Andrea Sullivan combines a rowing and fell-running race with a luxury stay in the Lake District
We arrive at the Lakeside Hotel on Lake Windermere, slightly weary after a long week at work and a long journey from Kent. But the beautiful setting, right on the lakeside and surrounded by the best scenery the area has to offer, as well as the lovely relaxed atmosphere, soon soothe us into serenity. First things first, though: my friend and I haven’t seen each other for a while so we immediately head to the bar to do some catching up. Somehow, this culminates with a trip into Windermere to dance the night away. It seemed a good idea at the time but I do wake up the next day – race day – a little jaded. Thank goodness for a hearty breakfast and some fresh lake air to clear the head. Plus the Gummer's How fell race doesn’t start until 5.30pm, so I’ve plenty of time to rebuild my energy levels in the amazing hotel spa.
Exercise outdoors for a bigger calorie burnGummer's How fell is right across the lake and there’s no doubt it’s a big hill. But just now I am more worried about the fact that we will have to row across the lake before running up the fell. We wisely agree it’s a good idea to practise before the race, so we get set up with one of the hotel boats and life jackets and off we go…Well, not quite. It’s harder than it looks and we’re genuinely worried we won’t be able to make it to the other side. Things are not looking good. Still, we gather for the race an hour before the start. There’s a mix of hardened fell runners with more amateur types, including one hen weekend group – they won’t be taking it very seriously. Everyone’s very friendly which makes me feel a lot better. The start of the race sends runners on a loop to spread out the field before reaching the banks, where the boats are lined up and ready to go. I manage to row to the other side without too much drama – a huge relief – and can really start to enjoy myself. The fell run starts off gradually, but it’s not long before the incline kicks up and my quads and the lungs start burning. Now it’s more of an uphill climb and, like other competitors ahead of me, I slow to almost walking pace.
How to choose a pair of trail running shoesIt’s a relief to spot the two race officials marking the highest point so that I can turn around and head down with a tail wind pushing me all the way. The run down requires real concentration and only the seasoned fell runners will really be heading down with any pace. Then I’m back in the boat and rowing to the hotel where a cheering crowd and a cold beer await. What a brilliant way to spend a weekend.
A one night stay at Lakeside Hotel & Spa on Lake Windermere costs from £179 per room per night with breakfast; spa treatments cost from £30 (lakesidehotel.co.uk; 015395 31699). To take part in a fell run, visit fellrunner.org.uk.
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