Described as one of the most beautiful and friendliest marathons in the country, this event should be on every marathon runner's bucket list of events! The event centres around Brathay Hall, a magnificent Georgian hall nestled close to Ambleside at the Northern end of Lake Windermere.
We've summarised some of the best advice for the Windermere Marathon to help you complete and, perhaps more importantly, enjoy running in the Lake District's biggest marathon.
Is The Windermere Marathon Hilly?
Watch out for the hills!
Knowing where any hills and tougher sections on the Windermere Marathon route are can be the best way to improve marathon pacing. We recommend you watch out for the main hills on the course and avoid pushing too hard during these parts - its easy to get carried away fighting your way up the hill but if you go too hard it will be detrimental to the rest of your run.
Whilst much of the course is rolling there are a couple of key hills to watch out for. After passing through Hawkshead (mile 4) and beside Esthwaite Lake you hit the longest climb on the route known as "Devil's Gallop" at around 7miles. If you can avoid pushing too hard up this, things ease slightly and you can enjoy the run down to Graythwaite Estate and further South to Newby Bridge.
Perhaps the hardest part of the Windermere Marathon, due to both the elevation itself, and the fact it hits after 20miles of running, is just beyond Bowness. The climb up Rayrigg Road starts beside Rayrigg Meadow and climbs up until flattening out just before the road meets to main A591. As the climb eases don't miss the breathtaking (sorry!) views over the left shoulder across the Lake towards the Langdale Pikes beyond. The views aren't the only reward as you enjoy some downhill sections over the final few miles before arriving back at Brathay Hall to finish.
Nail Your Marathon Hydration
We're all well aware of the importance of good hydration, and yet so many runners toe the start line dehydrated, never mind dehydration on course. If you want to perform to the level you're capable of, and avoid the risk of painful cramps, your hydration strategy should start the day before the event. Make sure you're sipping a drink regularly, and if its particularly warm, you'll want some electrolytes in there such as VOOM Hydrate Smart formula.
We also recommend sipping around 500ml of Electrolyte drink in the 3hours directly before starting - many runners aim to have their last proper meal around 3hours before the start. Once the event starts we recommend aiming to drink 400-800ml of an electrolyte drink per hour whilst running. Obviously this is a broad range but there can be big variation in requirements based on how much an individual sweats and the temperature of the day. Ideally you want a hypotonic drink such as VOOM Hydrate, as opposed to isotonic or just water. This is because hypotonic solutions hydrate up to 40% quicker which means the liquid sits in the stomach for less time, reducing risk of bloating or the discomfort of that 'sloshing feeling'.
VOOM Hydrate Smart is available at the on-course aid stations or if you really want to closely follow your own hydration schedule it may be worth carrying your own liquids in a small pack or bum bag. VOOM Hydrate contains Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium to help maintain normal function of cells during exercise.
If you become dehydrated your performance suffer and you risk cramps so its important to be replacing both water loses and electrolyte loses whilst running.
Where to watch the Windermere Marathon?
Our third top tip is to enjoy the support out on this fantastic course. The locals are friendly and get behind the event and if you have your own family or friends they can really give you a lift as you tire! Some of the best places to watch the Windermere Marathon from are Newby Bridge where you can enjoy refreshments on the terrace at the wonderful Swan Hotel whilst waiting for your runner.
Another popular place to watch the runners is from Bowness Bay where there are plenty of nearby shops and cafes as well as public toilets. Depending on timings you are right by the Bowness Pier where you can board the Windermere Lake Cruises.
Closer to the finish some spectators like to base themselves at Waterhead which is just a mile before the finish line when runners could really use some support! There is a parking, cafes, shops, toilets and Borrans Park with some open space to entertain all the family whilst you wait.
Enjoy the atmosphere!
Don't forget to soak up the fantastic atmosphere of the event! Both with marshals and other runners out on the course and in the event village and expo area at Brathay Hall. There's a reason its known as one of the friendliest marathons out there and we hope you enjoy that on race day! VOOM will be in the expo both during registration on Saturday and for the race on Sunday so please do come and see is for some samples, with questions or just to chat about running!
Things to do near Windermere Marathon
Make a weekend of it!
If you're visiting the area from further afield it really does make sense to make a weekend of this fantastic part of the world. With some many brilliant things for you and/or the family to do before or after the event why not extend your time in the Lake District? Ambleside is packed with attractions including Beatrix Potter's former house at Hill Top, Bridge House, Stock Ghyll Force Waterfall walk, Windermere Lake cruises and Loughrigg Fell if you've any energy left for it!
Don't forget, you can still enter via the Brathay Website until 10 AM on the 18th of May!