Plenty of parking on site and a great HQ for camping if that’s your thing. Straightforward registration and chance to buy a buff (£7). Beautiful setting for race HQ, the first half dozen miles are track alongside the river which are pretty uneventful, then some short woodland ups and downs and out to first CP at Caldbeck village hall at which you’re very well catered for. A long slow incline out of town and the climbing starts to High Pike which is stunning, then fantastic rolling fell and bogs before dropping down a gill and a long fiddly trail up to Skiddaw House before some really fast downhill trail round the east side of Skiddaw before dropping out at CP2 at Skiddaw car park, which is a little less well stocked. Then the long slog straight to the top of Skiddaw before ringing the bell at the trig, photo, and off down CArl Side track heading SW on a steep scree track before the more technical descent of Ullock Pike. Onto Cp3 at bassenthwaite and then a long boring stretch of farm track and road all the back to Caldbeck CP where hot soup is on offer, before the final bit of the lollipop route back through woodland and then riverside. Back at HQ the fire pit is going and the stone bake pizzas are cooking. Outstanding race
Posted on 04.12.17
The parking area looked massive on the map but soon runs out so get there early or be prepared for a mad dash round the local streets for a spot! 10 minutes walk to the start is easy and signposted, registration straight forward. Good to have use of the visitor centre for toilets and warmth but gets very overcrowded. I remember the start being a couple of miles of slow incline with decent scenery , nothing too tough. Much of the course is tarmac lanes, farm track and grassy track which I thought was a great mix. Only a few aid stations and basic, I would recommend being self sufficient. The hills are all bearable nothing too bad, but the very last one within a mile of the finish is a proper bastard when you’re dead on your feet. About a 20% gradient for about 500m roughly. Thankfully once over the top you can spring down to the finish. Shame the medal is generic, but you get a base tech shirt thrown in too
Posted on 04.12.17
Registration - loads of free parking at the school, in and out with full kit check and chat with 4 different tables of crew within 10minutes, Very efficient, very very friendly. Stayed at Summersgrove Hall in Whitehaven - a great find for £39/night and 10 minutes drive from the start. Took the 6.30am coach from the finish point to the start - here they have a toilet block for a quick pitstop before a short hike up through dense woodland to the start line. The view here is fantastic - Osprey Viewpoint in Dodd Wood. Jon gives a very in depth and useful briefing covering route changes but also tips for first time trail/ultra runners. Off we go straight up a hill! Soon after the initial hill its a few miles through farmland and then road on the outskirts of Keswick, before heading onto trail along the shore of Derwent. This picks up the start and first third roughly of High Terrain's Scafell Pike marathon which highly recommend also if SBU35 takes your fancy. So, lovely peaceful trail along the water, then road through Grange village, and on passed Borrowdale YHA and then back onto gentle trail...before a short steep ascent, then levels off as you get onto the Honister climb proper. After not long you can see the top of the Pass in the distance and the tiny dots of runners way off at the top. Lovely climb up passed the YHA and slate mine with an incredible view back down the valley with the mine workings all around you. Over the fell and a brilliant steep descent alongside a beck and down onto gravel track passed Black Sail YHA. Long flat track here for several miles into CP2 at the farm just passed YHA Ennerdale. From here it's a long slog of gravel track along stunning Ennerdale Water on through sleepy Ennerdale Bridge, and south as far as Blakeley Raise stone circle before off onto more stony track along Nannycatch Beck. Just a mile along you climb Dent Hill - notoriously tough at about 30miles in and gradient of about 20% for almost a mile. Far tougher than Honister Pass! Be prepared! The views at the top are superb - over all of the western lakes one side and out to scotland and IOM on the other. You can see Sellafield and St Bees finish down on the coast from here. From here it's mostly downhill or flat and a combination of rough pasture and cycle lane. Unexpectedly you stumble across the finish with a sprint across the school field for a final dib. All the runners stick about to clap you the full distance of the run in - many minutes of clapping and the best welcome home i've ever encountered in a race. A real party atmosphere at the finish - very friendly, free pint from the local brewery, free huge fish & chips, music blasting and you pick your own slate medal from the choice left on the table. I wore Inov8 roclites and whilst great on the bog & trail sections, the majority was compacted track and gravel so a general trail shoe with more cushioning wouldve been better. An excellent race. Only word of warning, it's advertised as great for a first ultra - i think it's tough for a first, far easier out there, but plenty complete as their first (drop out rate tiny), just be prepared, it's tough!
