I entered this ultra with some trepidation as I have only managed a maximum of 25 miles a week training, most of which with a pram. I did get out last Saturday for 14 miles and felt just about human at the end. The week consisted of me continually asking Cookie and Phil to join me. I had all but given up and then the Cookster text me to state that his entry was in. PB then confirmed her would enter on the day. After a heavy friday night and impromptu heavily boozy picnic in Kensington Gardens, a takeaway and a late late film on the telly, the 3 hours sleep was PERFECT preparation for a 50k run in 28 degree heat with 60% humidity.
There is apparently nothing finer than a Lapsong tea smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel on wholemeal to prep for an ultra and so I did. Had there been any fizz left I would no doubt had quaffed that too, but needs must and I left chez moi at 5.30am to pick up Cookie and get to Greenwich to pick up PB. No sooner we were on the way then banter started. We arrived having not looked at the website start time so 2 rounds of race admin later we were ready to go. The first 5/6 miles up to CP1 were getting away from the urban sprawl of Stevenage and into the beautiful rolling hills of Hertfordshire en-route to Welwyn Garden City. A good clip was achieved, but always in my mind was winding in Cookie who with nervous abandon, wanted to push. Bread pudding to die for was available by the bucketload. I obliged! The next section was essentially a 6 mile loop to take the ultra runners up to 50km whilst allowing the marathoners, starting 45 mins later, to run their run. Good things about this was that we always saw runners, but revisiting the same CP1/2 again was weird! We did stay to photobomb a St Albans Striders photo opp with about 30 other runners. Off we went and having run the course before, but in different parts, recounted previous runs on the same turf. This helped as there were a couple of tricky bits.
Cookie was in his element today, buoyed by the camaraderie and lessons learned from the legend PB and some snippets from yours truly. We took the next CP in no time and spent a time there fuelling up. Water over the head in the churchyard was so welcome. Open ground was hot, humid and unforgiving. Woodland was small respite from the heat. On we ploughed. Seeing Dave Ross and Peter Bowles at the start made me wonder if they had finished but they were not the concern....getting the boys from Gravy Racing Team was. PB had a bit of a bad patch so we spent extra time at CP4 and 5 to let recuperation take effect. Aside from a minor wobble at 12 miles, I felt bizarrely fine for the duration. PB, the Siberian monkey was feeling the heat so urged Cookster and myself on after much protestation. We bimbled off after the 25.7 mile final CP and then got a reasonable ultra-shuffle on until the last couple of miles. Cookie was feeling the heat coming off the big hill at 27 and reminded me every half mile that there SURELY was only a couple of miles to go.....I know there were about 5 but we picked out trees, ran, walked the steep hills and ran again after that all the way to the finish. Only 2 mins from the finish we had some pishy cheap beer on the go and clapped PB over the line about 10/15 mins later. #52 is now in the bag and Gravy Race Team was formed.