Yesterday I did the Langdale fell race in Cumbria and for the first time in a long time I felt I actually got a race right.
Since getting back from the Alps I’ve been trying hard to get back into racing shape and I’d set Langdale as a short term goal to measure my progress.
I’ve done this race a number of times so know the course reasonably well and I like the route and the challenges it presents.
We had a good squad of Bingley Harriers on the start line which always makes for an entertaining race as it meant I had friends to do psychological and physical battle with.
The race starts with a big climb from the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub up to Stickle tarn and then up and over Thunacar Knott – I reckon that if you feel OK at Thunacar you’re in for a good race and as I thanked the marshals my body check returned a positive signal….
I caught my friend and current British and English ladies fell champion Vic Wilkinson at Esk Hause and when I passed her going up hill I knew she was tired – I would never normally be able to out climb Vic.
As I traversed around to Bow Fell along a rough section that most people hate but I actually enjoy I caught another Bingley Harrier and 2013 Yorkshireman Marathon winner Ged Callan who was obviously struggling – again, when Ged’s on form I can’t get anywhere near him but today was my day and I felt strong as I trotted away from him and up to the summit of Bowfell.
A good line across to Crinkle Crags let me catch up with a group of 4 runners which included the leading lady Jasmin Paris who has been winning all the long races in Britain this year. As we hit the summit of Crinkle, the leader of our little gang skirted to the right and took us around the summit to avoid the legendary ‘Bad Step’. When I’ve done this race previously I’ve always back climbed down the step but the longer but smoother line is one I’ll remember for next time as I think it was definitely quicker if not quite as exciting .
I ran hard off Crinkle down to Pike O Blisco and managed to catch another Bingley runner Tom Gomersal on the way. We both took a drink from our team mate Aly Raw who was forced to spectate instead of race due to a bad case of plantar fasciitis and as we climbed the final summit Tom pulled ahead of me again.
As we turned at the summit I was with a Dark Peak and a Horwich runner and I decided to let the Dark Peak runner lead us off the mountain. Although you can almost see the finish from here Blisco can be very reluctant to give up its best line. The Dark Peak athlete did well and our line was quicker than Tom’s who we managed to pass around half way down – I knew this made me second Bingley Harrier behind Andy Jebb which was a place I wasn’t going to give up easily. One slight mistake on the descent was quickly corrected and we were soon flying down the final track towards the finish. Here my Dark Peak navigator took a mighty tumble onto a rocky path but quickly got to his feet and carried on. The 3 of us blasted through the campsite and on to the road where a 200 meter flat sprint sorts the men from the boys. I was happy to let the other two ‘men’ do battle and take my place as the ‘boy’ as I knew I had no chance of staying with them and more importantly Tom was not going to catch me.
I crossed the line in 2 hours and 25 minutes (34th from 400 starters) which is a PB by almost 6 minutes – very chuffed.
I’m now trying to understand what I did that worked well and here are my thoughts :-
- trained every day right up to the race although last couple of days were very easy
- had muesli and honey + marmite on toast for breakfast – around 4 hours before race
- had small bag of cashews before the start
- took two gels (one on climb from angle tarn and one on climb up crinkle)
- used Inov8 330 shoes
Now to work on a bit of leg speed as I’m doing the Bradford 10k in two weeks where I’m going to try and get a sub 40 time – I’ve not run a road race in years so it’ll be interesting to see how I get on.