Montane ready to tackle the Lakeland 100 and 50 2014


This weekend will see the famous MONTANE® Lakeland 100 / 50 ultra distance races take place. With over 1,100 entrants and a strong, competitive field, this year’s race is certain to raise pulses – not just amongst the runners.

©Press release by Montane

The epic ML100 race starts from the John Ruskin School in Coniston on Friday 25 July, while the shorter, speedier ML50 sets off from Dalemain on Saturday 26 July. The 50-mile event this year is a British Athletics Ultra Trail Championship event and will without doubt see some fast racing from the top ladies and top men. Will course records be broken?

Several Team Montane members will be participating and hopes are high for spots on the podium.  Stepping up to the endurance ML100 will be Debbie Martin-Consani and Steven Major.  Both have tackled the event before, however, as veterans of the course will readily admit, prior experience doesn’t necessarily make it any easier.

Debbie is an experienced ultra distance runner with various podium finishes under her belt, amongst which finishing 1st in the 145 mile Grand Union Canal Race in both the ladies and overall categories.  She has also been selected to run for Team GB for the International Association of Ultrarunners.  In 2013’s ML100, Debbie finished with a very respectable time of 26:02:00 in the ladies category, second only to Lizzie Wraith, who smashed the course record by just over 4 hrs 30 mins.

Steven took up running originally to fundraise for his son’s football team.  His first race was a 5 mile local fun run: “I found the run quite difficult, not having done enough training, but even so I got round in one piece and thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie between other fun runners and organisers.  After experiencing this, I thought ‘I want to run it again’”.  Since that first 5 mile run, Steven has run longer, more difficult trail races.  This will be his third ML100.

The ML50, although it uses the second half of the ML100 course, is a completely different event.  Competitors are more tightly bunched together and competition is generally fiercer as the race distance is shorter.  Whereas ML100 participants take on average 30 hours to complete the course (the record stands at 19:50:37), the ML50 racers cross the finish line on average after 16 hours.  The current course record is 07:39:26.

Team Montane members Marcus ScotneyTony Holland and Stuart Mills are raring to compete and there will be fireworks aplenty!  All three have competed in either the ML100 or ML50 before – Stuart has previously focused on the ML100, Tony has experience of competing in both distances and Marcus has participated in the ML50.

© began running in 1994 and took on his first ultra marathon in 2008.  He has run trail, fell and road races and now concentrates on trail.  A high achiever, Marcus has numerous race wins to his name, most recently a stunning victory in the 130km Iznik Ultra in Turkey.  He returns to the ML50 after having to pull out of 2013’s race: “DNF’d at 28miles suffered with chest pain was like running up hill whilst running down down hill & breathing through a straw”.

Tony was propelled into the world of running in 2010 after being inspired by his son, who has Down’s Syndrome and regularly fundraises for the Northumberland Down’s Syndrome Support Group & Disability Activity through his running.  Initially a means of fundraising for Tony, it has transformed his life.  He is a regular on the trail running race circuit and last year set up his own specialist running store,  In 2012, Tony took on the ML100, but was forced to withdraw at checkpoint 9 of 14.  In 2013 he was back to tackle the ML50 and completed the course in a time of 12:18:49.  This year he will be on the start line once again for the ML50.

Finally, after winning the 2013 & 2010 ML100, legendary runner Stuart Mills will try his hand at the ML50.  He joined his local running club at the age of 14 and began training in earnest in 1978.  He ran his first marathon in Rotorua, New Zealand aged 17.  Stuart’s wealth of experience has led him to a set of core race tactics: “Run as fast as I can, while I can!”

But whether all or none of our fantastic Team Montane runners cross the finish line, one thing’s for sure – this year’s race will be electric.

For further information on the Montane Lakeland 100 / 50, click here

Want to run with SCOTT JUREK?

Scott Jurek - ©scottjurek


SCOTT JUREK will join myself and Marc Laithwaite (Lakeland RD) in the English Lakes this coming Friday for a run on the Lakeland 100/50 course. We would have liked to make this an ‘open’ event but due to time restraints and logistics we are offering 6-8 people the opportunity to join us.
You will need to make your own way to a central Lakeland location and be available from midday (1200) tbc and able to run 12-18 miles comfortably. How can you join us? Well we want to make this as fair as possible, so, please email with your name and and telephone number. All emails will be added to a list and 6-8 names will be chosen at random and notified via email, phone and on the Talk Ultra Facebook page.

