My first Lakeland race
Anniversary Waltz: AM, 18.5K, 1110m

Two years ago I joined Hilary (mum) and Clare on a camping trip to Braithwaite. I was aware that they would be doing a race on the Saturday so I decided I would go with them, have a little walk and watch some of the race. This race was the Anniversary Waltz. It was a glorious day so I walked to the top of Catbells and back to the finish to see them come in. I was totally inspired and in awe of these amazing runners flying into the finish having run all those mountains. Being a bit of an on/off runner, and having only run a couple of road races, I turned to mum and said “I’m going to do this race one day”.

Fast forward two years and I’m standing amongst a large crowd of people about to start the race thinking “what the hell am I doing here? I can’t run this. I’ll be last!” In fact, the only reason I was standing there was because it was the last year that the AW was going to be held and it was literally now or never. A few pleasant words were spoken about the late Steve Cliff, who died of motor-neurone disease in January, and his incredible fundraising achievements. And then we were off.

It was a very steady start as there were a lot of runners on quite a narrow track, though we soon spread out and I began to gain a reasonable (for me) pace on the road, leaving Hilary somewhere behind me (knowing full well she was going to catch me on Robinson somewhere). Reaching the bottom of Robinson, I left the majority of runners and cut off right up the hill fairly early. I knew I was too much of a wimp to face the steeper climb further along so I plodded on up the grass with an occasional glance behind to see if HL was also taking this route (we had discussed options before the race) but I couldn’t see her anywhere. I reached the ridge and jogged along to meet the other runners coming up the steeper section and headed towards the dreaded rock climb. Knowing HL was pretty terrified of the scramble, I looked behind me to see if I could see her, just to give her some reassurance. Couldn’t see her, had I beaten her up the hill? Woo — go me!

Emma Lane (daughter)

Hilary Lane (Mum)

I started climbing and fortunately it was quite dry, so not too difficult to manage. I looked up to see how much further I had to climb and guess who I saw? HL — ahead of me — being coaxed by one yellow and one maroon and yellow vest. Damn!(I later discovered they were Martin Bullock of Pudsey Pacers and Neil Wallace of Pudsey & Bramley). (Editor’s note: we think P&B might sue us if we don’t point out they think their vest is claret and gold, not maroon and yellow.)

After what seemed like forever, and after a few moans and groans exchanged between a few other runners, we finally reached the summit. Then downhill (yay), before the climb up to Hindscarth. This climb was reasonably uneventful and went quite quickly (or so it seemed), as I was able to jog/walk in between mouthfuls of dates and water. Reaching the top of Hindscarth, I was greeted by two female marshals in red bridesmaid dresses (one of whom was staying in our hostel and had shown us the dress the night before). This was to celebrate the wedding anniversary of Wynn and Steve Cliff (hence the name of the race).

Downhill again (yay) towards Dale Head. I saw Sheelagh on this descent and we exchanged a cheerful wave. It felt lovely being able to run properly and to feel that I was actually getting somewhere. En route to Dale Head, I passed Hilary Tucker who had walked around the route to support, and after a few encouraging words and photographs, I started heading up hill again. I knew this wasn’t a big climb so again managed a bit of a jog/walk/shuffle.

On top of Dale Head, there was a lovely group of people sitting next to the trig point singing and playing guitars; how encouraging. Shame I couldn’t stop longer.

Descent again (yey) – or maybe not so “yey”, more like “ow” – the descent off Dale Head is tough and seemed to go on forever. My legs began to turn into jelly and I started getting clumsy. I had a few slips and trips but managed to land comfortably on the padding that is my bum –- no injuries! By this point, I was bloody boiling hot. My hands had swollen up so much, I looked like Elephant Man so was very grateful when I had to cross the stream at the bottom and was able to dunk my elephant hands in and splash my face. I stood up and heard “Go on Emma!”:  it was Ann and Clare, who had also been for a long run/walk. They gave me a good boost, though this was short-lived as I began the climb up to High Spy (urgh). My legs were still jelly-like from the Dale Head descent so this was a struggle; I was definitely feeling it now.

The journey from High Spy to the top of Catbells seemed a bit of an undulating blur but the end felt near. Looking at the descent from Catbells filled me with dread. I remember it being painful when we reccied but what can you do? With my jelly legs and my elephant hands, I clambered down the rock slowly and down the grassy, agonising descent.

Reaching the gate at the bottom, there were some fantastic women cheering frantically which helped me muster the last bit of energy I could find to get down that awful road, which seems to get longer and longer every time you run it….round the corner and into the field, where mum greeted me with plenty of shrieking and a sweaty hug.

After drinking my body weight in water (I finished mine far too early on the run), I heard someone say “free beer in the village hall” Free beer? Yes please! After a couple of mouthfuls of this well deserved and well needed beer, I put it on the floor to change my shoes and knocked the rest of the glass over. Fail!

Things I learned:

– Lakeland races are hard
– Take more water
– Don’t assume you can beat your mum because you are half her age and faster on the FLAT
– Drink beer before changing shoes

Emma Lane