The Lakeland 50 is one the greatest ultra running and walking challenges in Europe, perhaps the world. It is run over the second half of the Lakeland 100 Ultra Tour of the Lake District, completing the final 50 miles of the 100 course. As it's only half of the Lakeland 100 course it's the easy option....right?

That's the first and worst error you can possible make!

The Waterhead Hotel grounds

The Lakeland 50 was always going to be difficult in my schedule, I had such a light winter with training, family troubles and stupid silly early shifts that messed up my routine. 

This left no time when I actually felt very motivated to train, or rested enough from work...

I figured I would, come along for the adventure to help support, OR attempt to hike/jog and not race, just aim to finish and not get lost...

Conniston Water 

I knew the months coming up to the event I wasn't ready! 

I booked the Hotel in Conniston a year ahead (The Lake District books up very fast especially at the most popular ultra weekend).

I couldn't cancel the room and already had the time off work, so I knew I would be joining everyone supporting, if I didn't feel up to the race in time...

Race Bib collected 

As my running has been less, but with more walking, strength training and cross training still in the legs, I figured it be safe to tag along with my close buddies Steve and Nick. 

Nick ran last year and with a GPS device. This would be myself and Steve's first LL50 for the practice and to take in all the sightseeing. 

We are looking forward to the adventure that is ahead...

Weight recorded and Dibber attached at the ready

After I check into the Waterhead Hotel at Conniston Water. I meet up with Tina, Tracy, Steve and Nick. They already registered at the school earlier so it was just my turn now. 

I struggle to squeeze everything required into my Inov8 Race Ultra 10, but will figure it out, race ready this evening. I just needed to show all kit for my number collection. 

The walk is beautiful along the waterside, tranquil and calming. This gives us a chance to all catch up. The weather is glorious and feels like a perfect spring day. 

A nice breeze is felt through the valley and it looks to be perfect conditions for the 100 mile runners this evening. 

Lakeland 100 Start John Ruskin School

We walk through the campsite and bump into Graham, Nici and Jacqui who have set up camp tonight. It is wonderful to see all the friendly and excited faces. Nici reminds us that we will NOT be dissapointed with the Lakes and what is to come!

I make my way to the line for race registration and kit check. After emergency numbers checked, then all the mandatory kit, I collect my race pack and dib chip that is attatched my wrist. The envelope includes, a buff, course map, road book directions, race bib and some electrolyte powders. 

I then have my weight checked and recorded on my wrist. This is a medical requirement if any of us get into bother and sickness during the event. 

18:30 The 100 Miler starting 

We still have some time to relax and mingle with all the other runners. Tracy and David arrive ready for the 100 start. 

He seems edgy, nervous and looks ready to start right now...

I stroll the village in Conniston with Nick and admire all the quaint scenery,  thinking of our day tomorrow.

450 Ultra Runners embark on the 100!

We wish David the best then find a spot up the road so to catch the race start. Families and friends soon find a space on both sides of the road. A warm air of excitement and anticipation can be felt amongst us all...

The race starts and 450 ultra runners come full throttle up the road with huge grins on their faces. Bells ring and everyone is either clapping or taking pictures. 

This truly is a magical moment for Conniston and feels so special...

Selfies at the Hotel. The night before. Tim, Tracy, Steve and Nick

Soon enough the last few runners trickle past and we watched the last turn the corner before heading off to the pub to try to get a bite. 

After dinner we stroll back to the Hotel and order some drinks from the bar. 

Kit Checking and Packing before bed

Although it is breezy and starts to get chilly it is still a lovely evening outside. We admire the mountain views and enjoy the red wine...

We have to remind ourselves that we are running tomorrow and need to prep our backpacks and race kit ready...

We don't want the evening to end, it is just too perfect outside! 

We eventually bid each other good night and head upstairs to retire.

Morning nerves as we walk to Conniston village for the Race briefing 

After a small measure of Bulletproof Coffee and triple check I have packed all my mandatory kit, we set off for 08:10. We take the leisurely footpath around the waterside to the School. 

