This weekend sees two of the most spectacular long distance events in the country - the Montane Lakeland 100 and Lakeland 50 races. Upwards of 1100 people are expected at the starting line, though how many will cross the finish is anyone's guess. Competitors must be hoping that the weather cools down a bit by then.
The Lakeland 100, now in its seventh year, starts at Coniston on the evening of Friday 25 July. It is billed as an 'Ultra Tour of the Lake District' - a gruelling 100-mile circuit with roughly 6300m ascent. It's a continuous event, so to be in with a chance at a competitive time runners can't expect to sleep or even stop for long. Forty hours are allowed for the course, but winning finishing times generally come in around the 23 hour mark.
'The route does not pass over any of the popular Lakeland summits' says the event website.
'Instead, it weaves its way through stunning valleys, contours picturesque fells and cuts its own line through the amazing Lakeland topography. The Lakeland 100 will take you to places in Cumbria you may never have visited before and it's likely you'll wonder why.'
The event is only for runners with a proven long distance track record, but even so more than half of entrants drop out before the end. Around fifty runners took part in the inaugural race; this year it'll be more like 350.
'What makes the Montane Lakeland 100 and 50 races so special is the atmosphere and camaraderie of the competitors. Those that complete the challenging course each year become part of a family that share a unique bond' says Marc Laithwaite, Race Organiser.
- For a breakdown and map of the Lakeland 100 see this UKH Route Card
The halfway mark on the 100-miler is also the starting point for the Lakeland 50, which gets underway with just before mid day on Saturday 26 July.
'As it's only half of the Lakeland 100 course it's the easy option.. right?' the organisers ask, rhetorically. 'That's the first and worst error you could possibly make...'
It's far more accessible, and popular, than its big sibling, but even the 50 is still nearly double the distance of a marathon, on tough off-road terrain, with over 3000m ascent. With a time limit of 24 hours the race is achievable for both runners and determined walkers - so long as they can keep going through the night. Sprinting off at the head of the pack, elite mountain runners race neck and neck to complete the course in eight hours or less.
- Check out the Lakeland 50 on this UKH Route Card
And for more info on both races see the event website here.