There were a couple of tales to be told from the Lakeland 100 - one from the briefing and one from the race itself that I did not hear about till after the event:
The anthem of the Lakeland 100 event is the operatic standard ‘Nessum Dorma’ - most famous here in Britain for being sung during the 1990 world cup by Luciano Pavarotti, but in this case sung by Paul Potts.
When people race stupidly long distances of 100 miles or longer that involve running through the night eschewing sleep and rest for longer than 24 hours they become prone to having hallucinations, which was thought to have been the case of one runner on the Lakeland 100 when he was descending Blencathra in the fog of dawn having run through the night.
Enveloped in the all shrouding murk with sight diminished his hearing was all the more sensitive and over the silence dampened by the fog he could swear he heard some singing, a singing that was slowly getting louder… Soon the singing could be recognised as the song Nessum Dorma, then all of a sudden out of the gloom appeared Paul Potts jogging down off the mountain singing at full volume, running past then disappearing back in to the gloom, the singing slowly fading away.
After finishing he went to the organiser and told them what he saw, only to be roundly dismissed as suffering an hallucination, which let’s face it appears very real at the time… But the runner was incredibly insistent that it really happened, so much that a couple of days after the race the organiser opened twitter and messaged Paul Potts. Asking him if he had been out in the lakes at dawn on the morning in question he thought nothing of it until a couple of weeks later, when Paul Potts sent him a reply saying that yes he had been out in the lakes and he enjoys getting out in remote places early in the morning for a good jog and practice his singing as he goes without troubling anyone!
With Paul Potts last year, Mel Giedroyc this year, it makes you wonder what ‘C’ list or lower celebrity will be out on the course next time!
The route for the Lakeland 100 is 95% on trail, be it over moor or field. The one thing in common is the open nature of it where at any one point you seem to never be more than a few metres from a sheep or some other livestock, which includes cows, and in this case big hairy cows with mahoosive horns!
On the way from the self-clip checkpoint to the final aid-station at Tilberthwaite in the pitch darkness at 1am I was in a steeply sloping field from left up to the right with the stony farmers track we were traversing the only level surface. We were also amongst a herd of Highland cows who were either lying sleeping or standing and chewing away bemusedly, their eyes reflecting back in the torchlight of us runners, their coats glistening with the gathering dew on them.
I thought nothing more of this other than mentally noting the sight, the same could not be said of a lady who was about 15 minutes behind me.
As she entered the field, she saw in front of her a lovely little Highland calf wander up off the slop onto the track in front of her and stop… She then sensed something behind her and saw the mother walking on to the track behind her. The mother then realised there was a human between her and her calf, so she lowered her well horned head and charged the lady, connecting with her and tossing her about 20 feet forward and up on to the bank on the right!
Even in the darkness at this time of night, the field of runners is still fairly tight and just behind witnessing the event was a group of other runners who themselves hurried at the cow who now safely reunited with her calf trotted away from the on-rushers back off to the side. Tending to the lady who was on the bank on the right of the trail, apart from a bit of shock and winded from the unexpected flight and landing, fortunately she felt fine.
These runners accompanied her the last mile or so in to the aid station at Tilberthwaite and relayed the tale to the marshals who made the decision on the spot to hook the lady from the race and get her to hospital even though she felt fine.
The reason was based on safety as the last 4 miles are up a steep climb on to a remote moor with an equally steep descent through a quarry, so once you leave the aid station you are in a very remote spot that will require mountain rescue to get you down from in an emergency, so if there was any risk of internal injury that might not be apparent now, such as a ruptured spleen, it could manifest whilst up there which would have put the life of the runner at risk plus those of the mountain rescue sent up there. A sensible decision as much as it was frustrating for the lady in question; having got to within 4 miles of the finish well within time for the organisers to pull her from the race and she was taken to the nearest A&E to be checked-out.
Mercifully she was absolutely fine but no longer in the race. After the event, taking pity upon her and her predicament, the organisers gave her a finishers tee and in doing so made her the only person to have ever been awarded one without having crossed the line as it was the organisers who hooked her so close to the finish!
I wonder what tales will be told from future races?