Posted on 29.08.17
Getting to the start is easy from the train station, seems the best way to get to the race. Registration confusing as in a small gym which is still used during the race. Not clear where to queue and that queues run by distance and not name. Be easier if they moved the registration out to the huge empty field out the back! Good race brefing and atmosphere at the start. You know what you're getting with the Thames Path - 26miles of towpath essentially. Majority is gravel track and the rest is tarmac so definitely one for road shoes not trail. Was concerned that the path would be too congested on a Saturday morning but the bulk of the path is wide enough for runners and walkers and dogs. They could do with starting the race earlier than 10am in my view. I counted 2 aid stations on the marathon course manned by local cadets, but these are pretty basic - gummy sweets and drinks, so no gels, savoury, fruit, cake etc. Also just few cups of water at the finish - no food or drink provision here. also no goody bag if that's your thing. Fantastic medal, also good to get a time print out at the finish. Found the race too competitive and being run just for times. Can't remember the last time i ran a marathon where people weren't chatting or saying hello to each other - didn't see this once. Basically just a race to chalk up another marathon rather than one you come and enjoy.
Posted on 28.08.17
Big £110 entry for non stop 100km looks to all go into huge organisation of checkpoints and start/finish that never seem to shut - huge affairs like a mini festival at key points in the course. Nice to have big CPs with loads of fanfare and noise and great range of food but does it balance the entry fee, no not for me. Always prefer to have postal registration to avoid the faff on the early morning start, but it was so quick here that I didn't mind too much. Parked at the finish for a tenner, in a field adjacent to the finish line so very convenient and easy to access. T-shirts were £18 on top but that seemed like ok value in itself, just a shame that they don't tell you it's collection at start only - means carrying it the whole way really. Aside from a booklet with the course map inside I didn't encounter any race briefing - just friendly motivational banter from what sounded like a smashie & nicey DJ at the start pen. All in all can't fault any part of the start too much. Very well marked course, the BaseCamp was nice and lively but confusing for 100k runners - so you run through the finish?? It turns out you do to get your 50k split time. Loads of hot food and drink and cake at the halfway in a huge huge marquee. All too easy to sit down and get chatting here. Every road had a marshall, every CP had stacks of friendly helpers buzzing about for you. Loads of watermelon, gels, sweets - just would've been nice to have some proper savoury like sausage rolls. You don't need to take any food on this race in my opinion - very well catered for and CPs every 8-12km approx. I was warned that about 5km out you can see the finish - it's a very very long 5km! The last 10K is very rutted and stoney, and seeing the finish but with 5km still to go is a killer. This is made worse when about 1.5miles from the end you run up to the stones as runners come back towards you. Quick photo by one of the stones and then back the way you came until you're into a field and into the home straight which is a lovely downhill tarmac stretch. Big inflatable arch, loads of people clapping you in with the cowbells going. Lots of medics on hand plus hot food. They also have a barn with loads of yoga mats and blankets so you can crash. In summary, beautiful scenery not too hilly, great local support, great CPs and staff, great medal and t-shirt. Definitely recommend if you don't mind the price
Posted on 17.07.17
