Windermere Marathon – 21st May 2023

by Joanne Hope

After being MIA from the club for a few years, I was running sporadically at best. I’d put a lot of weight back on, I was massively unfit, miserable and I missed the club.

I needed something to motivate me and get me back on track (literally). I’d always wanted to attempt the ‘iconic’ distance and knew I would have to take the training seriously so decided to sign up.

I’ve always enjoyed rural, countryside runs so decided that Winderemere was the one for me! Time was also a deciding factor as it gave me six months to train which I thought would be the right amount of pressure and close enough to avoid me putting off starting training, thinking I had loads of time.

And hence it began! Initially I re-trained my body to run regular 5k’s again then slowly built up the distance. The training didn’t go quite to plan but I’m not sure how many ever do! Those long, lonely runs were really difficult. At 19 miles I honestly didn’t think I’d ever be able to run any further. I realised I probably wasn’t eating enough before or during. The last long training run I did, I ate better and felt better, then my calf went at 15 Miles!

All of this led to me absolutely kakking myself and doubting whether I would make it to the finish line at all, let alone how long it would take me. By the time race day came I just wanted to get round without injury, and if I did it under the 6.5 hour time limit, all the better. Once all of the runners gathered together I realised there were a few other runners with similar race targets to me which eased my nerves a little as I had been worried I may be totally on my own.

The race itself was well organised. It starts at Brathay Hall where the runners congregate on the lawn for the pre race briefing before being led down to start line a short walk away by drummers. It then takes in an anti clockwise route of Windermere and finishes back on the lawn at Brathay Hall.

The steepest inclines are on the first half but the second half doesn’t really feel any less flat, likely due to running on tired legs. There aren’t many flat sections at all, or at least that I remember! A lot of it is on quiet roads so there are some very quiet sections where you can go a few miles without seeing another soul. Then there are parts that run though busy towns.

It claims to be the most scenic UK marathon and is well known for being challenging and undulating. Scenery wise, it is really lovely every second of the way, and it was certainly undulating.

On the day, I felt better than I had on any of my training runs which was a massive relief and the views really do help.

I was incredibly lucky to have loads of absolutely fantastic support which was massively appreciated.

I said I’d only ever do the distance once but I’ve already started looking at Loch Ness Marathon, maybe next year!