The Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon was our first mountain marathon this year, so we chose the the hardest class…. why you may ask? well to be honest, all the other classes were full!
I’ve tried to include more practical details in this blog than usual to give Pete and Tish a bit more information about what they need and what to expect. So, first of all… KIT!
Here’s all of our kit (minus cheese and chorizo)
The complete list includes:
Equipment: Rucksack, tent (know how to put the tent up, and only bring the pegs and guylines that you actually need! -you can borrow the dog kennel if you like), sleeping bag, balloon bed, balloons, balloon pump, stove, cooking pot, sheet of aluminium foil (a lightweight pan lid), lighter, gas canister, first aid kit, spork, cup, torch, compass, SI dibber (you can hire these), pen and paper (if requested), emergency blanket (if requested), water bottle, midge net/repellent if concerned that they might be an issue.
Clothing: long running tights, hat, gloves, waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, pair of socks, long sleeved top, warmer fleecy top (these are in addition to what you are wearing).
Day food: jelly babies, Cadbury’s brunch bar
Dinner food: Ainsley Harriott’s spicy cous cous, chorizo sausage, dried mushrooms, custard, cheese, brunch bar, tea bag
Breakfast: either cereal bars or cereal mixed with milk powder
Emergency food: packet of extra cous cous
It’s also useful to have a few things at the campsite on the Friday night/Saturday morning. These include fresh water (there is sometimes a queue for the tap!) and toilet paper (sometimes the loos run out!). On the subject of the bathroom, do not underestimate the time it takes to get ready in the morning. The loo queues can be quite long as you can see below, and the Saunders were more generous that others in the number of loos they provided. I would leave at least 2 hours between getting up and being at the start. There can often be a 10 -20 min walk to the start of the event also, which needs to be factored in (Richard says 1.5 hours, but he’s always late). Also, bring some vaseline!
The event started at Chapel Stile in Great Langdale. Saturday morning came all too quickly and with it came bright, hot sunshine. I thought about all you climbers and how much you would be rejoicing…. I was hoping for just a little cloud.
Soon enough the event started and we headed north over the shoulder of Silver Howe and out towards Easedale Tarn. Then we headed west past Blea Rigg, Stickle Tarn and up the path beside Dungeon Ghyll, then past the Pike of Stickle and Martcrag Moor. Then we went around Angle Tarn and climbed up to Ore Gap before dropping down to a control in the bottom of Yeastyrigg Gill. Then we went over Mickeldore to a control below the summit of Lingmell, then we dropped right down (450 m) to Lingmell Beck. This was the turn-around point, from here we were heading towards the half-way camp (our spirits rose slightly!). We climbed up to Styhead Pass and then Sprinkling Tarn to a control near Allen Crags, then back past Angle Tarn and Stake Pass, before a long trek northwards into Greenup Gill. Finally we went over the side of Ullscarf before dropping down steeply to finish at Steel End, at the south end of Thirlmere. It was a long long day, lasting 8.5 hours in total. The straight-line distance was 29.5 km with 2000 m of climb. Our GPS tracked our route and measured 37 km! We were so grateful when we finally arrived at the campsite. I lay on the floor whilst Richard attempted to put the tent up. He must have been tired because it took him ages to put it up!
… and he needed a rest afterwards! We both felt particularly weary after the first day. I think we were suffering from both the heat and the distance.
After quite a while I managed to stand up to take this picture of the campsite, soon after I sat down again.
On day 2, we started with a climb of Steel Fell (250 m) before dropping straight back down into Green Burn, then climbed straight away up to Calf Crag and then up to a small tarn near Mere Beck. Then we headed straight over High Raise and dropped down to Stake Beck. Then we climbed over Stake Pass (for the third time during the weekend!), before skirting under Rossett Pike (an evil traverse with lots of horrid, wobbly rocks) and climbing up to a sheep fold below the summit of Bowfell. From there, we had a long traverse along the south side of Great Langdale, starting with a control on The Band, followed by some awkward crossings of Hell Gill and Crinkle Gill, then in and out of Browney Gill and along the front of Pike of Bliscoe, complete with some other very awkward crossings of gills and ravines. At one point we down-climbed a chimney type feature that was filled with trees (thankfully!) into a ravine. Finally we dropped down to Blea Tarn and then straight back up Lingmoor Fell, before finishing at Bayes Brown (campsite).
The second day was shorter than the first, the straight-line distance was 18.5 km with 1350 m of climb. Richard clocked 22 km… It felt like a pretty big day out after the previous brutal day. We were 11th overall on our course and 3rd mixed team; not bad for our first MM of the year, but room for improvement…
All the courses turned out to be much harder than last year (which was more normal). About a third of the teams on the Scafell course dropped out. Half of the teams on the next course down (Bowfell) dropped out and 60% dropped out on the Kirkfell course (next course down)! Our friend who ran the LAMM elite course a couple of weeks ago said that the Scafell course was harder than the LAMM elite. It was tough!
We have lots of fabulous photos from the event, so here’s a puzzle for you….. locate the view!