Tina and Tracy are driving to the start at Dalemain Estate. This will also be the halfway point for all the 100 runners that started last night

Race Briefing 08:30

It is mostly cloudy at the moment with cool temperatures. It looks to warm up later with some possible sunny spells. 

After reaching the School, we all squeeze into the hall for the briefing. Already plenty of runners are seated on the floor with a sense of calm and happiness among us all. 

Crucial details and reminded the amazing amount money raised

Marc one of the organisers gives a fun chat, adding humour to the group, complete with hilarious props to add to the mood. It stops any nerves we may have had already..

His words 'your goal should be to start and finish' and then 'forget the watch today' are a perfect choice of words, just what I like to hear when I am not ready or have any desire to race hard today!  

Dalemain Lakeland 50 Start

Once the briefing is finished we all head outside to the carpark to board the coaches. There is plenty to go around and the short line soon disappears. 

The journey should take about an hour, but with slow traffic and narrow winding roads mostly uphill we arrive an hour and thirty minutes later. 

Sussex Boys

We still have plenty of time until the start at 11:30. It isn't long before we find Tina and Tracy. David has already been through halfway and is still upbeat and fresh. 

A last few pictures before we get ready in the starting pen.

Runners flock to the starting area

We catch up with Jacqui and Nici before the go and all set off to a massive roaring cheer from all the spectators watching.

The grass is thick and lumpy around the Estate. Runners are allowed to have family and friends run along side them. 

Found the lovely Jacqui and Nici. Selfie time

This is only for the first four miles in Dalemain, after this we are all on our own!

The route is rolling over the grass, so most of us power walk until reaching tracks and footpaths a few miles later.

The four mile starting lap at Dalemain Estate

Steve and Nick stick close by within a few feet or so, even if I go up ahead. I purposely avoid looking at the Garmin and move on feel and to stay with them.

Soon enough we reach cheering and other 100 mile runners as they make it into Dalemain. 

Probably the softest part of the entire route

We pass through the checkpoint to huge crowds and cheer before the route really starts...

First up it is to Pooley Bridge...

Elder Beck after Pooley Bridge

Just six miles in covering woodlands, open fields and farm lands the views are already stunning. The sun is breaking through and everyone has come out to see all of us running.

We cross Pooley Bridge along the main road as the footbridge was damaged in floods. 

Through the village then up a steep lane before meeting the trail at Elder Beck. 

Long Crag heading to Howtown Mile 9

Once after seven miles and climbing up Elder Beck the field starts to eventually spread out. There is a more comfortable gap between everyone. 

The sun is strong but the breeze is sweeping in as we climb...

The boys have huge permanent grins on their faces. The views down to the lake as we go higher are beautiful.

Auterstone Crag heading to Howtown

The miles over Long Crag, Auterstone Crag and into Howtown just tick by so quickly. 

I get a little ahead of myself so keep stopping to admire the scenery.

I am enjoying every minute of this...

Howtown friendly cows

It's not long after meeting the top of the track then it heads narrow and winding back down along the ridge and into the trees. 

We reach more supporters and I can see Tina and Tracy. They are waiting near some very pretty cows for us. They joke with me if I've already got bored of the boys! 

They come on by soon enough and we all run into checkpoint one together 

Howtown. Checkpoint One in 2hr 13min

Just passed ten miles in. 

Every checkpoint has a theme, Howtown is Cowboy Western. We dib our dibbers to register us arriving here and refill on water. I am not overly hungry yet and just nibble on some salted peanuts. 

This is a Chia Charge stop so everything is oat based or with too much sugar for my stomach to handle this early in the event. 

I have a shot of olive oil that I always carry on me. Then take a hot coffee in my portable cup with me as we exit.

Starting towards Fusedale

Once the boys are ready and refilled we head on out then wave goodbye to Tina and Tracy waiting by the road.

We soon approach the first battle to climb. Fusedale is one that just continues and continues without any end. The path is hidden through a valley of lush green mountains.

