This race consists of a one lap half marathon and a two lap full marathon and has been going for some thirty years under the organisation of its founder “Rocket” Rod. It has always had a smaller field of runners, usually a few hundred and been very welcoming and friendly. I think part of this is because of the nature of the course being very hilly with its loop taking you through Great Langdale and Little Langdale. It is certainly a race for runners that aren’t looking for a PB and want something a bit more challenging with fantastic scenery. The race is a proper road race, being all on tarmac so no need the think about wearing trail shoes or getting muddy whatever the weather.
Over the last two years Rod had bowed out from managing the race and another organisation had taken it on. Sadly for the event this hasn’t worked well and last year due to bad weather, it was called off at the last minute for safety reasons. This year the Brathay Trust took it on in the hope of breathing new life into this classic race and adding another event into their portfolio to increase revenue for their charity work. I know they have the experience, infrastructure and local knowledge to pull this off and as a supporter of Brathay and love the race I was willing it to be a success once again.
Brathay attracted around 500 runners for the race which brought a great atmosphere to the start, Rocket Rod was on hand to start the race, watch the runners finish and present the winners with their trophies It was lovely to see him still involved without having to arrange everything. The Brathay team brought in chip timing, a well organised registration, excellent course marking, well manned and stocked water stations. I know I’m biased and willing the event to be a success but I couldn’t fault their organisation this year and I’m sure this bodes well for its future.
The weather forecast was cloudy with a 25% chance of rain, well sadly we had that 25% for the whole of the race, it never stopped raining, mostly drizzle although calm and not too cold. In fact not bad for running but the low cloud did hide virtually all the peaks and sadly some of the views I’ve enjoyed seeing here previously.
I knew I wouldn’t get a fast time on this course so I had decided to simply consider this as a training run and enjoy the day. I also knew lots of the Brathay staff at the water stations and many of the runners so it was simply great opportunity to see everyone and catch up with friends I rarely get to see. The first mile was flat and draws you into a false sense of security as the second mile is the biggest hill which by the top is hardly worth trying to run up it is that steep. Then is down the winding lanes, twisting left and right, up and down through Little Langdale, it’s like being on a roller coaster.
It’s a great time of the year to come up into the Lake District the leaves on the trees are all changing colour, lots of greens, yellows, orange and brown. Sadly the sun wasn’t out to light them all up but the rain on the leaves did seem to intensify their colours and I enjoyed these tree colours as I made my way round the course.
It took me 1 hour 51 minutes for the first lap. Passing the finish after 13 miles is quite a lure for some who elect not to continue for a second lap and turn into the finish with the real half runners finishing. The prospect of a second lap with the main hills and much fewer runners makes some the marathons runners elect for this option of an early finish. I can thoroughly understand this urge but for me I’m proud to be taking on the marathon and eager to battle the hills in the second lap, oh and dare I say enjoy the scenery for a second time.
One more lap on and into the finish to meet running friends and the Brathay team to finish in 3 hours 51 minutes 29 seconds to collect a lovely medal depicting one of the hills I’d had the pleasure of running past. Not a particularly fast time but respectable for the course considering the 3000 feet of climb and was in the area I’d hoped for. I’m so pleased for Brathay to have pulled off another marathon event and I’m sure this event will successfully continue over the coming years in their capable hands.