You can also use the form below.

Needless to say, this may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity to join an ultra running legend.

On another note, thank you to everyone who provided input for a trail in or around London. This was the initial request and it changed. I really appreciate the effort everyone went to. However, Scott is in London Saturday, Sunday and Monday so you may be able to link into one of the other events. Thanks

Ben Abdelnoor smashes Lakeland 50


Ben Abdelnoor obliterated the course record to win the Lakeland 50-mile ultra race over some of the UK’s toughest trails. His winning time of 7:39:26 was over 40 minutes quicker than anyone else on the day.

Ben wore our lightweight, super-gripping Roclite shoes. He also used our Race Ultra Vest, which is part of our exciting new pack range for spring/summer 2014.

Here the 33-year-old reflects on one of the biggest wins of his career.

The Lakeland 100 is a race that has caught my imagination in a way no other race has, or probably ever will.

In each of the previous three years I’d supported the event as it passed through my hometown of Ambleside – it actually passes my front door!

In 2010, I cheered on my girlfriend in the 100-mile event. She passed through Ambleside late at night in the cold and rain, struggling and in pain, but determined to finish. I remember being quite emotional at the time.

I’d then proudly watched her finish in Coniston to take the victory after a tortuous 32 hours of running.

That same day I’d witnessed an incredible neck-and-neck battle between the awesomely talented pair of Andrew James and Jon Morgan in the Lakeland 50-mile event.

James had eventually won by a few minutes, setting a new course record of 7 hours 47 minutes in the process.

This year I took the plunge and entered the 50-mile race – which has 3,100m of ascent – making it my big target for the season.

With that in mind – together with inov-8 team-mate Paul Tierney – I won the 37-mile Old County Tops mountain race earlier this year, taking 7 hours to cover the course. I also won the recent 21-mile Wasdale race over England’s highest mountains.

Confident I had a 50-miler in my legs, my next job was to work out what pace to run at. Using the splits from Andrew James’ 2010 victory, I paced the legs from Pooley Bridge to Ambleside, and from Ambleside to Coniston.

My training consisted of long runs (2-3 hours), as well as some longer fell races (20-plus miles).

Mentally I prepared by poring over the map and memorising the route. Every climb, every twist of the path and every bit of terrain – I scrutinised them all.

I use mentally imagery a lot to help me prepare for races, and again before the Lakeland 50 I pictured myself running strong and committed throughout the course of the race. This helped build my confidence and self-belief.

Toeing the startline, I knew Marcus Scotney was the favourite to win, and with good reason. He’d won a hilly Windermere Marathon in a time of 2 hours 38 minutes, and came within 30 seconds of the course record in the Coniston Trail Marathon.

So when Marcus flew off from the start and disappeared across the fields, I tried not to panic.

By the first checkpoint at Howtown there was three of us were following Marcus, not that we could see him!

Next came a sweltering traverse along Haweswater reservoir, before we dropped into checkpoint two at Mardale.

We then hit the stiff climb up over Gatesgarth Pass, and soon I was on my own, in sole pursuit of the leader.

I say on my own, but actually I had many Lakeland 100 runners for company. They had set off the previous evening on the longer course. Without them I think I would have struggled. I don’t think it was any coincidence that my two low points in the race were the times when I had no 100-mile runners to aim for up ahead and no-one to offer, or receive, encouragement to or from.

By the time I arrived in Kentmere I’d been running for over four hours, but was still relishing the thought of every ascents.

I was finding the flat sections a bit of a struggle though, dropping to what felt like a rather slow pace a little too easily.

I was, however, buoyed when I spotted Marcus up ahead. I had hoped I’d been gaining on him but couldn’t be sure – one person I passed reckoned he was 19 minutes ahead!

I finally caught Marcus near the top of Garburn Pass. We exchanged a quick word and then I focused my mind on the long descent into Troutbeck, determined to try and open up a lead on my rival.

After Troutbeck came Ambleside, and very familiar territory! I have to admit to choking back a tear upon seeing so many friends and supporters cheering me as I headed into the checkpoint there.

I received even more encouragement in the news that Marcus was dropping out and that there was therefore a 15-minute gap back to the new second-placed runner.

