After an exciting few months of work, I arranged a short excursion up to the Lakes to meet a couple of clients in Keswick and bag the first Lakeland Trails race of the season at Cartmel. Briony and James booked onto the race as well, both aiming to complete their first organised race. They would be learning the ropes from me, a seasoned veteran – having done my first race a few weeks earlier (!)
Due to staggered start times, I chose not to go for the 18km run which started later in the day and instead opted for the shorter 10km race which started in the morning. This was a blessing in disguise as come race day, we were in the midst of the second blast from the infamous Beast from the East and the temperature had plummeted to sub-zero temperatures, meaning we weren’t keen on hanging around.
I’d researched the course online and from looking at 2017’s map, I’d worked out that the route was 9.3km long which enticed me into setting an ambitious target time of sub 45 minutes for the course. It was going to be tough to do but I was feeling confident as most of my mid-week training runs are around 10km, so I felt well prepared for the distance.
Approaching the start line, I’d placed myself towards the front of the pack and on the sound of the klaxon I was caught up with the front runners and chasing down the lead. A couple of weeks earlier I’d bought myself a Garmin Forerunner 235 running watch to help up my game by keeping tabs on my stats during races and to improve my training game. I took a quick glance at my wrist to see what my pace was for the first kilometre and I was way overdoing it; time to slow the pace and step aside for the real runners.
The terrain throughout the course wasn’t too bad, at least in comparison to the Mickleden Straddle race I did in February. It had some hills and some boggy bits, but it was the wind that really made things tough. The waterproof coat I’d donned for warmth was like running with a kite in tow, especially on the exposed Lake District hilltops.
From researching the course I knew that from around 5km it was mostly downhill, so I ran as fast as I could on the downhills to make up for these slow uphill battles with the wind; at 9km it’d be time to pick up the pace for the finish line with only a few hundred metres ahead. I quickly glanced at my wrist and clocked the distance roll over to 9km, so I went for it, coming down towards the finish line as fast as I could manage.
What’s this!? The course has been extended to 10.5km, adding an additional 1.2km since last year. This extra distance was achieved by cruelly making you loop back on yourself to the finish line, much to the dismay of myself and any runners who were familiar with the route from last year.
In the end, I knew I’d pushed myself all the way around and I managed to place 22nd, so I was chuffed. The weather was brutally cold and we didn’t hang around after to soak up too much of the carnival atmosphere due to our extremities feeling as though they were about to freeze solid and fall off.