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From Parkrun to Lakesman

It all started with one of those moments! I was in Keswick (June 2017) and waiting for the start of the Parkrun, when an announcement went out;

‘Who will be doing The Lakesman tomorrow?’ from the corner of my eye I saw a group of mature ladies raise their hands in the air and shout:

‘We are!’

It was that moment which had me thinking, ‘if they can, I could.’

It was also the start of a long journey. I visited Keswick again on the day of Lakesman 2017, and watched athletes starting the marathon leg of the event and I knew then that I would have to come back. Once the entries went live the following week, I took the plunge and entered. I signed up and followed a monthly training programme from Steve and Offthatcouchfitness for nearly 10 months.

So fast forward to June 2018 and I am back in Keswick, lined up for the Keswick Parkrun and also ready for Lakesman 2018. Registration and set up were very well organised and if Carling did Race Briefings then this was one of them, a very relaxed atmosphere, there are only two reasons for a DQ, the first dropping litter on the course, the second, not smiling and failing to high five the marshal’s on the route.

Sunday morning came around too quickly, after what seemed a long time tapering I was ready to roll. Porridge at 4am in the morning is not the best experience, but it had to be done. Luckily I only had a short walk from my hotel to the start.

Waiting for the swim start was the only near disaster of the whole day. Looking in my swim hat where I had placed my ear plugs for the swim, there was only one. Oh bugger, a short faff and looking again in my hat and there was the missing plug. Panic over!

The swim went really well; I was worried about the washing machine experience, but apart from a few toe ticklers there was plenty of space. The swim gave great views down Derwentwater and across to fells like Catbells. Out of the water in 1:20:00 which was what I was expecting. Into transition for a quick change a bog stop and then onto the bike.

The bike route had been sold as flat, it went from out of Keswick to Cockermouth and then along the coast. Flat, my a$*e. Not only was the route ‘undulating’ but the headwind from the South West was relentless, it was a relief to hit the coast at Egremont and head north with a lovely tailwind. This was short lived as the route turns back into the wind at Silloth for a short loop and then the long return to Keswick. Cycling is not my strong point and this was the longest continuous ride had done, so I was pleased with 6hrs 54. The last 12 miles taking nearly an hour due to the wind.

Transition 2 was very well organised, the marshal’s had my bag ready to change from bike to run. A quick bite to eat (Eccles Cakes) but no time for an ice cream and it was out on the run.

The run is five laps around Keswick, down through Crow Park, out towards Portinscale and the suspension bridge, before heading to the ‘highway to hell.’ Up one side of the road, down the opposite, back up the middle and then down the other-side, not only that but the road rises up and drops on each lap before the turn.

The run started well, and I fuelled up at the feed stations, but after the halfway point the wheels or legs started to fall off and it was a case of walk some run some. A shout from the Fire Service Tri team ‘Steve Cark would have you running’ and I pick up a bit.

At the end of each lap, you are handed a band to keep tally of the laps, so at the start of the last lap, there was a big cheer from the marshal’s as I showed them my arm full of arm bands. It was only in the last kilometre where the realisation that I had completed my first full distance tri started to sink in. It was big high 5’s to the marshal’s and as the route split to head towards the finish the big smile and wave came out and a finish time of 13:45:48. I was now a Lakesman and the end of a long journey and the beginning of another.

I would certainly recommend Lakesman, it may not be the big brand tri, but the atmosphere, support and scenery are fantastic. My thanks to Steve Clark at offthatcouchfitness, my brother Rob Marshall for his support, and the support from my clubs (Lincsquad and S&DAC).

Would I do it again……….watch this space!

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