Fusedale to High Kop

The jog we started doesn't last long and soon enough we power walk and hike up towards High Kop. The poles are out for the boys, I just use my knees if and when. 

Taking in Fusedale

We keep the conversation going chatting amongst ourselves and other runners along the climb. 

We keep looking back at the incredible view the higher we climb...

Still climbing Fusedale...

Steve is very happy filming with his GoPro throughout the hike up. 

There is even a supporter out here half way. She has displayed balloons with words of encouragement and fun phrases to keep us smiling. 

One thing we always say to each other...

It's those little things that make a huge difference...

The best has to be 'Don't Be Shit', which we often use for each other before a race! 


Nick is chatting to a chap who then looks at me and says 'your Luke Ashton, shouldn't you be ahead, you usually always ahead of me' as he laughs.

Nick sighs 'can't take him anywhere' 

I reply 'these are my GPS trackers for practice!'

Reaching High Kop

One of those funny moments... which distracted us from the high elevation, just for a few moments atleast. 

Soon enough the runners weave around and up high to Wether Hill at the top of High Kop.

Runners in groups make it to the top

The sights ahead are amazing. You can see for miles all around. Other runners stop for a breath, something to eat and drink. We settle for a selfie and Steve takes more GoPro footage...

I munch on a babybel cheese and have some my trail mix (pine nuts, pistachio, cashews)

We start our run across High Kop and head down towards Low Kop where the track will lead down to Fordingdale Bottom and follow the Lakeside ridges until reaching the next checkpoint.

Wether Hill High Kop 

The sun pops out and the breeze is welcoming behind us as we gradually head down over the squidgy bogs and long grass. 

I follow the other runners ahead who point out the large stone markers to take the track down to our right. 

High Kop 

The track narrows and becomes tight and rocky below. We weave around shrubs and foliage as the path becomes steep and very rugged. 

Heading from High Kop to Low Kop (Bampton Common)

A few runners trip and Steve slips behind me down a large stepping stone. 

He is ok just frustrated how technical it is all a sudden...

Fordingdale Bottom and fresh water

Once down by a bridge, I can see a lady collecting water in her carry bottle. 

I tell her how clear it looks, she replies 'it is so clean, you can't get any cleaner than this!'

Sandhill knotts along the ridges

Whilst the boys are a few moments behind, I take the opportunity to have a cup. It's so cooling and fresh. Once Steve comes over the bridge I ask him to refill while he is here as it is getting warmer now. 

Haweswater Laythwaite Crags

'It is safe to drink?' he asks... Myself and Nick just laugh and tell him it's as pure as your going to get high up here! Nothing can contaminate the water

Heading to Mardale Head

We carry on along the trails, covered by sheltered trees along the ridge. The track is very narrow with large stones sticking out of place. It is very technical to navigate your feet, but we manage to pick up some pace along this flatter section.

Steve takes another tumble further ahead and slides down the bank, grabbing onto anything he can to stop him from falling down any further....

Haweswater Mile 19 looking to The Rigg

He says nothing... just throws up his free hand for help! It takes quite an effort for both of us to haul him back onto the track. 

He is ok and luckily no blood or breaks...

I take off my cap too cool off my head a moment and let the sun on my face. 

Mardale Head. Checkpoint Two in 5hr 18min

The view across the lake is stunning and especially now the sun is out...

We can hear and then see supporters and the checkpoint right over the other side of the lake. It is not long before we make our way around and dib our dibbers for the second time. 

The theme here is Sparta! 

We have reached 20 miles of the route. 

Gatesgarth Beck

I have a few cups of water from the massive watering bins and then go get a black coffee. 

There is vegetable soup on offer here but it is the packet kind so I give it a miss...

Plenty of sandwiches on offer and bags of sweets to take with you. 

Gatesgarth Beck

I settle for some olives I have on me. Those handy packet packs come in handy for my backpack. I find a peanut butter sachet I have, so squeeze out the butter as the boys tuck into sandwiches.

After a water refill we make our way out on the steep rocky climb up Gatesgarth Beck. 

