Returning to Staveley 18k Lakeland Trails
All part of the build towards Lakeland 50, this run was to get miles in the legs in the Lakes.
Build up had been a little erratic due to another chest infection which had meant 2 weeks without running in 8-21 April. At that time I’d started doing some 16-17k runs locally at conversation pace and feeling very comfortable doing so. That had filled me with a lot of confidence. Then came the two full weeks of inactivity, followed by a struggle to run because of the knock-on effect. The use of my wife’s blue inhaler worked wonders last Monday when I suddenly felt able to run at pace and feel normal again – rather than gasping and really struggling to run an ‘easy’ pace the week before! So, confidence restored I felt able to head to Staveley and enjoy what I knew would be a lovely day out with Lakeland Trails.
Race day I was up early and at Staveley before 9am. Ideal timing to buy some fresh sourdough loaves from More? artisan bakery, register to collect my race number and chip, followed by a full veggie brekkie at Wilf’s Cafe. I was set up for the day! Suitably full and fuelled, I wandered over to watch the start of the 10k and 5k races, soaking up the atmosphere and taking the chance to catch up with Race Director, Phil Blaylock. It’s always great to see local businesses like the bakery and cafe doing so well during event days. Every year I’ve been, both they, the local brewery and other Staveley coffee shops & eateries have been hammered! Not to mention the stall holders at the event village itself. It’s a lovely and welcoming little village that is an ideal base for trail running, hiking, mountain biking or road cycling. You can’t go wrong.
The weather was brighter than predicted with the sun out from early morning. It was still very cool with a chilly breeze though so I sought the warmth of the car to relax and rest a little before returning for the 1pm start – of the Challenge not the Race – as I had to be back earlier than usual for our son to drive to work. I’d decided for once to be sensible and treat this as time on feet rather than trying to batter myself in trying for a course pb. It might have subconsciously had something to do with this being my first event as V50 too! Standing at the start I felt a real sense of anticipation as I hadn’t done the 18k route for 3 years and, like all of the Lakeland Trail series, it’s a superb course: Beautiful scenery, varied terrain, challenging! I particularly love the final descent from Reston Scar. A full kilometer of steep downhill on tired legs – just what the quads need as your adrenalin kicks in! This year we had a slight tailwind on that descent. This was change I was grateful for after the gale force wind into our faces last year when you could barely catch your breath on starting the descent!
The start was delayed by 30 mins due to collapsing of a competitor at the finish of the 10 or 5k. Kendal Mountain Rescue, marshals and Lakeland Trails staff were immediately into emergency medical procedures and thankfully 2 ambulance were on the scene very quickly indeed. I think I speak for all of us when I saw our thoughts were only that the man who while clearly in serious trouble, was getting the medical care he so urgently needed. Ultimately, he was taken to where the Air Ambulance had landed nearby and I presume flown to Lancaster Hospital – that seemed to be the direction it was heading in as we saw it fly overhead about 13:35. By that stage were were roughly a kilometer into our run. I often found myself thinking of him and whoever his family and friends may be as I ran the course. Just hoping he was recovering okay.
On the run itself, I settled into a steady pace and enjoyed what I find to be that meditative rhythm of a group of runner’s feet hitting the ground. At each climb, no matter how gradual, I found it a bit of a struggle due to my chest so was always overtaken by a few runners. On each descent I’d relax and recover and pass a few people in return. This is what tended to happen a few times between myself and Pete Lashley. It’s always great to catch up with him around part of a route and this time I knew he’d pass me again on the turn back from Kentmere as we head up what I think it part of Garburn Pass. He did – though he kindly waited until after we’d gone past the photographer to leave me in his wake!
The top part of the that course along farm fields I usually find a bit of a struggle. This time it was a fantastic part of the course for myself and other runners around me. Several of us were cruising along at quite a pace for about 3-4km. I again struggled as we climbed out of the last water station. That said, the series of 3 climbs which ultimately result in your cresting Reston Scar were tough but enjoyable. The flags at the top of the Scar really do give you incentive to keep going. Those and the wonderful volunteers waiting to encourage you up to the top with whistles, shouts and the occasional cowbell. Superb! So that was it. A fast(ish) descent. Though not as quick as the 3 elite runners who came past me towards the finish of their 18k race! Coming back into Staveley showground I did manage a genuinely strong finish but do have to admit that’s a slight cheat having run within myself for much of the run due to the sensible pace I’d ran instead of flogging myself all the way round. Finishing time was a comfortable 1:42:38.
I stuck around for a little bit to see Ian Stainthorpe who came in 1:30:07 – a superb run when he’d only completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks fell race a week before and had done both club track sessions this week too! So next month it’s onto Coniston Trail Marathon. Should be a great day out with several fellow Rochdale Harriers doing that and the half marathon. I don’t have the training miles in my legs for racing 26.2 miles hard but it’s valuable time on feet in prep for Lakeland 50. Did I mention I was doing that as part of my 50th year btw? 🙂
Post-event update. The man given emergency medical hospital treatment is making a good recovery. Fingers crossed he’s okay long-term too.
All the best