1. The 13 Valleys start – the beginning of a trail

The idea behind the 13 Valleys Ultra was to create a trail that would link all 13 valleys of the Lake District together, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This trail is open to walkers and runners alike all year long and we would celebrate it once a year with our event.

You can find the full route on the 13 Valleys OS Map here.

We knew from the start that we wanted this event to welcome all runners and not just be accessible to a certain elite. This is why we decided to offer the option of four different distances, with a trail run for people who’ve never ran on trails before or might not want to do an ultramarathon just yet. All distances have the same finish, in Keswick, which means all runners get to experience the same finish line, whatever the distance they’ve done.

‘It was a marvellous weekend of trail running that showcased the best of our World Heritage Site and National Park. It was amazing to see so many competitors taking inspiration from the landscape as they strived for their personal challenge. Special thanks to our staff and volunteers helping with feed stations, without which the event couldn’t happen.’

Richard Leafe, Chief Executive, Lake District National Park

2. The Event Village

We were incredibly lucky to have the trust of our brand sponsors for this inaugural event and to have them at our event village. A big thank you to all of them:

Footwear: La Sportiva

Apparel & Equipment: inov-8

Socks: Bridgedale

Headlamps: Petzl

Nutrition: Voom Nutrition & ZENB

Charity: Lake District Foundation

Mapping: Ordnance Survey

Electric cars for DNF assistance: BMW

We also had Leki as exhibitors for running poles, who ran a ‘Leki pole challenge’ competition: extending and collapsing a pole as many times as possible in 1 minute!

And finally let’s not forget our food vendors, Yardies Jamaican Street Food and Joey’s Café 😊

3 . Donations to the Lake District Foundation

5% of each of our entry fees has been donated to the Lake District Foundation, who were present at our event village. They’ve also raised £430 in donations over the weekend.

“We had a fantastic couple of days at 13 Valleys. There was such a buzz around the event, with real excitement amongst everyone involved, from the athletes to the events staff, to the other stall holders.

Our recycled outdoors kit stall was a huge success thanks to the generous donations of 13 Valleys runners. We received some fantastic kit donations including brand new shorts and barely worn shoes. These were snapped up by eco-friendly bargain hunters and we raised £430 in donations.

A huge thank you to the team at 13 Valleys for supporting the Lake District Foundation. We can’t wait for next year!”

Char Binns, Comms Officer Lake District Foundation

4 - Weather challenges

What will you become? Wet!

On any weekend in late September, or any weekend in the Lakes for that matter, the weather will always shape your adventures. The 13 Valleys weekends was no different.

With a huge amount of rain in the build-up, we were relieved to see the forecast showing a dryer weekend. We had daily weather forecasts with a met office forecaster, and they were showing a showery and blustery weekend ahead, but we were hopeful it wouldn’t impact too much.

Throughout Thursday afternoon and Friday we had teams checking the course, with particular attention being paid to the water table, any streams in spate, and the ground conditions in general. The combination of heavy rain and last minute logging in Grizedale Forest had made that section particularly challenging, but with no safety concerns we were set to go ahead with the full 13 Valleys Route. As we spoke to the met office on Friday the weather forecast showed signs of deteriorating, and as such our medical and safety teams recommended we switch to cold weather kit as mandatory.

It was a regrettably late call and one we wouldn’t look to repeat in future. With the 13 Valleys runners safely under way, enjoying balmy temperatures and a full moon, we went into Friday night with wind speeds forecast to below our safety thresholds. The next morning’s call with the met office wasn’t as positive though. As the low pressure had moved across the Atlantic the latest modelling data showed winds speeds, and rain levels, set to increase. These new speeds tipped us over into a pre-planned contingency route, which took out the climb up to High Street – the highest part of the course. The decision was made, knowing it wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking, but participant safety was always at the heart of the event.

The new section was way-marked, and gpx files circulated, with staff dispatched to Waterhead to brief all participants on the changes. It was a challenging situation for our first year, and there were plenty of learnings to be had, but I don’t think any of those who made their way over Sticks Pass would argue too much that it was the wrong call.

So it was wet, and it was windy, but what else would we expect from the Lake District. We loved it!

5. Results

The results are now available ­– you can view them here.

6. Feedback

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send us their feedback post-race, this has been incredibly useful to us to take into next year’s preparations. If you haven’t yet and would like to do so, don’t hesitate to email us here.

Any feedback, good and bad, is precious to us so we can make this event even better next year.