The Saddle to Sadgill

The poles are out again as we march up the steep track. 

The wind is picking up but we get so warm climbing we do not need another layer just yet...

The Sadgil Track 

Nick gives us a heads up that the track once over the top is quite a nice and runnable terrian towards Sadgil. This pushes me on to climb quicker and once I have absorbed the fantastic view I can see the track winding down through the valley.

It looks like there is a river much further through...

Looking behind on the Sadgil Track

The boys catch a breath then we make our way down the long track. It goes along a fair few miles and I take the time to refill more water at the fresh stream. 

The field is less and we have all spread out into our own comfortable pace. 

Everyone is doing great and feeling good. The friendly vibe is comforting whilst we are among these huge mountains. 

We all look so small when you turn back to look...

Fresh running taps along the way...

I really enjoy the downhill and flat miles and get a little carried away forgetting the boys for a moment. I soon slow up when reaching a bridge and keep an eye on the girls infront who seem to look quite familiar with the route and have not looked at a map once yet. 

I take the track they do and head up to a small farm and gate. 

More Sadgil Track 

I wait here until I spot the boys coming down the track. They are both in red tops so it is quite easy to spot them...

They call back a runner who keeps on forward down the Sadgil track. He should be heading over the bridge.

Heading up to Kentmere

Once they reach me we catch up and I ask Nick how Steve is. He says his knee is nagging but it hasn't stopped him running, so that is good news. Nick looks like he has just been for a stroll around the park. However, Steve is looking a little more worn.

Then this is his hardest challenge climbing with this type of terrain before.

With us both, he has this and we plan on only finishing all together.

Contrasting Trees, Rocks and Mountains

We follow the next sharp climb up the cobbled track that heads into Kentmere. We have just gone over halfway into the route and doing well, plenty of daylight left still....

It is 7pm now so a few more hours until headtorches required.

Ultra Men Nick and Steve as we reach halfway

The climb isn't very long before we head onto flat again and then meet a narrow lane. The road leads along beautiful views of rolling greens at Sallow looking to Kenmore.

Kentmere lush greens looking to Sallow

We eventually meet a road of tarmac and head on down into Kentmere. The footpath is to the right over a high stoned wall. The steps up are built into the wall. It is like something out of the Stardust film. We climb up and over, then soon enough through a paddock another wall is on the other side. 

Up and over then down the road and to the village hall for the third checkpoint...

Stone steps over the wall at Kentmere

We have reached 26.5 miles on the course now. 

The theme here is of Harry Potter. Many of the volunteers are dressed as characters. It is a nice touch to an indoor check point. 

I have some water and then nibble on a few jelly babies. I add a splash of coke to my water for taste and some sweet. 

Kentmere Village. Checkpoint Three in 7hr 40min

The boys tuck into some of the food that is on offer. I am a bit stuck here as no nuts, and all the savoury is grains or wheat based, which I cannot stomach when running. I make do with a babybel I have on me and some more of my olives. 

I use one of the salt sachets to sprinkle and lick from my hand. I havn't been overly sweating but the last leg got quite warm.

Still loving it

Steve had a fresh smoothie that a Witch was making. It looked great but too heavy and sweet for just now. I suffer bad GI distress and learnt the hard way what I can and cannot eat when doing Ultra. 

It would be great at the finish but just not for now...

Steve still smiling

The guys are keen to keep on moving as daylight is against us now and we should reach Ambleside by dark if we move quicker.

They are all ready and we head on up the lane and back onto a track to the hills

Happy Nick 

The track soon meets rubble and slated stones. We cannot run for long as it is tough navigating over them safely and without tripping over.

Many stones and rocky tracks are the theme today!

The rocky track leads steep up towards Troutbeck. The poles are out again and the guys are on a mission!

More sharp climbing at Troutbeck

The breeze has eased off and we are left with evening sunshine but cooler temperatures. It is perfect weather right now.

Troutbeck Paths

It is not long before we reach higher grounds and the track leads down again alongside a wall. The slate is sharp and rutted. It jags upwards in places and it is hard to find an easy spot to run on. 

