Well to break up the drive to Ledbury it was a stop off at Swindon parkrun (well would be rude not to plus I didn`t run for 5 days beforehand). A nice, two lapped undulating course, mainly on track which when dries out promises to bear fast times. I managed to stretch out the legs with a 27:52 time (93 - 8).
After topping up the carbs & liquids at the on-site cafe it was a quick detour to find the last minute bits & bobs for the main event....
Found Eastnor Castle & like most the Land Rover car park without too much of a problem - opps. Soon found the entrance to Deer Park. Saw tents being assembly & found `Stringy` (from RW) who drove down from Newcastle and was well into setting up camp. After a quick natter we started to sort things out. Soon enough more & more runners appeared. Vix & Sarah, RFJ (aka MnM - I`ll let him explain what that means :-) ), 18Monty & Faye. With phal, Stander & Running Beer coming over to say hello. Chatted with Sandra & Ian & the dogs.
I decided for two reasons not to recce the course - 1st being was not to waste energy & the 2nd reason was that the course will be there in the morning & I`ll discover all the nasty bits in the 1st lap (which will help past the time). I spent the time sorted out my gear - vests in one bag, short sleeved tops in another, socks (how many socks did I think I would need) in another - the number of bags were growing. Food & drink was sorted to.
We stayed in the campsite that evening rather than finding the local pub or as I like to think we were acclimatizing to the weather - it was flipping freezing - but we had the larger than normal Moon to keeps our spirits up :-/ I decide to set the alarm at 04:45. I was awake beforehand and I did think it was funny to hear the various alarms going off like the morning chorus.
Breakfast was porridge & black coffee, then it was time for the race briefing - I was nowhere near ready - not even in my race gear or been to the loo 8 times.....After a lot of flaffing I managed to get to the start line with 7 seconds to go - yes the person who bangs on about getting to races early & I get there with 7 seconds to go - gulp.
Basically the course - 1Km out of the main field, then uphill with a ditch, through some trees & gently downward section & then up a steep climb to a gate. 2Km was up and down and around the Obelisk - tough opening 2Km. The 3km is much gently on the quads and where you could actually run. 4th Km included 2 fairly steep downhill sections & the climb up to the tree line to the water station. The hard stony track was at 1st welcomed during the 5Km bit did include a steep climb to the marshals point at the top. The 6th Km was a `technically area` marked off through the trees and tracks. 7th was along a section of the road where you could see the Start / Finish. 8th Km was flat and back along the fields. 9th was just heading back to the top of the main field. So a tough little course, measuring just over 9 Km (5.69M) & you do get to see the castle & the beauty of the Malvern Hills.
(Generally I walked most of the 1st Km, hills up during the 2nd Km, the small uphill from the lake up to the tree line before the water station (I ran to & from the WS) & up the hill at the end of the stony track.)
During the first lap things settled down fairly quickly - you could roughly tell the soloists & those who were in a team – some I`m sure were actually flying. I decided fairly early on that I started off wearing too much & that I was going to change out from my Mizuno Wave Harriers after one lap. I had always planned to stop after each lap. Soon enough I arrived at the start / finish area - I went through the timing mats (meaning any down time was added unto the next lap). I dropped off the gear I didn`t need & changed into my Brooks GTS10 (which did include the gel heel) - a quick update on FB (in which I did mention what was the highlight of the 1st lap)
(Note - thanks to everyone who left comments on my status FB - I did update it on each lap only for the sake of my own sanity really)
I was fairly happy with my time - it was hillier than I expected and my `pre-race - not-seeing the course` target of 60 miles was not going to happen (I expected laps to be over 6 miles and not so tough so 11 laps was out of the window). I quickly re-addressed this to 57 miles or so. 57 miles - looking back I still find that a bit nuts but it wasn`t miles it was just laps & time - the miles were just a by-product of those two.
I really tried to juggle the stops between clothing change and food stops so at the end of Lap 2 it was time to start nibbling (I had already taken a gel at 14Km). The camp site seemed so empty I felt like a right slacker breaking off from running.
