My Lakeland Trails Marathon

By Amy Bradley

Every marathon runner has their pre-race routine. It can last days, weeks or even months. We’re all a little different; some like to focus on weather, whilst others focus on nutrition, clothing or what shape their competition is in.

2020 somewhat changed my usual preparation and I have spent the last couple of weeks checking whether we, or indeed Cumbria were about to be plunged into the world of local restrictions. Would the race even be on? If the race were to go ahead, it would involve a lot more consideration than normal when it comes to hydration and fuelling. At one point my pack was loaded up with Capri Sun (underrated sports drink) and Go Ahead bars but I saw sense in the end and just grabbed a couple of bottles of water and a pair of energy gels.

I got to Saturday and everything was good to go. I had been checking the weather forecast in between the latest Covid numbers and there was due to be a lull in the typical Lakeland weather for the Sunday, following Storm Alex. Nevertheless, my Gore-Tex jacket was packed and off I went.

If you’re lucky enough to find a real event this year, you will notice the huge effort the race organisers are having to put in to ensure safety and minimise disruption and the Lakeland Trails team were a lesson in flawless organisation.

We were given a start time, mine 9.17am and had a large area in which to meet 5 minutes before.

It’s not my first time at Coniston so I knew what to expect in terms of elevation and pace. It’s not (for me) a race for PB chasing. The views are utterly breath-taking and to speed past the stunning panoramas and not just pause for a moment to take it in would be a crime. The race is usually in the summer but the turning leaves of autumn and the heavy sun shimmering across the lake made for a memorable day.

The race weaves uphill for around 15 miles, past Oxen Fell, Hawkshead Hill and around Tarn Hows, before heading out through Grizedale Forest on wide mountain bike trails with Coniston Old Man watching over from the other side of the lake. A refreshing descent and detour around some snoozing cows brought us back down to Water Yeat where, after the second of two well-organised water stations, we began the climb up to Beacon Tarn before wading through quad-sapping bogs for the next couple of miles. Eventually we descended to the shore of Coniston for a mile or two of tree-root-dodging and a wide, spacious field finish with live music and socially-distanced event village.

I crossed the line, put my face mask on, sanitised my hands and collected my medal and t-shirt, before heading out into Coniston for a paddle to wash away the mud.

It took me well over 5 hours which in my book is maximising on value for money! As one of my favourite quotes goes, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Happy running!

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