With little fanfare or celebration, my 40th marathon has come and gone. In fact, I've just now realized while logging my mileage, that it was indeed #40. Sure, "That's Lyth" is a few miles short of a real marathon, but since I count my ultramarathons as just one marathon, I figure it all averages out.
That's Lyth was a wonderful event in Kendal in the Lakes district, made even better by the cooperating weather. Temps were right at freezing, but the calm air and frozen trails made for easy going. The views were obscured by thick, muggy air hanging around, but I was watching my feet most of the time, so I'm not sure I really missed out on much. I'll have to come back someday for a walking tour on a sunny day, to see the valley and scars properly.
The event is sold out every year, meaning that the start hall was seething with 400 folks by start time, but it's easy to see why it's so popular. The trail is easily runnable, with nice downhill sections, some flats, and the obligatory uphills. The trails were mostly wide and easy to run, saving for one particularily steep section coming down Whitbarrow Scar. Perhaps 30-40% of the trail is actually on pavement, which suits me fine. A few sections went through some nice forests peppered with Holly bushes, and it was a nice change from the open moors. Across the middle section of the Lyth Valley, our fitness was tested with a few very flat easy miles on a paved trail, which begged to be run. As that section came at about mile 17, I manged a 6 mph shuffle and felt pretty good about it. Reduced to a walk on the final uphill over Scout Scar, it seemed to take forever, but I was still able to run down the final miles into town, to finish in 4:31.
But perhaps what makes the event so popular is not the trail itself, but the well-stocked checkpoints (3 of them) with hot food and drinks, plus a great variety of rolls, cookies, and soup at the finish. Probably the best spread I've seen so far at an event, and all for a measly 4 pound entry fee. That's Lyth is also non-competitive and un-timed, so I think many folks took a little extra time for tea stops along the way.
For me, the best part of the trail came near the end, when I realized that for probably the first time ever, my feet were still clean and dry when I finished. :)