Last July, I entered an “Ultramarathon”. I must’ve been on a running high because the furthest I’d run was a half marathon, but it seemed like a suitable challenge! The race was the “Canalathon”, the course starting close to my flat in Manchester City and weaving its way along the canal to Soweby Bridge in Yorkshire, a total of 50km. Clearly that wasn’t enough for some people who took the 75km and 100km options, but 50 was enough for me!
Time rolled around and suddenly it was 27th March 2016 and I was up at stupid-o’clock (not helped by the clock going forward) loitering in a retail estate car park on the outskirts of Manchester along with a few hundred other runners.
After a quick race briefing (run 50km that way *points*) we were off. I know these canals well and knew they would soon get clogged so got myself in a good starting position and settled in to a comfortable (although faster than planned) pace. I’m not going to etch out every detail so I’ll try and summarise in blocks: –
- 0-10km – What the hell time is it? When did I agree to this? 50km seems an awful long way.
- 10-20km – This is awesome, I’m a hero!!!!
- 20-30km – Past half-way, and I’ve got to do that again!!!?
- 30-40km – “Only” 20km left. Eating anything anyone is offering you and that I can find in my bag.
- 40-50km – Everything hurts.
There was great support all round the course and it really helps to get some cheering when you’re at a low-point. I really do appreciate the organisers/volunteers who give up their time to make these things happen – standing out in the cold on a canal by Rochdale all day really does take some dedication!
Then suddenly it was over. I didn’t actually realise I was at the finish point so had to be told to stop! And that was that, after many months of tough training, endless talking about it to anyone who would listen, it was all over.
I definitely wanted to finish under 5 hours but I ended in position 15 of 166 finishers with a time of 4:26:35, so a great result for me! Link to Results
Before and After (for some reason I seem to have to lean to the right)
Lyme Park Night Run 6km
I wrote most of this back in January after the race but didn’t get round to posting, so here it is.
Lyme Park…….. A glorious escape from city centre life, perfect for a summers day picnic or a cheek flushing stroll to try and catch a view of some deer. That’s why I was there on a cold, dark, wet Saturday night along with 300 or so others excitedly strapping on a head torch.
This was part of the National Trust night run series, with both a 3km and 6km route available. The former mainly consisting of family/younger entries with the big boys and girls braving the longer distance. We lined up cautiously quite far from the start line which I instantly regretted when we started as it took quite some effort to get over the line, around the crowds and into some kind of position where I could get up to a proper pace. This was a squelchy mud bath with 3-4 punishing hills. The biggest difference I noticed with night running in muddy conditions is that in the light you subconsciously plan the optimum clearer path. With just the extent of torch light there is no such luxury so any wrong choice can take you deeper into the mud.
It was all over some 31 mins later with the last km being pretty much completely on my own, no one snapping at my heels and no chance of catching anyone in front so came in with no idea where i was in the ranking. The results came up on Sunday showing is placed 6th, but then having another look on Monday and five people were suddenly added in front of me, so 11th it was…. Slightly gutting (especially as I excitedly posted by best ever race position to FB!) but such is life. My running buddy, Michelle, came in first female by over a minute, which is a fantastic result. So we got drunk after and talked about any other fun challenges that may be loitering out there! Post run recovery real-ale of course :-S