A Record Breaking Lakes In A Day
Lakes In A Day, the 50 ultra run which crosses the Lake District National Park from North to South took place over the weekend, with a record number of finishers, and a new men’s record time as well.
The record was taken by the Workington firefighter and international fell and trail runner Ricky Lightfoot, who set the new best time of 8 hours 47 minutes 07 seconds. It was a blistering performance, beating the existing record set in 2015 by 25 minutes, and finishing 45 minutes ahead of second placed runner Damian Hall. The final podium place was a surprise and impressive third place for Alastair Graves, in only his second ultra run.
In the women’s race the winner was Edinburgh runner Kathryn Campbell in 11.52.42, finishing ahead of Georgina Hinton Lewis, and Victoria Morris.
Lightfoot stayed ahead of the record time from the start at Caldbeck, crossing the summits of Blencathra, Hellvelyn and Fairfield on day when conditions were sometimes windy with showers, but mostly dry and certainly much better than the heavy rain of recent years.
At the finish Lightfoot said, “I was finding the last sections hard as I’d not taken enough food and the finish could not come soon enough.” He added, “I loved every minute of the racing, from the start only being a 25 minute drive from home, the descent of Halls Fell and the freezing wind and rain over Helvellyn and Fairfield, even the rocky, rooty overgrown single track along the shores of Windermere was beautiful at times.”
His record breaking run earned him a £2000 prize which has built up during the 4 years the record has remained unbeaten. Campbell’s winning time in the women’s race was outside last year’s record, so the prize for the women’s record will increase to £1000 next year and the men’s record prize will drop back to £500.
Of the 435 starters, including runners from 13 countries, 379 crossed the finish line to claim their medals, easily the highest number of finishers in the 6 year history of the race. Only an elite few could finish in the daylight before sunset on Saturday, and the majority reached Cartmel through the night and into the early hours of Sunday morning. Lightfoot commented, “I have the utmost respect for those that finished into the early hours and beyond. Running it in daylight hours was tough so I can’t imagine how tough it was in the dark!”
The top international finishers were Clarens Olsson of Sweden who finished 4th equal, and Anna Stopinska-Lewucha of Poland who finished in 12th place in the women’s race. Olsson was last year’s winner and came to defend his title but exhausted on the finish line said, “My big mistake of the day was to try and stay with the leaders and they were too fast!”
Most of those who took part were not concerned with winning or prizes of course, just finishing and doing their best, and in some case raising money for charity or proving to themselves and others what can be achieved with determination and preparation.
Among those were 14 with type 1 diabetes who stood on the start line, having been offered free entry and support by Open Adventure, whose Director James Thurlow has Type1 diabetes himself. 12 successfully crossed the finish line, with Alex Hill placing 12th overall, and Kel Richardson 38th in the women’s race.
Another athlete inspiring others with her performance and raising money for charity and was Fran Higgins, who is partially sighted and completed the course in 19 hours 34 minutes 10 seconds. She is raising money for the Henshaws charity which helps people with sight loss achieve their ambitions and go beyond expectations.
After the race she said, “Thank you to the organisers, marshals, the people I was lucky enough to run different sections with, and the people who sponsored the charity I was fundraising for! It’s an experience I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to take part in!”
The praise for the race organisation and marshalling was repeated by all of the competitors, who were looked after by a large team of marshals and safety staff, provided ample and varied food at 3 aid stations and the finish, and all carried personal trackers so the race, and their friends and loved ones at home, could follow their progress.
It is a standard of organisation which Open Adventure prides itself on and which sets their races and rides apart as marquee endurance events in the sporting calendar. Entries for the next ‘Lakes in a Day’ and the ‘Coast to Coast Northern Traverse’ are already open and filling fast.
There are photo galleries of all the competitors and a race video available on the Facebook page.