Lap 3 was change of tops, I had thought of changing socks but thought better of it. Quick drink and away I went. Hearing the guy reading out the race positions was good. I was good to strike up some banter with the marshals & helpers - this pattern followed each lap really.
Some memorable splits (I think) - 20M in 4 hours, 26.2M in around 5hrs 20mins.
Towards the end of lap 6 I found it tough going - with a mile left or so I had met with `Stringy` who had done really well - his goal was reached - 5 laps - his 1st ultra (& his 1st marathon) so he was well happy. I was hurting all over, getting a touch of cramp when I increased the pace a little. I thought about declaring but decided just a longer stop - food, wash, clean clothes, chat, coffee etc. One more lap to 40 & now this is my longest run (furthest before was 32.75M - twice) was how I was thinking & then it`s downhill from then.
The break had done me well & soon found myself back out there.
Lap 7 was I guess was the one I enjoyed most - I even started to think about if I picked up the pace could I get an extra lap in and end with 10 laps & getting to a double marathon (crazy thoughts) - at this stage it was looking like 9 laps thou.
Soon enough 10 hours were up - a big milestone as I could only get 2 laps in. I wanted to finish no later than 30 minutes of 12 hours really. One more lap Mrs Wembley I thought as I headed off. This last lap I found was very draining esp the last 3Km seeing the finish, hearing the megaphone, hearing the clapping but sure enough the finish came into sight. Sandra & one of her dogs passed me with a 1Km – I quickly dismissed a sprint finish :-).
I entered the top of the field - heard shouts & went through the finish as odd as it sounds feeling quite fresh. Patrick, the RD was there to shake the hands of the finishers which I thought was a great touch - as was the fact they tapped off the course to stop you going round again.
I pretty much downed the coffee that was handed to me - thanks. Shook out the legs and in a bit of daze grabbed some food & collected my finishing memento & watched the prize giving.......
I later learnt that Vixx, who had fallen quite badly early on had gone through the ultra marathon distance with 5 laps – so another pleasing result there.
In the evening it was nice to have a beer & a chat & chill.
Laps & data;
Lap 1 - 00:58:04 (5.7M)
Lap 2 - 01:06:29 (11.4M)
Lap 3 - 01:10:49 (17.1M)
Lap 4 - 01:11:02 (22.8M)
Lap 5 - 01:19:42 (28.5M)
Lap 6 - 01:46:42 - big stop (34.2M)
Lap 7 - 01:32:40 (39.9M)
Lap 8 - 01:33:51 (45.6M)
Lap 9 - 01:30:31 (51.3M)
Total of 51.43 Miles in 12 hours 09 minutes & 47 seconds & 3 blisters.
12th Place in the Individual Men
Full Results - http://www.provelosupport.co.uk/?page_id=127
Roughly what I ate & drank -
3 x Mullur Rice (2 strawberry & 1 original)
3 x Jaffa Cake bars
1 x 500ml Bottle of flat coke
2 x 500ml Lucozade (1 x raspberry & 1 caffeine)
1 x High 5 Energy Source 4:1 drink
2 x High 5 Energy Source 4.1 bars
2 x Gels
2 x Black strong coffees (with extra sugar)
2 x Cheese burgers.....at the end,
Feeling better for this year`s Dartmoor Discovery & maybe even Caesars Camp 50 at the end of the year. Shame I didn`t bag the double marathon but not bad effort for my 1st long ultra but at least I now have a new 12 hour PB.......................to go and beat :-)
Damage wise - When I run I must roll over on my right ankle as it`s quite sore or I was trying to protect the 3 blisters I picked up on the inside of the same foot. My biggest worry pre-race was the `Achilles tendon` after changing shoes at the end of the 1st lap was quite calm. Also had a sore forefinger where my thumb was rubbing on it as I ran - to the delight of some folks. As for DOMS - I`ve had worse by doing a certain half marathon up & down Box Hill !!!
Next up - some rest (inc getting social life back in order) with only light jogging at the next couple of parkruns..