Off I went. The first couple of miles were 'grind-out' uneventful and then came an awesome view.
This was the NDW in full spleandor and lifted my spirits. At the time it was needed as I was feeling a bit mopey and wasn't really enjoying it. There were a lot of ups and downs across Mickelham Down and Juniper Hill. After a particularly hair raising descent of a few hundred feet I started to get a clip on. However, only 5 miles covered in the first hour meant a long day ahead. Nevertheless, short conversations with other runners during this part allowed me to spend time thinking about important stuff like my new beautiful daughter Audrey and my amazing wife who needs a gold star for letting me out on my first 'daddy ultra pass'. CP1 came and went with a gob-full of Jaffa cakes.
The next hour was slightly quicker and grinding out 5.5 miles this time. I hooked up with a small group of chaps but frustratingly, their navigation was pretty bad and they would run off, get lost and then wait around for people to check with. If I had heard how many extra miles they had already done but 12 miles in, then it was time for me to get away and do my own thing. The mud here was incredible. I caught up with Kelvin at this point, then ran along for a couple of miles with a Dorking and Mole Valley runner who was at Boston when the bomb went off at the marathon. Insane.
After what was clearly now a much less swollen River Mole, all of the surrounding fields yielded muddy water, once the ice had melted.
Muddy bridleways, woods and trail gave way to metalled track for a couple of miles. It was time to get my foot down and once I had crossed a railway and snaffled some gels, my energy levels were up and CP2 came about quickly for a refuel. 3 hours in and 16 miles down. Slow going I know but the mud and surface water slowed everything down. Off road and back onto established Forestry Commission trail, I got chatting with a couple of runners who were quick, but unsure of directions. Jen and her running partner Chris (?) were training up for the NDW50 of which I am laying the markers for James Elson's Centurion Running. Both were fairly new to running but we struck up conversation that lasted for the next 14 miles or so, on and off. This was great as it was about the right time for me as I had been in quiet contemplation and definitely enjoyed listening to their training and experiences. I like to run with my own nav work and it was down to me to do this now. The other two were on my instructions and this was quite nice for me to lead. I took down my last gels between CP2 and 3 and a small mistake here to pack 3 and not 4 or 5. I usually graze at CPs but didn't spend too long today. CP2 was populated by none other than Peter Bowles, fresh from blasting the C2C yesterday. He said that Helen was here, and was there yesterday, although I didn't see her.
I did a small wrong turn here. Luckily not much mileage lost (about 100m) but a total confusion after a missed footbridge. Back on track I hooked up again with the lost couple I had run with before. We got a good clip on and apart from the massive steps and hill up to Steer's Field CP3 at 25.8 miles, all was good. A hot coffee and a blast for the last 4.7 miles. All was going great until the last 2-2.5 miles. being out of sugar (potentially just that one extra missed gel from 25) was the difference between a cameo 7 min miler for the last 2 and changing down a gear for an ultra shuffle in. Determined to get under 6 hours, the last mile was painful and took a little out of my legs. 5 hours 50 for the round, 30.5 on the instructions and I ended up doing 30.74 so hardly any mistakes.
I really enjoyed today, the mud, the run, the weather, the people, but most of all coming home to the family and a big fat roast dinner with brother-in-law and my sisters-in-law. Marathon/Ultra number #46. Done.