It's a beautiful course, quite tough, with bits of road, a bit of forest trail and lots of stony footpath/bridlepath - pretty typical Lakeland running then. Despite my trepidation, by the time of the start I had my head in gear. I'd gone through all my usual pre-event routine (sunscreen, recce the last 800m or so, have a wee, light jog, gentle stretch, bit of chat with the person next to me on the start line) and was feeling really calm.
I ran conservatively, stayed well hydrated, enjoyed the brilliant chocolate-covered Kendal Mint Cake at 11km just before the infamous Coffin Trail (a steep, stony path from Windermere up to Claife Heights) and had enough left for a madcap final 800m down a steep grassy bank and across the field to the finish. Madcap, but I must have gained 20 places in those last minutes.
I finished in 1.42. My Garmin said I'd done 9.75 miles - which makes my pace about 10min 30sec/mile. Which I was happy with.
- Starting near the back of the course is a good way of staying calm.
- I was unusually irritated at continually overtaking/being overtaken by a guy in long combat trousers. I think I saw him off between 12 and 13k, but I may be wrong.
- I finished ahead of the great Ron Hill.
- Running at the back meant I was with a lot of runners who were unused to off-road running. It was gratifying how easily I drew away from them when the uphill road became uphill bridleway. There's definitely something in being experienced off-road. And it's rooted in balance and the ability to vary stride length, to skip sideways where necessary and to know when to walk!
- Having realistic expectations is a good way of enjoying a race. I wasn't racing. I just had fun.