Salt tablets and Nuun at the ready, I set off for this 50k with just a handheld and a couple of pocketed gels. I was really looking forward to this trail ultra. I had carb loaded well and felt good in the morning on the drive down to Chiddingly.
After a few bits of race admin it was to the back of the packed field for the start. The first couple of miles I ran with a chatty fella from Heathfield runners but couldn't keep up the pace. Some had gone off at a very fast pace and I wasn't having any of that. The course took in a reverse of the NC50 mile race in which I podiumed 2 years ago so I believed I had a little insider knowledge. We set off up the Wealdway (WW) and back down the Vanguard Way. (VGW) Both tracks are not easy to follow and after running with the first lady and a chap called Glen, we nearly went off track. We got a good clip on and it was no time at all before we got through the first 10 miles. Approaching CP2, I stopped to get a Nuun out from some tin foil in my pocket which had all but disintegrated. I popped this in my handheld and dropped an SCap salt tab for good measure. After a couple of mouthfuls of watermelon I realised the other two had shifted on. 13-16 was basically uphill or very technical wooded trail with plenty of roots and low branches, nettles and brambles. 2 other guys cam straight past me at a speed that I just couldn't fathom out. Me shit or them good? They even asked me if I was OK? I felt fine, just going up the hill in a low gear.
I got to the top for a wonderful open expanse of the Ashdown Forest. 800ft up and with awesome views of the surrounding hills and a line of runners a mile into the distance. At King's Standing an about turn and the route switched from WW to VGW. CP3 was time to snaffle a gel and refill an empty water bottle. Looking at the marshal's timelist, I was in 39th place. 2 runners went past and I settled into a rhythm. Through the woods was just awesome. Wind garlic replacing the last of the bluebells. I overtook a guy, then another and another. I went through 20 miles and felt that all of the rubbish I have been feeling with my running melt away and really enjoyed myself. I ran with Jerome for a couple of miles. This chap oozed positivity. I felt even better. Jerome was on form so I let him go, but then overtook one of the fast guys from earlier. The sun was baking and the views were splendid. This. This is what running is about. I caught up with Glen and we ran together to the 25 mile CP. He was running his first ultra and was suffering a bit. A couple of cokes and I was off up the hill. I picked up a cramping lady who had joined from the marathon course. We had a chit chat and I gave her an SCap. Within 2 mins she had turned from cramping walker, back to runner again. We ran to the final CP and I took on 2 more cokes and had to walk the big hill. The last cuple of miles of the VGW was quite technical and required concentration. I overtook another few runners and then blasted the last mile at about 7.00s to take 31st place.
Really pleased with my performance compared to the last effort on the 3FM. I have since run my first 100k week in 2 years so am getting back to it. Marathon #59 Done!