Heading over the bridge in the park at Ambleside there was encouragement from my flatmate in the form of a banner marked with two arrows – the right-pointing arrow, indicating the race route over Loughrigg, was marked ‘victory’ whilst the left-pointing arrow, towards our house, read ‘cake’!

In need of further encouragement I put my earphones in and tuned in to some music. I wanted something to further fire me up. Slipknot, System of a Down, Marilyn Manson, Korn; these are my guilty pleasures. They all gave me increased drive!

Ben testing exciting new inov-8 product, including the Race Ultra Vest, in the Alps. Photo by

Ben testing exciting new inov-8 product, including the Race Ultra Vest, in the Alps. Photo by

From Ambleside it felt a long couple of hours, and a long way up the Great Langdale valley to the checkpoint at Chapel Stile.

There was little by way of incident, except for what I called ‘the man in black’. Up until seeing him I’d been fairly confident that the 15-minute lead I was told I had at Ambleside was only growing, given that I was hitting my split times.

As I skirted Blea Tarn I overtook a female 100-mile competitor, the first runner in either event I’d seen for well over an hour. A little while later I looked back to see the same lady making her way along the path, closely followed by a runner dressed in black, and shifting very quickly.

It was unlikely a 100-mile competitor would have suddenly picked up such pace, so it could only be a 50-mile competitor running a well-paced race with a strong second half.

I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? Suddenly my vision of a glorious run into Coniston was turned on its head. I was going to have to run for my life thinking I was being chased. (I realise it could have been someone just out running, but for anyone who knows that area, it’s not a common path to take whilst out on a run).

Not until I hit the Coniston Coppermines track and headed down the final mile of road into Coniston was I sure I’d done it.

To run along the main street and receive so much support from folk sitting outside the pubs, cheering and applauding, was just about the greatest welcome I’ve ever received in a race.

I crossed the finish line in a time of 7:39:26, breaking the course record by eight minutes.

As for the ‘man in black’, I did in fact, have a 40-minute cushion at the end over the second-placed runner. The female 100-mile competitor had run from Ambleside to Coniston completely alone. So I guess it must have just been someone out for a run…

I wore my inov-8 Roclite 285 shoes (the new model of which is the Roclite 243). An excellent lightweight trail shoe, they ensured me a solid grip over rock and grass as well as plenty of cushioning over rough ground. I had no blisters, rubbing or sore spots on my feet after 50 miles of competition.

I also used the inov-8 Race Ultra Vest (available spring/summer 2014). This is, without doubt, the most comfortable pack I’ve worn whilst running. Multiple straps on the back of the vest and across the chest allow for an exact fitting. I stuffed gels into the stretchable, easy-access pockets and fitted a wide-neck 500ml drinks bottle into a hip-pocket.

Although I carried more, I consumed only four energy gels, mostly early in the race when I could still stomach them.

At some of the checkpoints I picked up a biscuit or two. Twice I tried to eat a cheese sandwich, but was unable to do so.

Fluid intake, however, was a different matter. I filled up my 500ml bottle with water, or a cola-water mix, at every checkpoint. I carried a small plastic food bag to scoop up beck water either to drink, or to cool me down by pouring it over my head, chest and neck. I’d estimate I drank around 4 litres of fluids during the race.

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Hole in the bucket!

Aagh, the bucket list! Is it a good thing or is it a bad thing? Some runners get so obsessed at ticking the races off and working through a list that they actually forget the most important thing; the experience.

I would much prefer to run for a lifetime with targets, goals and a ‘to do’ list than get it all over and done within five years and maybe not be able to run again through an injury.

So, to that end ‘findarace’ asked me what I considered to be the five best ultras in the UK. Now of course I am potentially opening a can of worms here. What one runner likes, another doesn’t. So, instead of trying to second-guess and be politically correct I am going to list five that I would choose.

To clarify, it’s all about experiences, views and challenges for me, so, you are not going to see a road ultra in this list as I don’t think we have anything in the UK that could compete with Comrades. Had London to Brighton still been a road run, it would have almost certainly made the list. Also, your not going to see the GUCR (Grand Union Canal Race) at the risk of some abuse from those who ‘love’ this race I just personally think life is too short to run for hours and hours on a canal tow path. Also, distance isn’t everything. I am not a distance snob and therefore for me, a good race is a good race, 30 miles, 50 miles or 100(+) miles makes no difference.

