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Sunday, 2 May 2010

Race report; Sarsen Trail; Neolithic Marathon

Well the weather deteriorated after I left London and the temp dropped to 8 degrees and I felt woefully under-dressed but high spirited as I bumped into Dave Immune about a minute after I dropped the car in the car park at Stonehenge. Point-to-Point races are for me a much better oddessey than a circuit and I had half an eye on the hills as we departed Stonehenge by coach and the other on the conversation with Dave, plotting tactics, strategies and game plans from now until the Ridgeway 85.

Avebury at 9.30am in the rain is a quaint place. Within minutes we had bumped into Capricorn (who muct have been on fire as we didn't see her the whole way round and usually she overtakes me in the last 10k!) and Robbie. The cramped registration centre gave way to a wet and windy start line with 300+ souls setting off for Stonehenge. Immune and I stuck to the back......we were thinking of the training run, the long slow miles and preparing for the summer.

After the first mile, I wished I had worn the trail shoes. After the second mile I was cursing out loudly as I slip-slided across the undulations. Fairly early on Immune latched on to Anna, the Vegan Runners club runner who was in this month's RunnersWorld for a conversation and tips about going long. She is running 10 in 10 at Brathay next week so was taking it easy. We exchanged conversation about nutrition, tapering and loads more. Robbie then took off like a rat up a drainpipe up a long hill at 8s. In tow, until the top I slowed and took the option of putting my top back on as it was FREEEEEEZING as we came over the Neolithic hill fort. It was at this point I opted for a long grass descent to enable me to get a grip as a number of runners and a poor cyclist had taken tumbles. I hit a metal spike, possibly a fence post with my right shoe and unbeknown to me had ripped a huge hole in my shoe.

After the 6 mile mudslide of 10s+ I said that to Dave that I was feeling good and he was to. In an attempt to claw back many lost minutes at styles, gates and slippy hills we went a bit nuts and ran at 8s for a while. One toilet stop and a catch up with Immune was actually a 7.07 mile!

The undulating hills were pretty relentless punctuated only by regular drinks stops and the very occasional steep hill walk break. From mile 7 there was no-one that overtook us that we didn't repass, exchange pleasantries with and speed past. In fact we were lolloping with such aplomb that we had to reign ourselves in for a few sub 8s. Halfway saw a 2.02 and we had by that juncture decided that the LSR was going to be an attempt at a sub 4.00. This meant a negative split. Only one thing could have aided our journey more and that was the piss-stop at 17. Many walkers were around so the knee-hign stinging nettles stung our legs back into shape and got the blood flowing like some crazy mid run acupunture!!

During my last ultra I had not used enery gels but Buzz bars (essentially sugary and nutty flapjacks) and each has 300 kcal. All organic and no rubbish at all in them. Much more palatable than gels. I might email and ask them to sponsor us on the Ridgeway! Dave and I shared one and maintained our pace at about 8.30s for most of the journey towards Stonehenge. Up to Larkhill was tough and a few 9s and then into the wind for a mile before turning for home. Through Larkhill we managed a 7.40 and at one point we 7.13s and must have passed 50 or so runners in the last 10 miles. The last mile was a toughy and with the finish out of sight under the megalith that is Stonehenge a nervous pair glanced at the watches to calibrate what was required in the last mile but all was not required as we had made up plenty of time and crossed the line in 3.57. A 5 minute negative split was celebrated with a cider and acup of tea. Fantastic race and a couple of things learned;

1. George's Game Watermelon energy powder drink is very palatable and no cramp whatsoever.

2. Thanks to my Bro for the compression socks for my birthday last week

3. Buzz bars keep you going and you don't feel sick like with gels

4. Beetroot juice as an antioxidant the day before is fantastic and it makes your piss purple!

5. Negative splits are the new black


  1. Excellent run Rob, you really are on form at the moment and a great time for such horrible conditions.

    Glad to see that you had at least one wardrobe change during the run ;-)

  2. I had a ward[rob]e malfunction with a spike and now have to get a new pair of shoes. BTW Mrs UB is crewing for us on the Ridgeway and so there will be clothes changes aplenty!