 one hundred miles in one day.
One of my favourite photo ever: exhaustion and happiness at the end of a hundo. By MC
I'm done. Really done, like I've never been before. But this is a finish I'm really proud of, I've been running on the edge for almost 20 hours and this time I was really aware that DNF could have been right behind the corner. I sit down and then finally lay on the grass: I cannot stop smiling and laughing. It's the best feeling in the world and I'm savouring each second. Michael arrives (the guy's 25 and it was his first 100... look for him in the next few years). Then comes Chris, who came back from the low patch. I shower, eat and wait for Simon to finish, then straight to bed because I need some sleep.

Yeah, sleepy.
Sunday morning I crawl out of the tent and finally my stomach opens up: it's time for a breakfast butty, some tea and a lot of cheering for the finishers coming in. I'm really happy to see my tent neighbour (Andrew?) cross the line with ten minutes to spare and the worst blisters I've ever seen, and off to the presentation with Drew, Claire and the Centurion crew. Great stuff and several funny stories... And yes, I'm pissed off I came one position short of getting a brand new Petzl Nao, but such is life and congrats to Marco, Charlie and Lee, they were in a different class.

It's time to leave, but not before savouring the first legit pint of real ale at the Ship Inn, not far from the school (actually really far in the wobbling state I was). Was it Coniston Bluebird Bitter? Or a Jennings? Anyhow, great stuff: out in the sun, with my crew/training partner/nurse/lover Maria Carla, a new 100 mile finish under the belt, and plenty of memories to carry over. Summer is magic and next pint is behind the corner...

Recovering in the Highlands
I've met so many nice guys/gals in the four days spent in Coniston that I feel sorry for all the people I will forget to put here, but nonetheless: first of all, the biggest thank you goes out to all the marshalls and volunteers. They have been terrific, in making this possible and in supporting us poor souls. You make this event special. To Riccardo, and Montane, for the support. To my sponsors: Ale e Luca from La Sportiva, Andrea from Powerbar and most of all to Luigi and Zero Running Company! To Ian Corless (and Niandi) for the chat and photos (yes, there are Italian listeners to Talkultra). To the Centurion guys (James, Paul, Drew and Claire), it was great to catch up with you, and for James: the third is a charm. To all the neighbours in the campsite for chat and laughs. The turkish guys from Iznik: well done friends! To Michael Jones and Chris Perry: young lads with a bright future ahead. Most of all to Simon Bourne, it was an absolute pleasure to share many miles and few stories: one of the most humble lads I've had the pleasure to run with, but what a runner... I'll be back for BG one day!
To Massi and Barbara, you can't imagine what does it means to see friendly faces accross the course: I'm happy you fell in love with Lake District too.
Last, but not least the girl who not only puts up with me and my running addiction, but encourages me to run harder and makes me give 110% each time. You rock, and that's it.

With my crew at the finish line. Photo by Thomas Loehndorf

Material:

After many doubts I decided to go for my La Sportiva Helios, and they were great. There's been few times in the second part when I would have loved some more protection under the sole, maybe a rockplate, but the comfort of the top is just perfect. And in a long race, it means a lot. The Bushido would have been perfect for the sole, but probably a little bit tight in the heel.

I had my Zero Running short sleeves top 'til Dalemain, where I changed it for the vest: they were both great in the hot and humid weather, definitely a great test for the new collection that will come out next spring. No chafing, quick drying and stylish: need more?

My battered La Sportiva, thanks for keeping my feet (almost) healthy
I used Injinji socks in the first half, and they were good, but when I slipped the Drymax on, jeez they were the dope and saved my battered feet until the finish line. I still think a healthy dose of Mustela paste it helps, specially when you expect to have wet feet for hours.

I used a The North Face vest I was given to test which I've only worn once in a 20 miles run (yes, really clever): it ended up being almost perfect, right size and comfortable enough. I used the soft flask for carrying a liter of water with me that wasn't enough in itself, but thanks to many becks I never really struggled with hydration.

I had the incredible Montane Minimus Smock and Trousers as waterproof: both outstanding items. I had time to appreciate them in Scotland the week after the race, good good stuff.

Food: usual diet of Powerbar gels, apart from two hours before Daleman when I switched to Powerblast shots. I had a Powerbar Recovery drink at Dalemain which helped to give some peep back to my legs. From CP I drank few gallons of water, some Coke (but deflated... no way, I like my coke with plenty of gas!) and fruit whenever was available: strawberries, apricots, mandarines, watermelon. It's the good stuff for me.
After the race I should have been drinking my recovery... but the canteen at the John Ruskin School was too good and I stuffed myself of jacket potatoes and sheperd pie. You are the best guys, power to the Fairy Lillies.
The pinnacle of my recovery strategy was sunday dinner with MC, Massi and Barbara at the Britannia Pub in Elterwater, steak and ale with several pints of bitter: we even scored well in the quiz night, if it wasn't for all the TV starlettes we Italians never heard of we might have ended on podium.
It's one of the best pubs in the Lake District, don't miss it if you're in the area.


What? You've never been to the Lakes? You're probably living in the other hemisphere or in a different continent then: if you're into mountains, running and the culture related to both, it's a no brainer, you have to experience the place. See you soon...

2 comments:

  1. Congratulations on running a fabulous race. What a great result! I really enjoyed your blog and can see that you totally got the culture and beauty of the Lakes. Congratulations again!

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  2. Great write up and fabulousness result. From your other neighbour, Steve, who just did the 50!

    ReplyDelete