Lake District 50K Ultra Challenge result and report by Vicky Hawkins

Race Date: Saturday 8th June 2024

I think I’ve only ever done 1 race report before in 12 years of being a SCS member but that’s probably more down to the fact that I don’t race much than not volunteering to write one!

Nick Burns asked me to write this because in his words ‘you’ve a story to tell’ so I agreed to tell it. A few of you may already have heard this but here goes for the rest of you.

In true Laura Rangeley style ( the queen of race reports) I suggest you make a brew cause this could take a while.

A few of you will know me as one of the regular coaches at Millhouses speed sessions on a Tuesday night but as I’ve not attended any of the other evenings for a while most of you won’t have a clue who I am, sorry!!

As I said I’m not one for doing many races anymore, I spend most of my running up to my knees in mud with a headtorch on my head scampering through the Peaks at night with a group of fellow nutters called Unofficial Head Torch Group (UHTG) you may well have heard about us and we even have our own kit!

One day, probably after a few beers we started chatting about doing something a bit different, maybe a longer run, maybe an ultra. To be fair this was actually my suggestion and the guys just went along with the idea, more fool them!! I should probably mention at this point that I have always been adamant that I would never run a marathon and would never have the drive to commit to training for one. So what on earth possessed me to suggest an ultra I have no idea!!!!

Before we knew it we had entered a 50k ultra on 23rd September 2023 in the Chilterns run by Action Challenge and so the training began.

My longest run to date at that point was RSR years ago where I was dragged round by Laura Fletcher and hated every step of it (sorry Laura !!) and vowed never to run that far again but somehow I found myself looking forward to the long runs on Saturday mornings, hours spent on my legs in the most beautiful places with the best of company. Learning to walk the hills, jog the flats, run the downs and fuel on the move. The training went well and I felt fitter than I ever had in my entire life and soon it was race week.

We travelled down to High Wycombe, checked in to Premier Inn and registered at race headquarters, all was going to plan at this point. Food was the next agenda and we agreed to treat ourselves to a happy meal in Wetherspoons and that’s where it all gets a bit messy.

Having just finished my last mouthful of pudding ( cookie dough ice cream thing, so nice !!) my heart decided to stop working and I passed out face first on to the table. From then on I owe my life to the guys who were with me : Craig Baird, Paul Smith, Mark Platton and Lee Mills who’s fast actions in calling an ambulance to get me the help I needed and to our incredible NHS who worked on me in the ambulance for nearly 2 hours where I flat lined and had CPR. I was then driven blue lights and sirens at 115mph, gutted I missed that bit, to Oxford’s John Radcliffe hospital where I was put on an external pacing machine that electric shocked my heart to keep it beating but failed at 8am when I needed resuscitation again resulting in an emergency Pacemaker being fitted at the time I should have been running my ultra.mNot exactly the weekend we had planned but hey it was a blast!!

Fast forward to now and having been discharged by my surgeon with orders to get back out running asap, I went a week later much to the horror of my family and friends but I’m known for my stubbornness!!

Running again was scary and didn’t come without its challenges mainly mental, confidence issues but the more I pushed myself the more confident I became and the desire to book another ultra grew stronger. I just had to convince my running buddies that I wouldn’t die on them this time.

Action Challenge had given us all a full refund for the race and a guaranteed free place at any of their events this year so we picked one in the Lakes running from Kendal to Lakeside, training began again and the long runs started building up seeing me tick off my bucket list race the Grindleford Gallop and enjoying time in my favourite place the Lake District.

Race day all to quickly arrived and I didn’t feel anywhere near as ready as last year but I was more determined to prove to myself I could do it.

Unfortunately not all of the original group could run it but on 8th June,  Craig, Andy Green, Lee and myself set off to complete it. Mark came to support us and for the fun of seeing us suffer I think!

I’m not sure how ultras are meant to go but I loved every minute of it and at no point did I feel I couldn’t finish it. It was incredibly well organised and run very smoothly. The course was a lovely mixture of trail, fields, some awesome big climbs and a bit of the horrid tarmac stuff but well flagged so no navigation was needed, phew! The aid stations were brilliant and I actually didn’t want to leave the one at mile 6 it had a full bakery!

Ambleside aid station at 29k was just over half way where Mark and Amy Duck met us. We had a quick change of t-shirts and socks as the weather had got a bit warm, we had started out in a damp drizzle so the heat took us by surprise, picked up a packed lunch and continued on. The only bit that drained me was the long flat trail alongside Windermere which seemed to go on forever but I’d saved a marmite sandwich for such an emergency and it did the trick to pick me back up and I found I was looking forward to the last 2 short but steep climbs in to Lakeside.

The remaining few miles were fun but tricky narrow woodland paths that twisted and turned and we passed a good few runners who found this last bit having to concentrate and pick your feet up higher exhausting. With just under a mile to go around a corner there was Mark, Amy and Betty dog to cheer us in and run the last bit with us. The welcome at the finish made a perfect ending and I admit there were a few tears. Food and a free post run massagecomplete with a well deserved medal and t-shirt and it was done

Needless to say we hit the town that evening and a fair amount of food with a few fizzy sherberts were consumed.

It’s taken a year from start to finish to complete my first ultra and its been one hell of a ride. Thank you to my running buddies for their continuous support who helped make my dream a reality.

Onwards and upwards to the next crazy idea and definitely another ultra. So if anyone who managed to get to the end of this small novel has any doubts in themselves that they are capable enough, fit enough, strong enough or brave enough to follow your dream??

I say go for it. This girl did !!!! ‍♀️

The male event was won by Alex Campbell in 5.18.45. The female event was won by Lorna Askew in 6.04.01

Pos Name Cat Time
40 Andy Green Male 6.51.24
51 Vicky Hawkins Female 7.12.57
53 Lee Mills Male 7.13.41

Full results: here

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