I woke up at 4.45am and proceeded to stuff my face with bananas, coffee and ready brek before getting into the car and whizzing down to Eastling in the deepest darkest North Kent countryside. A beautiful place to finish an ultra....but no doubt it would be in the dark. Arriving at the start it was clear to see that Race Director Mike Jones had clearly learned from the Norman Conquest 50 and there was a plethora of Coke, Water and an assortment of snacks and savouries that even James Elson of Centurion Running would be in awe of. Even the race brief, the notes, the atmosphere was far more professional than the NC50 which was really good to see. I was impressed by how different it was. Race briefing at 7.15am was a sombre affair, as was the hour-long coach ride to Gravesend, where apart from a few of us chortling at the back, the rest were silent.
Arriving at Gravesend we were greeted by a mist that set in, like a pea-souper. This was truncated by a realisation that we were about to run 60 miles and polite conversation ensued and some cameraderie developed. Then the rain set in. It was here to stay for the longevity of my run. The run that was to end much sooner than planned.
So, after an eventful cab journey with what can only be described as (a lanky binman) an experience, I arrived at race HQ and spent some time conversing with the Race Director's sister who was utterly supportive and brilliant and hopefully did not see the bad side of my DNF. Evolution is a wonderful thing and I definitely think the the team around the Ultra-Trails brand have learned lessons from there issues around the NC50. I am now confident that this is a brand that will be a growing force in Ultra running. Race directions do need some work on but evolution is about moving forward. I have offered my services to support from a race marshalling point of view. I really appreciated that conversation, particularly as I was cold, wet and low after the DNF.
My hopes go out to the rest of the crews and runners and hope the event went as smoothly as it started. I arrived home to a hot bath and a lovely dinner party with some amazing friends that I would not have seen had I completed the race. However, I am confident that this would have been another podium had I not been race ready. Since I have woken up this morning the pain in the rear has subsided and I will be seeking out someone to fix the problem over the next few week. A DNF is a DNF and I've had a couple this year, but there are more races and it's not worth longer term damage.