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Celebrating the Langdale road races

Originally from Manchester, Rod developed the Langdale Road Races after the original Windermere Marathon disbanded. Wanting to keep a challenging road race in the area and attract competitive runners, Rod worked tirelessly to develop a series of events in the unique and stunning Langdale valley. First came the Christmas Pudding 10k in 1988, which initially only attracted 38 runners and included a giant plywood Christmas Pudding finish line arch.

Rod remembers, ‘we carefully covered the ‘hole’ in paper, ready for the winner to run through. Instead of breaking through the paper arch, the guy ran straight into the plywood frame!’

It’s since developed into a festive-time favourite, attracting 1000 runners at its peak.

Rocket Rod and Dorothy

Brathay Trust, took over the events in 2018, keeping a close relationship with Rod to carry forward his vision for the events. The Langdale Marathon has gained a reputation as the toughest road marathon in the UK, featuring a two lap course and 3,300ft of elevation . It’s also the race that claims the highest rate of DNFs of any UK road marathon, not for the faint of heart or ill-prepared!

In 2020, the Langdale Marathon and Half Marathon were amongst only a few going ahead under strict covid and social distancing rules, providing an event for runners who were craving the racing scene.

To honour Rod’s commitment and vision to the races, New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and Brathay presented him with a plaque to mark the home of the Langdale Road Races. Rod unveiled the plaque with his wife Dorothy on the 17th April 2023. Rod was thrilled to have receive the recognition for his race, stating that, ‘I didn’t think they were much thought of by anyone. It’s incredibly thoughtful, I’m thrilled that the races mean so much to so many runners’.

Rocket Rod and the Langdale Road Races plaque

Robert Tudgey, manager of the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel said, ‘we have been working in partnership with the Langdale Road Races since they started and it’s always a pleasure to see Rod and Dorothy. We hope to continue to support these races for many years to come’.

Scott Umpleby, the race director for the Langdale Road races said, ‘We are happy to honour Rod’s commitment to the runners and it was a special moment to be with him when the plaque was unveiled, he was quite emotional. The races wouldn’t be the success they are without Rod’s vision, planning and commitment to the runners’.

A special thanks to the legendary Rocket Rod for creating the Langdale Road Races.