The food and organisation at LIAD is spot on. I think it’s nice that everyone camps together the night before. And the course is epic.  So many good views and varying scenery.”

Paul Haigh 
Age: 45

I’m a fell runner for Calder Valley Fell Runners who, post-lockdown, has gone further and further. I did my Bob Graham Round in May 2021 in 20h 10m. I then broke the double Yorkshire 3 peaks record in a time of 8h 52mins on July 21. I briefly held the Dales High Way record in 19h 30mins – I came 2nd in that 90 mile race but it was a staggered start – and was beaten by just 2 minutes!  In terms of other Ultra runs this year I’ve done the Calderdale Hike (37miles – I came 7th); and the Pennine 39 in which I came 6th.

It was in the Calder Valley Fell Runners Ultra Championships that I decided to do LIAD.  Dougie Zinis did it in 2018 and said how good it was so I thought it would be a fun day out trying to beat his time!

I generally train in 3 weeks blocks. For Lakes in a Day my 3 weeks blocks were 60m per week and 2 strength sessions working the glutes. In terms of weekly runs, I made sure I did 2 runs a week of over 13m, a hill rep session, and a speed session.

I was working the day before LIAD race day. I knew I needed a good meal inside me though so I stopped for Fish n’ Chips on the drive up the night before. I normally have 2 breakfasts a day so I pre-made overnight oats to eat at the 5am wake-up call and a cheese egg wrap to have on the coach. In terms of food for my bag I make my own date and nut energy balls adding in Mountain Fuel recovery powder to keep me going on distance runs. I also took enough Mountain Fuel energy jellies to keep me going to Ambleside.

The first couple of miles at LIAD are on track going away from Caldbeck. As the track peters out, you’re led up into the fells and the terrain changes and gets boggy. There’s an undulating 10 miles or so of big mountains, river crossings and bog until you reach the top of Blencathra – and the lovely breath-taking decent of Halls Fell.

From Threlkeld there’s another mile or so of road (it seemed like more) before you start the ascent of Clough Head – which is steep!  The route then follows a similar trajectory to leg 2 of the Bob Graham – on nice paths, but don’t underestimate the ascent and descent between Clough Head and Fairfield. From the top of Fairfield, you have a fun descent into Ambleside to then get a few minutes sit down and eat food.

From Ambleside to the finish the terrain is much more trail and lovely paths alongside Windermere, through woods, beside tarns (not forgetting roads), until you suddenly find yourself 2 miles outside of Cartmel and ready for a sprint finish (or what seems like a sprint!)

The hardest part for me was that road out of Threlkeld – that seemed to go on forever, knowing you have to take on the climb up Clough Head. From the Dodds to Dollywaggon I was hanging on having seemingly had too much sugar. However, a few gulps of water from Grisedale tarn [note from editor – we do not advise you do this without a filter at least] and from summiting Fairfield, the rest of the race was a joy. I learned a few ultra-running lessons on the day.  Firstly, don’t overload yourself with sugary snacks. Secondly don’t underestimate yourself.  Despite finishing 8th, I had fuel in the tank at the end.

The food and organisation at LIAD is spot on. I think it’s nice that everyone camps together the night before. And the course is epic.  So many good views and varying scenery.  I definitely enjoyed the camaraderie between everyone involved. I was well placed with the 3rd placed lady so spent most of the day chatting to her.  But every one of the runners was really encouraging to each other, and the volunteers and marshals couldn’t do enough to support.

To take part you definitely need to be mountain fit and know what it means to scale Lakeland mountains for 25miles – and then run a marathon on top of that.  However, you can get that fit through training – so don’t be put off entering if you’re not there yet. If you put in the work, you can do it. Don’t be daunted about the training. So long as you’ve built a good base of 40m per week for some time all it takes is 6-10 weeks solid training beforehand. Also train with all the kit you need to carry on the day. I always go with the motto ‘train heavy, race lighter.’ Definitely get a bag that can fit all the required kit in – and has new enough elastic that it doesn’t sag. I realised 4 weeks before the race that my race vest was past its sell by date so got a new one that worked a treat.  Also, I changed from fell shoes to nice bouncy trail shoes at Ambleside and bounced along the final 20 odd miles with springs in my heels.

People know what a special route this is, and also the amount of effort required just to get round. Everyone just tries to raise each other to do their own personal best.

LIAD was the first big organised Ultra I’ve done – others were lower key, or much shorter. I’ve got full admiration for the Race Organiser of this. The detail that goes into planning this must be immense and I felt fully looked after on the day.


Paul was raising fund for Abbie’s Army – a children’s DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) brain tumour research charity. To donate please click here >