Total Pageviews

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Weald Challenge 50k Race Report.

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!

3 Forts Marathon Race report

This was the 4th time I had entered this iconic race. It is just a couple of days after my birthday so is always a birthday treat to myself. It has been a bit of a comeback from this niggling piriformis injury and every time I go for it and up the mileage, it goes again. This time was about taking it more carefully.

I was joined for the second time this year by my good running buddy and neighbour Jon. Hard to believe that 2 ultra runners live opposite each other in a small street in south London. Here we were setting off in the rain and wind. 2 miles up from the start to Cissbury Ring. I felt OK, but a little short of miles and lack of proper carb load. Jon was off like a rocket. We ran together for the first few miles, me struggling with the drive to push uphill owing to that piriformis and then catching Jon up as the terrain flattened out. We reached the turn at the summit of Devil's Dyke, Jon first and then me, in the fog, driving rain and a fierce wind. After the switchback I saw Helen (who was really suffering with a heavy cold) and then dug deep to get back up the hill to the CP. It was here that I had some form of shoe malfunction. This has happened before to another pair of shoes but unexpected in my inov8s. The inner sole came out of the back of the shoe and dug into my heel. Ouch. Some moments later and we were heading off down the hill. Jon was off like a rabbit again and I only caught up at the next CP when he was waiting up. By St Botolphs I removed both inner soles and (feeling slightly guilty) shoved them down a grid, carrying on with no inners in my shoes. Feet sliding around and reduced cushioning was a pain in the rectum but on we went, from 16-20 miles. At 20, something happened that to my knowledge has never happened before. I got cramp. Both quads, at the same time. This now felt like the seven plagues of Egypt...rain, wind, fog, shoe malfunction and now cramp.

Jon ran on. He had to. I must have been a shit to be with. I could see him up ahead, perhaps 100m or so. My favourite part of the race is up to Chanctonbury, then down, up again and then up again to Cissbury ready for the last 2 miles. We had a chit-chat at the top of Chanctonbury. I hit the skids with another bout of cramp on the way down. Jon went off. I walked down the hill. The cramp subsided so I aimed to put a silver liming on the cloud. I went for it. The last few miles were nearly ticked off. 3 to go.....bang. Cramp again. I was literally on the floor. What the hell? 5 minutes of sitting down and it subsided. I got up.....filled my cerebral hemispheres with the most positive thoughts and chugged out the last 3 miles, thankfully overtaking about 20 people, finishing strong(ish) and only 6 mins behind Jon.

Medals and smiles but a lesson learned. Salt experimentation begins.