ladybowler marathon weekend

Wow, this marathon was more a adventure then a race. The peak district is breathtaking and the route was insane! Seriously, I was expecting to find One Eyed Willy's (greatest pirate name ever) pirate ship at some point!

After a few very stressful weeks dealing with the forced sale of our flat, waiting for emma's treatment to begin and my silly injuries. This weekend's trip was a great way to reset, forget the bollocks and reconnect with each other.

love this photo. Race start at the bottom of the Ladybowler dam. Em may be in the middle of a shart.

Over the years Emma has had Two major decompression surgeries on the lumber area of her spine. They only made things worse. Now her therasics are degenerating too.
She had a small slip getting out of the shower on tuesday and jarred her neck pretty badly. We were really unsure if we would be able to make the trip.

Friday morning Because Emma has spent a couple of days in bed I give up on going up north. I had made sure she had her meds but couldn't wake her fully so I left her to rest and popped to the gym. Its only round the corner. I was there no more than 20 mins when Emma started calling.

She had hauled her sore, tired arse out of bed and was wanting help packing as she was not going to let me miss this.


saturday morning

We got badly lost looking for the race start and spent the best part of a hour driving round in circles with no reception; going "owwwww!" "Awwwww!" "My god it's breathtaking!" and "Where the fuck are we!!".
Eventually we happened upon a yellow arrow race direction sign on the side of the road and after a mutual "Thank fuck!" we quickly found the visitors center with little time to spare.

The race start was in the shadow of the ladybower dam. A stunning place to start the race. Until you realise that you're at the lowest part of a very very deep valley and you were are about to run up it!

Apart from a couple of runs up north all of my training has been on mostly flat terrain. There is trees hear bigger than most of the hills in berkshire! As usual I'm completely unprepared.


The first half

We started of with a stunning incline. Slowly climbing up a stunning country road to get level with the lake. I kept things nice and slow and managed to keep the competive arsehole from racing away. My ankles were still tight but felt really good if I kept the speed down.

The route was stunning and I was dealing with the hills pretty well. The views are so distracting. Just as things started to get really hard the trees would open up and the most spectacular views would literally take your breath away. Without realising the climb would be over and I would be relaxing into some great downhill sections.

The country road became a trail road. Apart from a ram charging at me and darting off at the last second; I was coping well. Well being a objective word. I hadn't collapsed or shat myself, so I was happy. For the first time ever in a race I was not watching my pace or distance.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mile 15

I made it to the fifteen mile checkpoint feeling great. I had paced myself really well and was starting to think about finishing times. Emma was helping marshal the traffic and seeing her was a real pickmeup.
After a very slimy/salty hug she say's "wow! you look fresh; pretty much everyone coming through here looks like they are about to die" David Riley was there too. encouraging everybody and driving up and down the course making sure everyone was doing good. "Your'e doing well just be carefull on the next hill, it's a fun one!"
guess where mile 15 starts!

I tried running for about 20 meters before my race poles come out and I started to cry. It had been raining heavily the night before so It was like trying to hike up a avalanche. All thoughts of a quicktime evaporated as I crawled up this massive incline.
I was almost at the top when I was brave enough to get my phone out. This photo really does not show the severity of the climb.... Honest.

Half way up I saw a mountain goat crying!!

It took me almost 50 minutes to climb the next two miles. Over one hundred and fifty meters of vertical climb. This was by far the hardest and most sadistic fun "HILL" i've ever encountered.
Just ahead of me two other runners with a good ten years on me were storming up. They were bouncing from rock to rock and making every step look graceful and easy.
I've got a ton of training to do for next year!

The views at the top. Truly breath taking. photo really does not show the scale.

The beast of a descent! wet dreams to downhill mountain bikers.

Once the hills became more manageable, around about the twenty mile mark I was absolutely spent. I was just trying my best to keep running no matter how slow. Other runners passing me were giving words of encouragement and support but I was fecked. I was running in slow motion now.

Mile twenty four was more walking then running. Tbh I was happy to just be moving forward. I was buggered if I was going to stop. If I sat down I was going to be there for the rest of the day.

The last mile I was exhausted, starving, totally dehydrated and moving mostly on adrenaline. Seeing the finish line and Emma was exhilarating. Hearing her and the rest of the marshals screaming "Sprint finish!" was frightening. I finished part spiriting part hobbling.

Me and Em at the finish line Me and dave at the finish.

What a thrilling event! I can not recommend the "Ladybower trail marathon" from the "Peak runner series" enough.
David Riley and family really out did themselves. Feed stations every five miles around a beautiful course. The course was challenging but achievable; even for a new runner such as myself. It was a real adventure and I will 100% be returning next year.
Smile says it all! Loved every second.