Written by Susan Graham - http://continuingmyjourneytothedarkside.blogspot.co.uk/

On closing one circle and starting to draw another one.
For the past four years this event has been a large part of my life.  I've spent time planning, training (initially) then maintaining, hopefully trying to improve on the stamina etc., purchasing and honing down kit selections, reading large amounts of literature which I thought might give me hints, tips and inspiration.  I've spent countless hours on the forum chatting about the event and generally just feeling part of this fantastic thing called the Lakeland 100/50. I've learned such a lot on this journey and made some brilliant new friends and been extremely grateful for the advice and encouragement of old friends. The poor dog has been my companion on various adventures, well actually probably not poor dog as she loves to get wet, dirty and smelly.   Last year I DNF'd this event, it felt the right decision at the time but it still rankled and felt like unfinished business.  


I'll never ever forget that first finish.  It may sound like a cliche but that finish changed me somewhat.  I went in one side of those 50 miles one person and came out the other as a slightly modified version.  It will remain one of the best moments of my life.  I hope I made my family proud in fact I'm sure I did.  Despite the odd moans about going to the "bloody Lake District again" Bilbo has stoically driven me about, waited around and generally just been there to carry the bags, take the pictures and well just be there to say, well done, at the end.  Rissa has listened to copious amounts of probably very boring ultra stuff and accompanied me and Kona on some of our jaunts.  She has also been very good and helping me spend various amounts of money on good kit.  It means such a lot.  
There never really was any question that I wouldn't give it another shot, as I said unfinished business.  So once the entry was confirmed preparation began.  I had already entered the GL3D, which has been blogged about.  I started going to track, which I did enjoy and will be going back to once the Autumn and Winter arrive.   Did some mountain biking, popped in a road cycling event and generally did a fair amount of walking.  I'm sure some members of dog walking group might not see it the same way as hills don't particularly appeal to all LOL.  I even managed to quite late on in the day, manage to lose some weight, which helped a great deal.  More must come off as I realize things are a lot easier if one is not lugging around all those extra kilos


