Silva Great Lakeland 3Day (GL3D as it is known) 5th – 7th May 2018
After some persuasion, I convinced Emma and Olly to sign up for this 3 day mountain marathon. Olly initially signing up thinking that it was 18km per day (it was over 18miles a day!) and Emma on the premise that if there was cold weather or snow forecast, then she would not be attending! Fortunately, the sun shone for the whole weekend and Olly got his head around the longer than expected distances.
Oliver, Myself & Emma ready for the start of Day 1
The GL3D is an adventurous three-day mountain marathon with a unique, relaxed atmosphere designed for both runners and long distance walkers. Being a mountain marathon, there are no manned check-points or aid-stations, instead, the organisers provide you with a pre-marked mapped at registration, it is then down to you to plot your own route to the control points in the correct order listed on your map, at which you ‘dib’ your wrist band into an electronic device.
Map (with markings post event)
One of many controls
Oliver ‘Dibbing’ in
Unlike traditional 2-day Mountain Marathons, the organisers of the GL3D transport your overnight kit bags (tent, sleeping bag, spare clothes, food etc) to the campsites for you which means during the day all you have to do is run and carry the mandatory kit (waterproofs, warm top, food and water).
You have a choice of three courses/distances over the weekend, you can pick and choose which course each day depending on how you feel:
Café Course – 13miles & 1200m ascent a day, aimed at walkers but runners also do this course.
Wainwright Course – 18miles & 2100m ascent a day, aimed at runners and only very speedy walkers.
Expert Course – 22miles & 2700m ascent a day, aimed only at runners (or idiots such as myself).
Emma & Oliver planned to complete the Wainwright Course and I had planned to complete the Expert Course. (I am by no means an expert!!)
These distances and ascents are only averages; the 1st & 2nd days are significantly longer and the 3rd day shorter. It is also dependant on your route choice. As an example, my first day was actually 29.5miles and 3200m of ascent.
This kind of terrain all weekend, perhaps one of the flatter sections 😉
We had been hoping for fine weather in the build up to the event, but the weather was almost too good! Up on the fells there is no cover from the sun and after spending between 7 and 10 hours running the flats, scrambling and hiking the climbs and bouncing and sliding down the hills, the heat started to take its toll. Both Olly and I carried only 2 x 500ml bottles, having to fill up from rivers and waterfalls, meaning that you can go sometime without water if you aren’t careful, so dehydration was inevitable and we both suffered by the end of the day. Emma was more sensible and carried 2 x 500ml bottles and 1.5ltr platypus, meaning she could survive longer without needing to refill, and therefore, felt much better than us!
Olly finished Day 1 vowing to never run again and cursing me for convincing him to sign up in the first place! Emma was having a great time because she was so well hydrated and did everything that Olly and I didn’t. I was struggling by the end, but after scoffing down a complimentary flapjack, snickers bar, tea, water and then a dehydrated Chilli Con Carne, I perked up. We spent the evening chatting to other competitors and sharing stories and had a wash in the lake (oh yes, did I mention that there are no showers for the 3 days!).
Emma on one of many descents
It was a struggle to convince yourself that you can run another 20 or 25+ miles today; however, after forcing down some more dehydrated food, we all set off on our courses under the morning mist and were soon climbing up again.
When dehydration sets in, it becomes much harder to eat, for one day this is manageable, but the cumulative effect of not enough food or water after day 1, made for a very tough day 2.
I tried to drink and eat more today, but it’s very hard to eat when it’s so warm. I took a couple of detours to cafes to buy Coke, Lucozade and Ice cream. This seemed to help for the short term, but the day seemed tougher and longer than Day 1; I could see the campsite for most of the final 6 miles and it took a lot of convincing for me not to just cut short back to camp. It took me 10hrs57mins today! Brutal!
Emma and Oliver both kept hydrated and fuelled and had a more enjoyable day. Probably down to Olly’s ability to eat more dehydrated meals than we thought possible! And Emma sensibly carrying an extra litre and half of water.
Above the mist
The final day, only 15.5miles……
After eating next to nothing last night, the dehydrated meal was left in the bag and I made for the bacon butty van, 1 very large bacon and fried egg butty and a cup of coffee later and I was feeling human-ish. Poor Olly was left with his dehydrated egg and bacon (I don’t think he finished this one).
I decided I was not up to the Expert Course today, so I ran the day with Emma. We all set off together, but Olly was looking strong and feeling good on the first climb, so he went off ahead and we didn’t see him again until the finish.
Although shorter today, it was by no means an easy course, still lots of up and lots of steep downhill followed by a final 3km on a scorching hot undulating road. Oliver finished in 15th place and Emma 34th (but 7th Lady!!) out of 80 finishers. I didn’t get an over placing because I switched course on the final day. You can see the results here:
How tough the courses were and the effect of heat was evident by the number of people who switched to shorter courses over the weekend.
Expert Course – 40 started on Day 1 and only 13 completed all 3 days.
Wainwright Course – 148 started on Day 1 and only 80 completed all 3 days.
Overall, we had a fantastic weekend and would most definitely take part in the event again. The organisers and volunteers were superb and considering the logistics involved (moving participants kit, setting up marquees, catering facilities, toilets etc) the whole weekend ran so smoothly.
What better way to spend a bank-holiday weekend ???
Because the event caters for walkers and runners, it makes it very accessible for any Thame Runner that fancies a challenge outside of your normal trail race or ultra-distance event. I would highly recommend it!