The Lactic Flashback is a brutal 8 mile fell race with about 1500ft climbing and a quad trashing mile long xxx rated descent to the finish where a free chip buttie was waiting as part of the £7 entry fee.
I’d not run much going into this and I knew it was going to be tough hearing from friends who’d run it previously in 2010 and certainly wasn’t disappointed. The profile for the course is largely climbing for 6.5 miles and a quick but exceptionally steep descent to the finish which saw several runners crossing the line bloodied and bruised but luckily I wasn’t one of them and managed to race hard but tactically for a 23rd place finish (of 109 runners) in 1:09:13.
Technique and practice paid off
I’m trying to be a student of trail and fell running and I know when the terrain gets steep, there’s often little benefit to trying to keep a running pace up when walking is just as efficient and affords the opportunity for a (relatively speaking) breather and it proved as such during this race as the two runners who eventually finished behind me in 24 and 25th were clearly fit and strong and they ran the entire course while I walked in short bursts on the uphills keeping them in sight pretty much at all times but was able to run a slightly faster pace on the flatter (again, relatively speaking!) sections meant they never really built an unassailable lead.
The other key element to offroad running that can make or break a race is the ability to run downhill on very steep and/or technical terrain and the last descent was most certainly that. I reached the top of the descent and was immediately overtaken by the guy who’d been following me closely up the last couple of miles but who I’d made an effort to try and drop by allowing him to get close while I was walking before running again but he didn’t break and then flew past me on the extreme downhill with the ease of a clearly practised fell runner.
Not much I could do other than try and keep up which I did reasonably well in the end by staying far enough back to see the terrain safely but letting gravity help me down.
We both passed one of the stronger runners in front who I’d been trailing for the previous 6ish miles and reached the bottom reasonably close and I pushed hard to catch and pass the downhill demon who gave a friendly compliment on the way past about me probably leaving him for dead on the last bit (I didn’t, despite cranking up to around 5:30/mile pace for the last half mile or so).
I’m glad I’ve spent time reading about, and practicing good downhill technique and also not being afraid to walk up hills when it’s clear running isn’t going to shave off much time versus the effort level.
I really enjoy local races like this, the entry fee was excellent value, the course very clearly marked and hugely challenging and the level of support and marshalling was great. Even better was the fact that results were available less than half an hour after the final runner coming in.
As a final awesome bonus, my wife Ally and one of our friends Amanda won their respective (F35 & F40) age categories!
A really awesome race and I’d be confident of shaving off a good 2-4 minutes if I’d actually been fitter as I should be in the middle of marathon training but it’s been a nightmare of niggling injury and illness so not actually done much training but some room for improvement in 2 years time. As ever, it’s great fun running with great people so a tip of the hat to Deborah, Amanda, Ally and Darren for their great (prize winning) runs too.