Arrival and registration.
Sadly didn't get down to Coniston in time to see the 100 runners off or see the Lakeland 1 which is a huge shame because as it turns out I missed Annabel Hart getting her medal.  Booked in to B & B then headed to get the registration over with.  Was gobsmacked to see Vicky waving at me from inside the hall, it took me several seconds to realize who it was.  Vicky and family were holidaying in the area and came along to take part in the Lakeland 1 and buy some new kit. See you just can't stop these Ultrarunners from needing new kit or thinking about Ultrarunning even on holiday.   Had to then do all the necessary stuff and oh how pleased I was that long time Lakeland buddy Anna did my weight LOL.  After that and chatting to other Lakeland peeps I was gobsmacked again to get a big hug from another DRC mate Susan  who was down with her partner supporting and scoping out the event. Yep those  Ultrarunners just can't help it.  Those two things conspired to help make this occasion even more special. 
After a good night's sleep and big bowl of porridge and some toast it was off the the briefing and then into the car for the trip to Dalemain.  Again it was special having Bilbo there at the start.  
Here's Kim and I just before the off.  Feeling confident and very hot.
So to the actual event itself.  
I'm not going to write loads about each section as those who have read the other blogs will know route almost as well as me by now.  I'll try to keep it shortish.
The first four miles done and dusted and the heat is tremendous.        
The journey to Howtown was uneventful just relentlessly hot, the sun was at it's highest and was fierce.  Managed a run though, as this is a brilliant section with wonderful views over Ullswater and best of all most of it is downhill. My only problem was that I knew what was coming next after the checkpoint.
Dibbed into Howtown determined not to linger long, but still needed to fix feet as they were very hot and sand and wee stones had made their way in.  Re-hydrated best I could.  Kim came in just before I was about to leave and said she was pulling out with ITB issues.  Bugger.
Now here is where it gets a bit personal so if squeamish about bodily functions skip gaily on. 
I knew leaving Howtown that I had a problem, I suffer periodically from cystitis, the heat does not help, so on one of my sit down stops up Fusedale I was forced to sit down in another way and attempt to wee, this was very painful and made me feel a bit sick.  Only remedy is to drink more, but as I was sweating so much that was difficult.  Popped two paracetamol and trudged on trying to ignore it.
Thank to Steve Mee for photo.
Usual trip up to Groovy Gill, planted face, on purpose into the Gill and cooled myself and started again.  It gets better for me Fusedale after this spot, just one more sit down (don't worry not to wee this time, just to sit and gather strength for the next push) and I'm over the top and overtaking people who quite frankly thought I may have been dying five mins before.  Brilliant run downhill and onto Mardale, no fear this year, nice steg round the edge and into the checkpoint,.  Expertly looked after by the Spartans.  Loved the sign on entry which read in big letters "This is Sparta".  Two more toilet trips, more pain and it's on up Gatesgarth.  Stopping several times not really because of the incline but because of the feeling in my nether regions lol.  Must of looked a bit funny, standing there looking stupid with my legs apart and swearing under my breath.   Fortunately the sun had gone now and it was much cooler so no more sweating.   One of my highlights going down to Sadgill was the 100 runner coming running, skipping down behind me singing out about how much pain he was in.  He was still running though bless him.  The rain came on heavens hard going through the gate at the farm, so quick stop and waterproofs on, plus headtorch as it was now dark. Up and over and into Kentmere, one small blip when I thought I was going the wrong way, put back on course by a lovely 100 runner. 
Kentmere - guzzled two, yes two strawberry smoothies and headed out into the damp night in the company of a bunch of 100 runners.  Followed them for a while but they soon disappeared.  Down into Troutbeck and up Robin Lane a section I know well.  Down into scary woods and my inevitable fall.  Worried the 100 runner behind me.  Onwards following this runner, getting panicked now as time was running out.  Hit the trail outside the wood and started running into Ambleside, big steg on to get to checkpoint determinded I wasn't being timed out.  Arrived upstairs at checkpoint to be greeted by cheery Charlie who informed me I still had over an hour before timing out.   Sat here for a while enjoying listening to the 100 runners, then forced myself up and out into the night.  Bless Charlie he was trying to get me buddied up in the dark.  Now buddying up is brilliant in the dark, but I knew I couldn't keep up with, as it turned out Karen and Tony, so was happy to complete this section on my own even in the dark as I know it well.  
Coming down into Elterwater and the dawn breaking was wonderful, there was a mist rising off the water and it was lovely and ethereal.  More 100 runners passing me now, they are machines.  Found my way to Chapel Stile checkpoint by reading and following the road book.  Looked after very well at the checkpoint by the lovely Lois and co.  Managed pain free pee, cool of the night and the smoothies had worked their magic. Woop Woop.
Onto the last leg, across to Blea Tarn in the light and over to the unmanned dipper.  This section was pure hell, those boulders grrr. and slippy as hell.  Imagine my surpise to see Vicky and Annabel, not supporting just passing by on an early morning drive as Annabel never sleeps, really.   Shouted a greeting had picture taken and off over to High Tilberthwaite, end in sight now.
The path turns into this scramble.  Photo taken by Vicky Hart.       
Took a feat of will to get up from the chair at Tlberthwaite and get going again.  Looked back a few times for the lady I'd come over the last mile with, and felt bad not to wait for her to catch me up, but I didn't dare stop as I might never of kept going and I so wanted to finish.
I enjoyed this section  after getting the "Steps of Doom" and the "Scramble from Hell" out of the way it's a nice walk across the common to the drop into Coppermines Valley.  Well it is on a nice sunny morning, although the wind did get up nearer the top and it was decidedly a bit chilly. However I'm not so sure I would want to do it in the dark or if the clag was down.  So after nearly fifty miles of stones, rubble and  wet slippy slate the last downhill section really should be bliss, but it's not. It's rough and it's tough and it's slippy as ****  It's thankfully short though.  The last wee bit I had resolved to run, but quite frankly I had nothing left to run with, the heat of the day before had taken it's toll so I just walked back to the finish.
At the finish I was so chuffed to be taken into the hall by Anna, who I met all those years ago when I did my first one.  Somehow it was fitting.  After getting my medal and swapping my t,shirt, yes I know never satsifed. I phoned Bilbo to let him know.  Kim appeared and snapped me and my medal.
Kim had not dibbed out at Howtown, but had carried on to Mardale where she surrendered herself  into the care of the Spartans.   She'll hopefully get her ITB problems sorted soon.
Happy but very tired. Thanks to Kim for photo.
Post Event and the future.
So there we are, it's all over now.  I won't be entering next year, it's time to move on and face another challenge and I also want others to enjoy this event so to take another place would be a bit greedy.   Not saying I won't be back or not involved because as I said I love this event and just to be part of it in some way is just wonderful, so I might be out there marshaling or supporting.  

So what's the future.  Well I have an idea and a plan is being sketched out in my head.  Albeit suffice to say if it hadn't been for the Lakeland I wouldn't even be contemplating taking on another adventure, but it's now gotten to be a bit addictive.

I've met some amazing people along this part of the journey, Kim, Anna, Sue, Bev, Lois, Lauren and on and on.  I've been given an interest in the Ultra running world/community and watched in awe the exploits many others who I've had the privilege of coming into contact with.  Visited some amazing places and seen the sunset and the sunrise on some truly beautiful scenery.   However the journey continues, and I will be blogging shortly, hopefully with more detail, if not for one thing then it will most definitely be another.

Thank you Lakeland50.  It's not goodbye though.

Oh I almost forgot and had to quickly snap "the bling".