Heading to Ambleside before dark

I take to the edges nearer the wall as there are some grassy patches to the ground. Few and far between but much safer than the middle and risking turning my ankle or falling. 

The guys are taking it extra cautiously down here, I can see the sheer concentration on Steve's face where he places his feet.

This sharp slated track feels forever before it eases off and becomes more gravel and grassy. 

Sundown at Ambleside

We head through a small village and catch up with David who is 80 miles into his 100! He seems very exhausted and fatigued. He is walking slowly with his poles and says he is struggling to eat much. 

The guys catch up with him and to my surprise Tracy and Tina have popped by to give support and check up on him. 

I tell Tracy she will need to do everything she can to make sure he eats at Ambleside. 

No outside assistance is allowed but very well chosen words should do the trick. She has powers of persausion I am sure of it!

We thank them for stopping by and make our way up the next climb...

Pink sky over Lakeland

The sky is turning dusk quickly and it has gone from pink hues to purple and grey in a matter of thirty minutes.

The lake appears into view and we can see into the bay of Ambleside. The path winds through woodland and down steep tree rooted tracks, before finally meeting a small narrow lane that leads down into town.

Ambleside. Checkpoint Four in 10hours

It is just getting dark now, but not so much that we need lights to see the road. It is quite lit up enough and we soon meet houses, pubs and shops. 

All the town has come out the pubs to cheer all the runners along. We run straight on through the high street to huge cheering and support...

We reach Ambleside checkpoint in ten hours at 21:30

Just in time to get headlights out and on, change of top for the cooler night and a hot drink. I nibble on my trail mix and refill my bladder in my pack. 

The area is very crowded so I go to the nearby toilets to change my tee into a long sleeve and get a skull cap on my head. 

The boys are ready to get moving again. Tina is here to get pictures and check on our progress so far. 

Steve is in much better spirits now he has had a hot cuppa. I take a coffee with me in my cup.

Mile 45. Near Little Langdale. Ladder up and over the stoned wall. Two of these...

We enjoy some flatter and dark paths through woods and along riverbanks. We manage to pick up some pace here and make it to Chapel Stile, the next checkpoint in less than two hours...

We are at 40 miles now. This checkpoint is near a camping site so is under a marquee. It is probably the only checkpoint where I have seen couch sofas in place! 

I tell the boys to maybe sit on the wooden chairs...

I am pleased to find tinned big soup served here, so get stuck into beef broth with chunky vegetable. I have some coffee. I was starting to get bored with olive oil and nuts, so the hot soup perked me up. 

The night is not too cold and just feels damp but fresh. 

Admiring the stream of headlights at Wrynose

We make our way back out into the darkness and follow the other headlights dotted away infront of us. 

I take a moment to see that the clouds have dispersed to show an array of twinkling stars above. They are so bright in places that the outline of the mountains can be seen on the horizon. 

It is stunning...

Dibber at Tiberthwaite on way to last checkpoint...

There are some boggy parts in places, once we are high up again. The path is just navigating across and around large stone boulders in the hope we don't slip down the sheer drop next to us...

It is a tricky display of paths over streams and rocks, but we knuckle on down and soon enough we make it into Tiberthwaite were we dib our dibbers at a gate by a wall. 

I remember now in the briefing that this is the non-manned checkpoint we need to dib at. 

The guys are not too far behind me, I stay close to a group of ladies who have been grouped together on and off for most the evening. One of them, Di has run this route before and is confident of the way to go. 

It is not often anyone needs to refer to the road book or Lakeland map.

The climb of death! The actual path up and over this Boulder of rock!

After a long road and passing farmhouses and cottages we reach the last and final checkpoint. 

14hrs and 23min has passed and we have just four miles until reaching the finish, back in Conniston...

Steve is tired and wants to finish, Nick seems frustrated and just wants the last climb over with. I wasn't aware of anymore climbing, but then what would I know, I have never yet run around the Lakes and up mountains! 

