I`ve been looking forward to this one for ages as heard many a good things about this one - it`s put on for a good reason plus it`s a 30 miler - which after 10 mile races is my favourite running distance (must be from where my first 2 marathons - let alone ultra marathons (Caesar`s Camp Midnight 30 & Doyen of the Downs) were 30 milers plus it`s easy it`s a heck of a lot easier to work out on the gel situation - every 5 miles - simples).
So come race week...and I get a sore throat - great!
Drove up to Birmingham and found the hotel (Etap) without problems - alas didn`t find the kettle in the room so easily thou so after a quick shopping trip a kettle was purchased meaning I could have my breakfast when I wanted (6.00 am) * Next morning I packed up & checked out nice and early (the sore throat had eased) - saw a mass of Yellow & Black covered pirates at the hotel. We had bright blue skies - OK the man got it wrong at the Great North but redeemed myself very well for this one.
I was leaving my car at the Pavilion & catching the coach to the start. Have to say when I went past `Cadbury World` I was rather disappointed that it`s not made of chocolate. Anyway parked up, fluffed around for a bit said hello to GF & LJB1 and got onto the coach. It was quite `odd` seeing actual faces of forums people - none of which looked anything like their aviators or how I imagined they would be. Coached trip, despite very pleasant conversation it did seem to take a while to get there (hope I didn`t bore you too much Lalli). Disembarked and was met with even more Fetchies & Pirates - not many had names on but at least I knew a couple. Soon enough it was bags away, race numbers in place & route cards into hands and off to the starting area (Rail Carriage cafe) we went.
One thing I have learnt & look forward to is that the starts are normally all very causal & a bit of a laugh - which is great. After some type of count down we were off. The first bit was all very jolly - along the track cutting back along the side of a field, down through a wooded section - down some steps (thank goodness we ran that way rather than running up them) and unto the canal. Saw a man doing Tai chi in the sun on the opposite canal bank - made me think of chi running points & relaxed a bit more. Went past the food show - all very cruel running past freshly cooked bacon. Before we knew it we had run just over 2 miles already (mind you I had already lost count of the number of swans). Stafford seems a very nice place - esp in the sun. Went passed a pirate cheering point - they have everything - balloons, banners, headbands - all the clothing you will every need.
At this stage I could see GF & Gritts a little way ahead so I increased my pace a fraction & caught up - I don`t mind running by myself but company is always nice. The miles ticked past - 5 miles down & first gel down - blooming heck 45 mins in :-O ...still feeling OK.. I had aimed for 5 hrs (6 miles per hour) - so just under 10 mins ahead. It was nice to run with the sun on your back. The canals boats, locks & aqueduct did make a nice distraction to just running along the towpath, some nice houses too.
Coming up to the first checkpoint - it was touch & go - I think if we `stopped` for 10 seconds then I`m over stating things (10 miles down in 1 hr 30 mins). Still with GF & Gritts - really good company but I knew that GF had run a trillion miles this year already & was running very well recently & Gritts seemed a very fast runner so I knew at some stage I would bail out from the back but I was OK with that. We went through the `13.1M` stage at around 1 hrs 57 mins - OK I know my 26.2M PB is fairly weak (3:59:68) but still I don`t think you are meant to get a marathon PB during an ultra - bit concerned when I thought of it like that!
I think it was half way at 2 hrs 16 mins ---- mmmmm --- but from the photos I didn`t look too bad (even if I say so myself)
As it happened at around 16.6M at one of the locks where you cross over I had to clear my shoe of stones by the time I looked up the dust from GF & Gritts had settled - they were long gone. That was ok, time for a little walk break plus some running repairs - legs & feet were fine but my nips were getting very warm so out came the vaseline - bliss. A quick update on FB and off I went again.
Pushed on - only a few miles till the second checkpoint (breaking the distances down seems to be the way - gel every 5, then a couple of miles to a checkpoint etc). Ironically when I set off by myself I was too fast ! Saw another runner in front & we swopped places a number of times - through the muddy section. Saw the second checkpoint - massive cheers from there plus the from the pub & from Pestomum (thanks) - collected my Lucozade and off I went. Another trigged point came shortly up - 3 hrs 15 mins - roughly 21 miles down. Only a few miles left now but my long run completed. Played `leap frog` with a few more runners now - saw a couple of very fresh looking relay runners go zooming past....
