AN ATHLETIC couple who fell in love at a running club are celebrating after completing the double at one of the most spectacular long distance races on UK shores.
Marco Consani and wife Debbie Martin-Consani made the trip from Glasgow to take part in the gruelling Lakeland 100 - and both went home clutching trophies.
The circular route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland fells, includes around 6300m of ascent and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths.
The route started in Coniston on Friday evening before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick.
From here runners headed to Matterdale and continued to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston.
With 14 manned checkpoints, 40 hours are given to complete the course but 39-year-old Consani, taking part for the first time, finished at around 4pm Saturday in a time of 21:54:52.
Wife Debbie finished second last year, but went one better this year finishing in a time of 25:28:33.
“I didn’t realise at the time how difficult the race would be,” said Marco, who runs for Garsube Harriers and works in IT.
“You would think racing in the Scottish Highlands was harder but it’s not - Lakeland is much rougher.
“I went down to see Debbie finish last year and was impressed by the organisation.
“I was originally meant to be doing 24-hour world championship racing on a track in June so had to build up for that but it was postponed until December so I joined my wife for couple of recce runs in the Lakes and thought I would quite like to try this.”
And while pleased with his performance Consani admits the challenge is more about the mental aspect, rather than physical.
“It gets to the point where your body is saying stop or walk and it’s hard telling your body no,” he said.
“I never think of the whole race, it is always about keeping going to the next checkpoint.
“You find things that occupy you. During the day it was really warm but at the night it was totally clear so I turned my torch off just to look at the sky and stars.
“I didn’t know the distances between each checkpoint because if you think I’ve got 64 miles to the finish then that sounds horrendous but one hour to the next checkpoint is much more manageable.”