The Montane® Lakeland 50 & 100 – Marcus Scotney’s Top Tips

The Ultra Tour of The Lake District otherwise known as the Montane® Lakeland 50/100 is the premier ultra running event in the UK, hosted in (you may have guessed it) the fells of the Lake District National Park. Occurring this year over the weekend of the 24th to 26th July, it promises to test the limits of all who take in this most British of challenges.

Image © Montane and Ian Corless

The 100

The 100 mile race, with 6300 meters of ascent, forms a circular route from Coniston taking in areas such as Seathwaite, Wasdale, Braithwate, Blencathra, Dalemain, Mardale, Kentmere and Ambleside. Rather than tackling the famous peaks, the route meanders through the valleys, contouring the fell side. The maximum time permitted for competitors is 40 hours, with winners expected to cross the finish line in Coniston in around 23 hours. A non stop race, checkpoints exist for safety and though people may opt to sleep, the clock is always ticking. There are 14 manned checkpoints, which provide food and drink, along with keeping an eye on where competitors have got to.Image © Montane and Ian Corless

Taken from the Lakeland 100 website they are quoted saying “The climb, descent, rugged terrain, darkness and tricky navigation generally ensure a 50-60% failure rate over the 100 mile course. Seasoned ultra runners have tried and many have failed, a finisher’s medal in the Lakeland 100 is possibly one of the most treasured possessions you will ever receive.”

So, do you fancy it?Image © Montane and Ian Corless

The 50

The 50 mile race starts at Dalemain, finishing at Coniston. It is essentially the second half of the 100 mile race, and whereas 100 runners start at 6pm on the Friday, 50 mile racers start at a more leisurely 11.30am on the Saturday. Those 50 miles have 3100 meters of ascent, so although it may have half of most things, the challenge is certainly not halved. 24 hours is the time limit with winners looking at going sub 8, however you have the option to walk the route. That is, if you can keep up the pace.

I’ll be taking on the 50 mile route this year, my first 50 mile race and of course you can expect a full report and perhaps a video if I’m not delerious. Image © Montane and Ian Corless

Marcus Scotney

Marcus Scotney, one of Britain’s foremost ultra runners, has experienced podium success on two occasions at the 50 mile distance and I was lucky enough to ask him about his experiences when he wasn’t training in the Peak District. A professional sports therapist and coach, his breadth and depth of knowledge is vast.Image © Montane and Ian Corless

Well, the forums are busy as we have 6 weeks out from the Lakeland 50 & 100. With this short space of time left, should runners be looking to do anything in particular in their training? 

Rest! It’s too late to start cramming training in. If they have been building their long runs up then the longest run of about 4-5hrs should be done in the next two weeks to allow 4 weeks to recover. It is also the last opportunity to test out the food and kit you plan to use in the event. It is worth writing down a tapering training program for the last two weeks before the event to stop any opportunity of over training so close to the event. I would recommended getting a sports massage leading up to the event, I’m not saying this because I’m a Sports Therapist but there are massive benefits to looking after the legs in the build up to such a big event.

With a second place at last years 50, you know a thing or two about keeping your fuel levels sufficient when vying for podium spots. For the average runner, is there optimum amount of calories they should be aiming to consume each hour?

Sports nutritionists recommend that runners should take on 300 calories every hour, but it’s not always easy to get that amount of calories in, so I always make sure I eat every 45mins and drink every 15mins.

I also tend to take a gel just as I get into a checkpoint on the Lakeland 50 so I can bin the wrapper at the checkpoint and wash it down quickly whilst filling up my bottle.

Summer conditions still require a sizeable kit list, what are your favourite pieces of kit you don’t race without?

I’m always looking at keeping my kit to the lightest as possible, so I love my MONTANE® Minimus Smock. I also like to wear the VIA Visor when racing to keep the sun and sweat out of the eyes, and a MONTANE® VIA Chief are great to have as your hat as they are versatile. Image © Montane and Ian Corless

With so many runners, two races and supporters all camped together, are there any essential things to remember to prevent you getting lost in the moment, rather than concentrating on the task in hand?

