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Phil said: “This was the inaugural running of the Lakeland Trails Marathon. It is part of a whole series of Trail races in the Lake District from spring to autumn. Most races are much shorter between 10 and 17km, and there was also an 18km trail race on the day of the marathon.
The start for the marathon race was at 9am, but there was also a marathon “challenge” for walkers and slower runners starting at 7am. The marathon started and finished at the school playing fields in Coniston Village. The course was on a variety of terrain, a lot of hard packed gravel, but also rough stony bridleways and paths (especially tricky on descent) with only a couple of very short sections (< 2 miles) on road. The course was very twisty-turny and humply with over 2400ft of ascent and not much that could be described as flat except for the last few miles.
The race was billed as the most picturesque marathon in the UK, and I certainly would not dispute that, because the views over Conisiston water towards the fells were absolutely amazing, and the loop around tarn was simply stunning. It was a hot (20-25 C) virtually cloudless day with no breeze, and surprisingly little shade on route, so it felt sweltering. I was glad I took a small camel-back type rucksack with about 1.5 litres of water as the four water stations would not have been enough given the heat. There was a surprise at about 17 miles where we had to wade through a river (between waist and thigh depth), because the same council that awarded the race permit had decided to start re-building the bridge 3 days before the race! The weather combined with the rough humply course and the occasional water feature made for a much slower than usual marathon pace (more time to admire the views though!). The winner finished in an admirable time of a little over 3 hours, but most were way further back. I finished in just under 4 hours – my slowest ever marathon by a good margin!
The race organizer personally greeted each finisher over the line and awarded them their medal, which I though was a nice touch. Like many other runners I headed straight for the lake after finishing to cool off the tired legs, and the water was oh so nice it I ended up going for a well earned swim.
Overall a spectacular route and very well organized for a first attempt, so I’d definitely do it again, but I think this marathon is destined to become very popular.”