Great out and back with a 2 mile lolipop section, starting Moss Bank where there's plenty of free parking. 100m walk to registration and start line. Weather for the first couple of hours was awful in 2017 so limited support at start and round the course. Very easy navigation round. Steady climb up from Moss Bank by road, and here on Colliers Row Road for a 300m stretch is the only time you're on the road with traffic - and a fairly quick road at that. On to the beautiful moors for a mile of so (in the clouds the whole way during the 2017 race), out at Winter Will radio mast and then a long but very fast tarmac downhill stretch. Remembering all the time that on the return leg this is going to be an awful long slog back up. Down and across the front of Pigeon Tower with great views over to the West. From this point the route is relatively flat through woodland at Rivington and possible to pick som time back up, then out on to road at the crossing between Upper & Lower Rivington Reservoirs, quick road crossing and then nod to a marshal, quick right turn and you're alongside the flat west side of Upper Rivington Reservoir. Nice views and walkers to say hello to. At the end of the path there's a feed station this year manned by Chorley Ladies FC. You turn right here but if you wanted a great pub for food after youd'd turn left here and there's the Yew Tree pub just down the way. Great beers and atmosphere, and fantastic food. My favourite pub in the Bolton area. Anyway, having turned right, along the South edge of Angelzarke Reservoir, up along the East side and then a marshall directing running traffic - this is where the lolipop starts and ends. Straight on through woodland that edges the reservoir - pretty pleasant, but soon enough a short hill of decent gradient. Couple of kissing gates and a downhill and then you're out at the top of the reservoir section to an aid station with gels and sweeties and drinks and friendly faces. Quick switchback and you're into some nice pastureland land that which was flooded from Black Brook just north, to almost knee depth. Lovely and refreshing to wade through. Shortly after this you drop out at White Coppice and around their cricket field. From here it is coutry lane all the way back down to the last aid station reached. Instead of running back along the reservoir it's up a toughie of a climb on road, but it plateaus soon enough and from there it's another fast road downhill until the end of the lolipop at the SE corner of Angelzarke. From here you're covering your footsteps back to the finish.... but what you thought was a long flat wooded section through Rivington turns out to be slightly up hill the whole way, and then you have the very cobbled & rocky climb back up to near Pigeon Tower. The rest was runable for me until the long road back up to Winter Hill mast where a buddy paced me up. Drink at the 22mile aid station at the top and then it's all downhill for 4 miles - mile or so over the moor, then road all the way back into the finish. Medal is ok - cut out image of the Winter Hill mast.
Posted on 18.06.17
First 10miles or so the scenery is unbelievable - like running through a Capability Brown landscape. Lovely quiet track and roads the full distance and just 2 hills to worry about. Nav is not as easy as you might think as you're not following waymarkers - and through villages there are no route markers. The only signs i remember are yellow arrows at the start and end. Great start/finish location, loads of parking, short walk to registration, very picturesque for startline selfies. Nice singlet and medal, good organisation, good level of support out on course
Posted on 18.06.17
Understand that there's been a change of organiser for 2016. Email info pre-event all good. The course itself is spectacular with most of it giving sight of the sea. Highlights at Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh. The course profile looks pretty flat but surprisingly tougher underfoot than I was expecting - but was also a very hot day. It's a great mix of trail through farmland, woodland, dunes, fields. Disappointing organisation from on the day though: registration not at a central point so people still wandering around 5 minutes before race start looking for numbers. No pins handed out with numbers. Bag drop all over the place with bags for different destinations going into the same bag. I know that 100k/100milers had mix ups with bags not appearing at the correct CPs. No signs for where the race start was. Signage along the 50k route was pretty good to be fair, only 2 wrong turns in that time. Check points really poor with only water and bananas, and one with flapjacks. Final CP on the 50k was a guy on his own who insisted we were at 42km when everyone's watches read around 48km. Didn't appear to be any timing on route - no chips or clock at finish. Support from walkers and runners and locals along the route was fantastic and friendly. Could and should be an awesome ultra but the organisation needs a lot of work.
Posted on 18.09.16
Posted on 30.03.16