Well, a week has gone by since I completed my first ultra. Will it be my last?
Hell no, it might have been tough, but in a lot of ways it was more enjoyable than Manchester Marathon.
The start list for the 50km showed 69 runners, so it was going to be quiet out there. It was unlikely that that there would be any supporters out. Only 2 aid stations, 14km and 30km. This is going to be a race on my own.
The race was held around Kielder Water in Northumberland. A beautiful part of the country.It was billed as a trail race. Now to me trail means fairly well maintained but rough paths. More of this later.
A fairly good night’s sleep in the B & B, carb loading breakfast and it was off to the start.
The weather forecast had promised 8 degrees, overcast with the chance of rain, ideal.
The mandatory kit list was extensive, including full waterproof cover and a basic first aid kit. Unlike the majority of the runners mine was in a bumbag rather than a small rucksack.
My strategy was to run the flat and downhills and walk the uphills, hoping for around 12 minute mile pace. Bearing in mind I’d never been past 26.2 before I was hoping this would carry me to the end.
The start time was 9 o’clock. I was hoping to finish in 6:30 or there abouts. Long day ahead.
Bang on time and we’re off. Settled in to what I though was a steady pace, turns out the first mile was sub 10 minutes. Too fast.
It wasn’t long before the field had strung out and I was running on my own. My race, my pace.
Some beautiful trail running leading to CP1. A variety, from well kept forest roads to grassy trails through woodland.
After 1 hour 49 minutes I arrived at CP1, this was at Kielder Castle. There was all sorts available including hot drinks. I decided to top my water up and head off , no need to stop and wait around.
There are some wonderful attractions around Kielder Water including this.
There was a marshall at this point, quite unusual. He instructed me to follow the arrows with the last thing I heard from him being “go straight through the bog”. I been trying really hard to keep my feet as dry as possible, after all this was a 31 mile race. I spotted the bog, looked for a way round it, didn’t appear to be an option. Ah well, wet feet it is. What I did’t expect was wet bollocks! Only 20 miles to go with wet feet.
Still managing a fairly steady pace I was expecting a nice run along the shoreline path. No, the next part of the race was more akin to proper fell running conditions and uphill. This was quite a long slog, but the view from the top was fantastic. I could now see Kielder Dam, this is where CP2 was. A technical run down and I was there, 21 miles done.
I hung around at CP2. Filled my water bottle, had a piece of flapjack and half a cup of black coffee, nice to feel something warm.
From here on the direction arrows also had reflective tape on. I felt quite relieved about this, not that I was going to be out at night but I assumed the terrain would be easier going for the late runners completing the 100km event.
By now my legs were starting to feel it. The last 11 miles was going to be run/walk/run.
After a couple of miles I noticed a runner catching me up. He was competing in the 100km even’t, I recognised him from CP2. Bloody hell I thought, he must be going some to do the extra loop and catch me up.
When he caught me up we started to have a chat, he’d pulled a groin muscle so decided not to do the extra loop. We ran and chatted for the remaining 7 miles, it was nice to have someone push along a little.
With a couple of miles to go I noticed another runner up ahead. With my current strategy of run/walk/run I was catching him slowly.
Eventually I spotted the sign to turn up back towards the start and therefore the finish line. After turning in the next 200m were uphill, sod it! Dig deep and run the last part of the race. By the top of the hill I’d caught and passed the lonely figure from in front. The finishing line comes into sight, fantastic! Ultra done! 6 hours 43 minutes 40 seconds.
Here’s a link to the results.
The moment I stopped moving my legs began to stiffen. The organisers had provided food at the finish, hot soup and bread, lovely.
Now for the 4:15 drive home.