Here goes in chronological order:

January – The SPINE 268-mile non-stop across the Pennine Way HERE

Having said that distance isn’t everything and then here I go with a ridiculous 268-mile race that takes place in January. yes, January. So, if distance wasn’t enough you have to contend with cold weather, ice, snow, wind and whatever else the UK can throw at you. The appeal? Well this race is non-stop so it brings in a real element of tactics, endurance, planning and basically leave your brain at the door challenge.

Taking place on the entire Pennine Way it is arguably the most demanding National Trail in Britain. Beautiful, difficult and challenging it includes the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park – finishing on the Scottish Borders.

Open to anyone with appropriate experience who wishes to test themselves and compete in a truly brutal race. The first edition was in 2012 and only 3 finished.

April – HIGHLAND FLING 53 miles HERE

The Highland Fling Ultra, is a trail race over the southern section of the famous West Highland Way Path (you can cover the full 95 miles in August in the West Highland Way race) Starting in Milngavie (close to Glasgow) and finishing in the scenic village of Tyndrum.  The route is almost entirely on trails and thus traffic-free. Varied terrain and stunning scenery makes this a truly enjoyable experience.

In addition to the solo runners, there are club competitions, and a four-person relay race. All runners must be 21 years old or over (18 for the relay). 53 miles you must cover the distance within the 15-hour time limit and you must run unsupported, however, you are allowed drop bags at checkpoints.

June – UTSW 100 miles, 60 miles and 100m relays HERE

The UTSW is a brute… offering two distances at 60 and 100 miles believe me you are no wimp choosing the 60-mile option. The 100-mile race starts in Charlestown in the southwest corner of Cornwall. Heading east on the South West Coast Path crossing the beautiful Fowey estuary by ferry before continuing on to the to the quaint fishing town of Looe. Here you will leave the South West Coast Path for a while and head inland mostly following the Smugglers Way. Continuing north you will come to the famous Jamaica Inn. Bodmin Moor is the next obstacle.

If you plan on the 60-mile option, Bodmin is your start point.  Brown Willy the highest point in Cornwall is the next landmark and then you have a cross county trek which comes to an end at Boscastle. Here you head west along the South West Coast Path to Tintage. Now heading west you will hit the Camel Estuary where a ferry will transport you across to Padstow. Padstow to Watergate Bay are the final 20 miles with a finish at the Watergate Bay Hotel. Don’t underestimate this race! This course is brutal, beautiful and challenging.

July – Lakeland 100 and 50 HERE

For me, the Lakeland 100 and 50 is everything that an ultra should be. A challenging course, beautiful course, great organization and an iconic race. In it’s short history the race has become possibly the premier 100 miler in the UK. Taking in a circular route of the English Lakes the race starts and finishes in Coniston. It is a navigation event but you are provided with a detailed route book and you are allowed GPS. For many participants, regular ‘recces’ are essential to ensure that race day runs smoothly. The 50-mile option starts half way around the 100-mile route and is a wonderful race it it’s own right. In actual fact, I would almost tip my head towards the ‘50’ as it can be raced and ultimately a more enjoyable experience may be obtained. It depends what you are after?

The route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland fells, it includes in the region of 6300m of ascent. The route is almost entirely on public bridleways and footpaths but does have one or two small sections of road to make connections with trail. The route takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here the route heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston.

August – North Downs Way 100 and 50 HERE

The race begins in Farnham at the Western end of the North Downs and works its way through some of the best of the English countryside.

Key landmarks are: Puttenham, Guildford, Ronmore Common, Box Hill, Reigate Hill, Merstham, Oxted, Knockholt Pound, Wrotham, Holly Hill, Medway Bridge, Detling, Hollingbourne, Harrietsham and Charing before dropping down into Wye and the finish.

Organized by Centurion Running this race is part of a ‘Grand Slam’ based around the American system of 4 x 100 mile races in 1 year. The addition of 50 mile options makes this a great series of races and in comparison to UTSW and the Lakeland courses this is an ideal opportunity to tackle 50 or 100 trail miles over an ‘easier’ course.

Notable others:

  • West Highland Way (June) 95 miles
  • Ring of Fire (August) 131 miles in 3 days
  • Ridgeway (August) 85miles
  • Dragon’s Back (September) 200 ‘ish’ miles

And I could go on……