Contributor Sarah Lewis Briggs tells us about taking part in Sunday’s Ullswater Trail Race, the final event in the Lakeland Trails series.
A breeze ruffled Ullswater and it was chilly hanging around waiting to board the steamer. A brave musician stood on deck as we traipsed on, most of us heading straight down the steps below deck, where there was a bar (for coffee) and – bliss – a radiator. Complete strangers chatted away to each other, forming instant running friendships and comparing notes on previous races. Every entrant had a story to tell.
One was Edwina, who had already completed the Glenridding event the day before. She has had three hip replacements but intended to power walk the course armed with Nordic poles. Her positive attitude should be an inspiration to everybody.
Landing at Howtown, a bunch of multi-coloured runners was quickly released on to the trails. Some hardy souls sported only t-shirts and shorts: I soon felt warm in my two jackets, long-sleeved top and full-length leggings, plus the hat and gloves which were part of the mandatory safety kit. ‘Safety kit’ may seem excessive but generally the only way off the route in an emergency is by boat: and even that would take time as the trail climbs up above the lake amongst the trees.
The course is glorious and as the day got brighter Cumbria was at its best, a cold blue sky contrasting with the metallic shimmer of autumn leaves. Overnight rain meant wet leaf mould lying on wet stones and it was advisable to walk in places: if you’re in a pack of runners just be patient and enjoy it if there are no passing places.
As with all the Lakeland Trails, the course is challenging but stunning and well worth the effort. Highlights included hearing cheering from the entrants for the next race as they passed by on the steamer to the start. Gusty winds the previous night meant no hospitality tents at the end: but did it matter? Not in the slightest. I’m just keen to do that beautiful route again as one of my training runs.
Three top tips: book early for 2015; don’t expect as quick a time as you’d get on road; make sure your training includes plenty of stony hilly trails, up and down.
More information is available here.