Friday, 23 August 2013

Finishing the Lakeland 100

It's only about a week now until entries open for the Lakeland 100 and 50 races. Even though (or maybe because) I have a pretty unimpressive record in the "Lakelands" myself (one 50 finish, one 100 finish and two 100 DNF's) I'm fairly hooked on the events now and it struck me when at this year's race that I saw many of the same faces, so there must be some sort of "Lakeland" community building up. I thought it would be interesting to see how people have fared in the events as a whole over the years, rather than in individual races (this will turn into a lot of numbers, if you're not into this sort of thing, now's the time to go to a different blog and read a race report!).

I started by putting all the L100 results onto a spreadsheet to see where that would lead. Now there will probably be some mistakes in this because it's sometimes difficult to see whether last year's "William" is the same person as this year's "Bill", the results for the first couple of years are fairly basic, and so on, but overall it won't be far out. I haven't included the sheet here because (a) I don't know how to do it on this blog (it's a date of birth problem, I probably need a ten-year-old to show me how), and (b) it means you can search for the names of individual heroes yourself if you're interested, they can't blame me for unwanted publicity! What I've decided to do in this particular post is to concentrate on the question asked by many Lakeland 100 suitors  - "how difficult is it to finish?" Well the honest and simple answer is "pretty hard", but if you're on the point of throwing your hat in the ring and would like to know what your chances are, you might find the following statistics interesting.

Before starting, I have assumed that a "finisher" is a runner who is recorded on the results as having a Coniston Finish. This is not the same as finishing under the 40 hour cut-off because each year a number of finishers are declared up to 2 hours after the 40 hours. I don't know how the Organisers/Marshals make this call, but it might be encouraging to anyone crawling out of Tilberthwaite with the hours on the clock running down alarmingly to know that all may not yet be lost!

I should also point out that these are statistics, and the individual performances that they summarise are just that - individual. The easiest way to illustrate this point is probably the oldest example - you toss a coin and it comes down "heads" 99 times in a row, so what are the chances of the next toss coming down "tails" - 50% of course. But with that proviso let's carry on and see how the results have panned out.

There have been 6 Lakeland 100's since the event started in 2008, and the success rate (ie the percentage of starters that eventually finished) are easy to get:

2008  -  39%
2009  -  44%
2010  -  57%
2011  -  52%
2012  -  52%
2013  -  45%

The curious will already be wondering why the years are different, why it goes down as well as up, but hold that thought for now; there is a lot more going on in the background.

Over the six years, 704 individuals have started at least one Lakeland 100. But some runners make multiple attempts:
494    runners have started the race once
137    started twice
53      started three times
14      started four times
4        started five times, and
2        started six times

And success comes sooner for some than others:
329   runners completed the race on their first attempt.
51     completed on their second (ie after one DNF)
9       completed after two DNF's, and
1       completed after three DNF's - now that's serious persistance!
So overall, your chances of success at your first attempt are 47%, but that goes up to 53% if you're prepared to keep at it. Looking at the DNF figures next........

349   runners have had one DNF (some of these have had one or more finishes as well of course)
51     have had two DNF's (again, some of these have finishes as well)
13     have had three DNF's (four of these have also had at least one finish)
4       have had four DNF's  (two of these have also had at least one finish)
You have to feel for the guys with 3 or 4 DNF's without a finish  -  how long would you keep trying? But let's wind up on a more positive note with the successes:

310   runners have finished the event once
56     have finished twice
20     have finished three times
3       have finished four times
And one runner has five Lakeland 100 finishes to his credit. On his sixth start, he pulled up at Ambleside.

So overall, 704 runners have taken on the challenge of starting a Lakeland 100, and 390 of those have finished at least once.

But for all 704 it has probably been an experience they won't forget in a hurry. So if you click your name in on 1st September, good luck on the journey!

(I was tempted to include the 50 results because many runners have done both and I was interested to see how experience in the 50 translates into performance in the 100, but in the end I decided that was a bit too geeky even for me)


flanker said...

Nice article Andy ... apart from teh fact that I'm one of the two without 4 DNFs and no finish. If you want a wider picture, the first three were running as a pair with my girlfriend, and I pulled out with her due to her injuries. This year, going solo, I had to drop at Ambleside when my knee failed and meant I was going so slowly I got hypothermic as the heavens opened.

There's not many races where you can suffer heatstroke and hypothermia in the same day!

Robert Osfield said...

Interest article Andy, you might be retired but still got a sharp engineering brain ticking over ;-)

That really is such an amazing DNF rate, must class the Lakeland 100 as one of the toughest race out there.

Do you know how it compares to the DNF rate of other big ultras?

I'm curious to what your thoughts as to the reasons why the DNF is so high, and what runners might be do better in training and on race day to avoid the DNF.

graeme reid said...

A timely post Andy as my entry for the 100 is going in on Sunday. Best of luck in Chamonix!