I have a black tea as I am charged enough from coffee. The helpful lady volunteer lets me have some slices of cheese as I explain I can't eat the wheat. She tells me, had I asked at the other checkpoints, they could have done the same, no problems. 

I just thought all the sandwiches were made, so didn't like to ask. I know for next time...

I can see lanterns dotted up steps to the next mountain and they go a long way up. This looks to be a long section of climbing upon us! 

Nick is ready. We thank everyone and start the steps, then the rocky track that leads up high. The elevation change is quick, sharp and so steep. A good thousand atleast...

My legs are fatigued but nothing I am not used to. To be honest they feel like they getting a perfect warm up session and I feel strong that I could carry on until the morning.

The path looks dark and as if it ends, there is no other way around but up and over a great rocky wall. We have to actually go up and rock climb over to meet the footpath. It is hard to scramble and grip to get up, but we all, like a miracle manage somehow to make it over. 

The path leads up and up again, until finally navigating down and over small slate and boulders to a quarry. 

I see other runners splitting in different directions to meet the tracked road below. I go with my judgement but probably been best to wait as the guys soon come along the ridge to my left cutting across. 

They had stayed on track... I didn't. 

Finished in 15hr 55min in 442nd

The track leads steep back down, passing woods and then slowly approaching street lights and houses. My Garmin looks to have gone over slightly but we should almost be into Conniston. 

Steve gets his GoPro at the ready and we run together down the lane and through Conniston Village. Pass The Bull where we eat dinner, down the final road and into the school. 

We made it, dibbers dipped and scanned. Finished. It is 03:25 and we reached in just under 16 hours. 

The goal was to finish and we did. Adventure completed! 

Checkpoint Times

We walk into the school to a huge roaring cheer and claps from all the other runners, family and friends here. We collect our medals and finishing tees. 

Tracy and Tina are here to greet us and ask Steve will he be running this again?!

It is a firm and sharp... NO NEVER EVER AGAIN!

Lakeland 50 Route

Graham has come to meet us too. He sadly didn't make it all the way on his 100 adventure. 

Jacqui is here looking really fresh still. She really enjoyed her race, even if she did suffer some. Nici is still out but wont be too long now to the finish.

I get a coffee and Tracy gets us all ice-cream. We relive our adventure over the past day and how amazing we feel that it is complete. It all feels quite surreal that it actually happened...

My body feels strong and as if I could carry on and run further. This is a good indication for my training, or lack of it lately. It is a good sign of knowing I could cope, perhaps in going a little quicker and maybe the 100 one day...

I shall see. The ankles are tight but I am in no discomfort or pain which is nice to know.

Elevation and Temperature changes

It is not too long before David makes his way in and finishes the 100! 

He is a legend for sticking it out and turning things around. When I saw him earlier he was not in a good place and I was worried his mind and body would give up. 

It made us all so happy to see him actually slog through and make it back to the finish. 

That is two finishes for him now! 

After much needed sleep time to cool teh feet

It is a lovely fresh morning and dawn is here. The light is coming up so I walk back to the BB with Nick, by the waterside, while everyone else goes in the car. 

I make a hot chocolate once back in my room and suddenly tiredness sets in and I am ready to crash!

Perfect recovery and no blisters!

As I have the long drive back home tonight, I catch up on sleep and get up around 4pm. I take a short walk to the Lake and dip my feet in the cool water. 

It is so refreshing and soothing. My feet feel lighter already when I walk back to the Hotel. 

We meet in the bar then stroll to The Bull pub where we have a table booked. We celebrate our adventures and thank everyone for all the amazing support and time spent waiting on us runners. 

I am quite sad to be leaving so soon, but I have the night shift tomorrow so figured if I get back in the wee hours I can sleep all day fresh for work! 

Steve and myself, first time finishers and two second finishers for Nick (50) and David (100)

I am looking forward to returning to the Lakes again for more adventures and to the Monane Lakeland event to run.

I couldn't have done this as enjoyably all alone and it made it all the more special with Steve and Nick for the adventure!

We are Lakeland Family now!...

Ultra Luke

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