All did not go well.
I managed to find myself at the front in a small group of runners for the first few kilometres, but by about 8km I was just running (and chatting) at the front with a guy called Dave. By around 14km we were being caught by some of the 20 mile runners who’d started 15 minutes after us and found out we were a few minutes ahead of the nearest 35 mile runner which was cool. We were just banging out 4:40/kms give or take, which felt good, and having a good natter along the way was really passing the time.
Then at about 20km my stomach started cramping up in a pretty bad way. Dave ran on while I headed for the bushes, emerging a few minutes later, a touch lighter, but in no less pain. The next four or five km were like running with a bowling ball in my stomach, I was in absolute agony. I made another bush stop, and stopped again at a random (but gratefully received) portaloo.
By the time I got to the start/finish checkpoint with one 15 mile lap to go I was a mess. I stopped to make sure someone took my number and one of the marshals asked if I needed first aid, so I must’ve looked about as bad as I felt. I stumbled through and on for the last lap though, just wanting to get it over with and go home.
I trudged on, and then started to feel a lot better. The pain in my stomach was easing, my legs were trashed but not getting any worse, and the end was getting closer. I was struggling to work out what time I was on for what with all the stops, and had spent so much time off the course I had no idea what place I was in, so the pressure was off in that respect which I think helped too.
I chatted with a couple of the 50 mile runners as I passed them in the last 10km or so, and was actually starting to feel pretty good. I was ticking along at 5:00/km pace or thereabouts, but the closer I got to the finish the more I knew I was well outside of my goal time.
I crossed the line in 5:16, and saw Dave who’d won in 5:01, congratulated him, and hung around for a bit to see some of the other runners come in. Turns out I was 3rd, shortly followed by James Young who came in 4th after having a similarly tough day. We had a bit of a natter, and then I cleared off to get home.
I was a bit disappointed, but more about the fact that I hadn’t enjoyed it than with the result. It was my 14th ultra/marathon this year, and only the second one where I’ve had a truly horrible time, so I’m not doing too bad on that score I guess.
In terms of the race, I’m not sure I’ll do it again. There was nothing wrong with it, biggish loops, nice surroundings, easy navigation, couple of water stops etc. but there wasn’t anything to really stand out for me in terms of going back. 35 miles isn’t a PB I care about, and there are definitely other 50 milers I want to do for the first time before I go back to do this one.
Anyway, next stop Nottingham for a tarmac enema (road marathon), then a couple of weeks off racing before the good stuff starts again.