Ear plugs if you are camping so you can get a good night’s sleep.

I’m a real geek when it comes to planning as well and create spreedsheets for the kit I will be using, pacing charts, and nutrition plans, which I use to help with my preperation leading up to the race and help keep me focused the night before the event.

There are many hills in the Lakes routes, what are your tips for making it up and down in one piece, without destroying your legs for the remainder of the run?

If only there was a magic pill to help with the uphills! Well I think there are but thankfully they are banned substances. Unfortunately the only way to make it easier is to do hill sessions or very hilly runs, it is worth spending some weekends leading up to the event training in hilly/mountainous areas trying to get as much ascent in.

Do a mixture of hill sessions as well, I have some of my coaching clients doing super hills or big hill sessions with a 7-15mins hill rep. These are not fast hill sessions, instead they focus on building up strength and endurance.

Learn to walk up hills. It is impossible to run up every hill on the Lakeland 50, so in training learn to walk up them and use this as an opportunity to eat and hydrate, then you should have strength for running down the hill the other side.

It is always worth looking at doing some strength and conditioning work to help strengthen your hip flexors and muscles to cope with the demands of the up and downs on the 100 and 50.

You could also consider using poles in the latter stages of an event as they can really help when the legs and hip flexors fatigue. However make sure you practice running with the poles in training and do some deltoid and bicep S&C work as using poles really makes them work!Image © Montane and Ian Corless

What is your favourite section of the course? 

I love the whole of the Lakeland 50 course; it has stunning views all the way along and covers some of the best trails and valleys in the Lakes. Though if I’m pushed to have to decide on one section then it has to be the section through the Langdales as it has such striking views of the Langdale fells and looking up the valley to Bowfell and Crinkle Crags on a clear day. It is always great to race along as well with the flat section of trail into Chapel Stile, where I caught Kim up last year and we raced each other until I blew up (see my race report on my website), and then the trail changes into undulating and rocky before a short steep climb up to Blisco Tar.

What makes the race special, what keeps you coming back for more?

It is such an iconic event, in an amazing location of the Lakes. The event is so well organised and supported by amazing marshals at checkpoints who do a fantastic job of supporting competitors. The event has an electrifying atmosphere making it so special…and the race briefing is like no other race briefing, you have to experience it to know what I mean but it is so inspirational for the competitors.

Of course the most important question is…. Are you racing this year and if so what do you feel your chances are of standing on the podium?

I am always confident on doing well. I have finished 3rd and 2nd and had a DNF on the Lakeland 50, so I know how easily the body can suddenly struggle or give up on such a tough course. I’m hoping to be in a better shape than last year when I finished 2nd as I had spent 4 nights in hospital in April with rhabdomyolysis (kidney failure) last year and had only started training for the Lakeland 50 at the end of May. Training this year has been going really well so I will be in great shape for a quality performance at the Lakeland 50. Image © Montane and Ian Corless

So, if you are full of intrigue there is plenty of time to look further. Both races are full and getting an entry is fierce. Normally opening in September, the race sells out in 10 minutes, so you’ll be camped by your computer pulling a sickie to get your spot. I know I will be taking quite a bit longer than Marus to get round (touch wood) as other than not being an internatinal elite ultra runner, my training hasn’t gone entirely to plan. But then again, how often does it?

Please can I offer the best of luck to Marcus in this years race and a mighty thank you for taking the time out to answer the questions. May I also thank Montane® for supplying the images and Ian Corless for taking them.

More information:

To find out more about the race please visit: http://www.lakeland100.com

To find out more about Marcus as an athlete & therapist: http://marcusscotney.com

To find out more about Montane®, British outdoor clothing brand and sponsor to both the race and Marcus, visit it: http://www.montane.co.uk

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