Lakes in a Day has a lovely atmosphere. For me, that’s one of the most important things when choosing a race. From the registration, to the checkpoint staff, to the finishing hall, everyone was so friendly.”
Jasmin Paris (female winner, Lakes in a Day 2022)
I’m a mountain-loving fell runner, mum of two young children, and small animal vet. In the context of running, I particularly enjoy longer races, and those with technical terrain. I’m probably best known for winning the Montane Spine Race outright in 2019, as well as running a ‘Fun Run’ at Barkley in 2022, and setting records in the three UK 24-hour running challenges in 2016.
I entered Lakes in a Day in 2020, but due to COVID19, it wasn’t until this year that I got to race. Back then my son would have been very young (only a few months old!), so my plan was to use the race as a motivator and challenge, aiming to complete rather than compete, taking my time and stopping to breastfeed my son at checkpoints along the way. Looking back now it was probably better for me that I had to wait, I’m not sure I’d have been ready emotionally or physically to take the race on when he was still so little.
My ‘A’ race this year was UTMB, so I trained hard for that (we took a month of holiday in July, and spent a few weeks training in the Alps), and was happy with my fitness at the end of August. Whilst that race didn’t work out for me, I was able to carry the benefits of that training forwards and into LIAD.
I generally try to eat some extra carbs in the couple of days leading up to a long race. Race day breakfast is usually porridge – for LIAD I travelled down from Scotland with a couple of friends on the morning of the race, so I also had a bagel with honey nearer the start time, given that breakfast had been so early.
Lakes in a Day has a lovely atmosphere. For me, that’s one of the most important things when choosing a race. From the registration, to the checkpoint staff, to the finishing hall, everyone was so friendly. In addition to the atmosphere, I loved the first half of the race, from Caldbeck to Ambleside. The route is beautiful and includes some of my favourite parts of the Lake District.
The food at the checkpoints on LIAD was amazing, my only regret is that I didn’t spend longer at the checkpoints to be able to enjoy more of it! From baguettes and hot pizza to rice pudding and cake, there was a huge variety on offer, and all dietary requirements were catered for. I especially enjoyed my cup of tea at the checkpoint in Ambleside!
I really enjoyed the section over Blencathra in the early morning, as well as the run along the Helvellyn Ridge, and from Fairfield down to Ambleside. Another particularly memorable moment was towards the end, as I covered the last section of hills, in spectacular evening light. For me the hardest parts of the race were definitely the road sections in the second half. Mentally, I find it so much harder running on a road than up a hill.
My advice to anybody thinking about entering would be just to enter (that will serve as motivation for training!), and then try to get out for some long hill days, either walking or running, and involve some navigation. You could even get a friend to sign up and keep each other company in training.
My biggest tip would be to keep eating – you can’t run a motor without fuel. Whenever I feel things are going badly during a race, I try to ask myself when I last ate, and whether I need to put more clothes on, since I know that energy and warmth play a huge role in determining my mood. The most important bit of kit for me is generally my shoes. For LIAD I wore fell shoes with fairly aggressive grip (Inov-8 Mudclaws) for the first half, then swapped to trail shoes for the less technical, second half.
I think LIAD would make a very good introductory hill running ultra for most people, given how friendly and welcoming it is, and how good the support is at the checkpoints. My opinion on ultra-running is that half of the battle is mental rather than physical, although a good basic level of hill walking fitness is probably essential. I also feel strongly that anyone competing in a hill event should be capable of navigating, at least to a level that will keep them out of danger.
You really feel the community spirit and camaraderie at LIAD. Both in terms of the team involved in setting up the event, but also in terms of the competitors. I think LIAD has the feel of a challenge, rather than a race, which is nice. It lends itself well to making friends, and sharing experiences of a journey, rather than seeing other competitors as rivals.ENTER LAKES IN A DAY 2023