The Lakeland 100 ‘Ultra Tour of the Lake District’ is one of the most spectacular long distance trail races, and certainly one of the toughest, which has ever taken place in the UK. The circular route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland fells, includes 6300m. This is certainly one for the bucket list.
The Lakeland 100 is classic and iconic, yet it avoids the ‘popular’ summits and instead wends its way through valleys and fells which are less visited but spectacular. The route starts in Coniston and heads South before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here the route heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston.
The event is continous and most competitors will not sleep en route. The winners are generally expected to finish close to the 23 hour mark but most take a lot longer. The overall time available for the route is 40 hours so sleep at intermediate checkpoints is possible, but time is not on your side so there’s little hanging around to be done.
There are 14 manned checkpoints on the course which are compulsory to visit, and food and drink is available at each. Checkpoints generally consist of village halls and they are staffed by the support team. The 40 hours available to complete the course may seem manageable but the climb, descent, rugged terrain, darkness and tricky navigation generally ensure a 50-60% failure rate over the 100 mile course. The organisers explain that “seasoned ultra runners have tried and many have failed, a finisher’s medal in the Lakeland 100 is possibly one of the most treasured possessions you will ever receive”.
The 100 mile event starts at 6pm on the Friday evening and the final cut off will be 10am Sunday morning. You can choose to enter the event as a solo participant, as part of a pair or as part of a 3 person team. Pairs and teams must remain together at all times on the course.
The event requires competitors to be experienced ultra distance runners with excellent navigation skills. Although the drop out rate is fairly daunting, the majority of those who fail are inadequately prepared. Make sure you prepare properly, both in terms of miles in the legs but also equipment and skills, before you tackle this monster.
Name: The Lakeland 100
Distance: 100 miles
Record time: Unknown, but Terry Conwy won in 19hrs 37mins in 2012 and the first woman, Rachel Hill, finished in 28hrs 47mins (27th overall).
Typical/average time: 32-38 hours
Terrain: Off road tracks, trails and fell
Number of aid stations: 14
Entry fee: £90 solo, £180 pair, £270 team of three (you must stay together)
Navigation required: Yes. You must be competent and practiced at night navigation
How Hard: 100 miles on foot with an Alp to climb. What do you think?
An awesome ‘lifetime achievement’ event which is one to tick off if you have a mind to do ultra marathons. The atmosphere is fantastic thanks to the 350 racers in the 100 mile loop, and the terrain is beautiful, if challenging. Just don’t underestimate the distance or difficulty and become a DNF statistic!
When to go: The even takes place from 26th to 28th July this year
What do I need?
- First aid kit to include: blister plasters / sterile pad dressing / bandage or tape to secure dressing as a minimum requirement.
- Full waterproof body cover, top and bottom
- Spare base layer top and bottom.
- Head torch with spare batteries
- Mobile phone, fully charged
- Hat and gloves
- Emergency foil blanket or bivi bag
- Emergency food and drink
- Map (supplied, waterproof and pre-marked) 1:40,000
- Road book (supplied on waterproof paper)
How to prepare:
Get some serious miles in your legs, recce as much of the course as you can, practice navigating at night and with sleep deprivation, test and retest all the kit you intend to carry, practice packing light and running with your pack.
- The Lakeland 50 runs at the same time, so could be a good warm up event the year before your 100 attempt.
- The Fellsman 61 miler at the end of April in Yorkshire
- The Tour de Helvellyn 40 miler, December (for the navigation and mountain skills practice)