I knew that Yeti would be somewhere soon - 25 or 26 Miles. Soon enough just after the bridge at 25 miles I saw her - which was really great. Stopped and had a chat - I did see a couple of runners sneak past - never mind. After a few minutes I carried on as I didn`t want too get cold. I only had just over 4 miles left plus I tend to take a walk break just after the 26.2M point away (which I did - around 4 hrs 22 mins or so - still a sub 4:30 marathon).
At 27 M I found myself walking up slope - a runner came along side & I asked how she was and she swore at me :-O well it turns out she had never run this far before (see there are others who run ultras before marathons - OK maybe not 3 of them but still I am normal). Helpful & cheerful marshal at the top who directed us down towards the canal. We only had a couple of miles left. I was thinking I could just about sneak at sub 5 & over take 4 runners who were just in front of me.....
As it happened I left it a bit late & the finish came into view - tied to pose for the camera and with a huge cheer I went passed the balloons (I don`t recall being told to stop running) but anyway ultra number 4 completed (& 6th marathon). It is amazing that you don`t feel all those miles when you have finished.
1) - 1m - 8:49(8:49/m) - 139cal
2) - 1m - 9:44(9:44/m) - 135cal
3) - 1m - 8:54(8:54/m) - 142cal
4) - 1m - 8:54(8:54/m) - 140cal
5) - 1m - 8:51(8:51/m) - 139cal
6) - 1m - 8:55(8:55/m) - 141cal
7) - 1m - 9:20(9:20/m) - 141cal
8) - 1m - 8:49(8:49/m) - 142cal
9) - 1m - 9:05(9:05/m) - 141cal
10) - 1m - 8:39(8:39/m) - 141cal
11) - 1m - 8:53(8:53/m) - 140cal
12) - 1m - 8:47(8:47/m) - 140cal
13) - 1m - 8:48(8:48/m) - 141cal
14) - 1m - 8:45(8:45/m) - 140cal
15) - 1m - 8:49(8:49/m) - 138cal
16) - 1m - 9:23(9:23/m) - 139cal
17) - 1m - 11:46(11:46/m) - 130cal (WB)
18) - 1m - 8:54(8:54/m) - 141cal
19) - 1m - 9:22(9:22/m) - 142cal
20) - 1m - 10:20(10:20/m) - 141cal
21) - 1m - 10:22(10:22/m) - 140cal
22) - 1m - 13:56(13:56/m) - 147cal (WB)
23) - 1m - 11:16(11:16/m) - 136cal
24) - 1m - 11:47(11:47/m) - 130cal
25) - 1m - 10:55(10:55/m) - 134cal
26) - 1m - 15:59(15:59/m) - 140cal (Chatting)
27) - 1m - 13:51(13:51/m) - 126cal (WB)
28) - 1m - 10:16(10:16/m) - 139cal
29) - 1m - 10:05(10:05/m) - 136cal
30) - 0.22m - 1:53(8:35/m) - 28cal
Final time - 4:54:08 - so managed to sneak under the wanted 5 hrs plus graped a 28 mins PB
A personalised goody bag was given to me - how cool is that - and the conversation turned towards the energy drink inside "Pussy" - what a good idea as it certainly kept the sprits up, also a nice running `JW Ultra` vest.
It was good to see Yeti at the finish and we waited till the last runner came home. I wander back to car at the Pavilions & in time for the prize giving - I do love this part esp at the smaller event where you can feel how much personal pride, passion & commitment the RD`s have got for their event rather than the huge business run events if you know what I mean. The speeches had not disappointed me - quite moving for me knowing what`s coming up.
I do my fair share of events and I`m struggling to think of a better one so well done to Sharon, Ed, Mark & LJB1, all the marshals & helpers, the `other Mr K` on the camera & the other runners - this is a truly wonderful event & MUST DO event - even if you do the relay but don`t tell everyone as it hard enough already to get a place.
Some cracking photos on here thou ( http://www.theracephotographer.com/JWUltra2010/index.htm ) Should have taken some photos too - I guess there is always next year for that plus I think I could go say 15 to 20 mins quicker.
Edit - From RW....
"Well done Sharon and Mark. it took my 5 minutes longer than last year must be my age! still I think 4:58:05 for an over 70 isn't to bad and my 158th marathon/ultra. think I will be around to do it next year. hope to see you in January!! "
Remarkable running - good for him.
Next up - Autumn Surrey Spitfire 20 this Sunday (maybe 3:15 - 3:20) then maybe a little taper for Abingdon....I still know what time I shall aim for at Abingdon - would not mind a PB - but I know I have Athens at the end of October too.
PS I wore road shoes for this one.
PPS Anybody want to buy a kettle?