Marathon 12 – Wye Valley Ultra 50 miler – March 2011

Just 10 days prior to the last Ultra-Marathon in the Series from MightContainNuts (30, 40, 50 miles), Ray and I met at Glasbury (near Hay-On-Wye/Hereford) and drove to Builth Wells to recce the final 16 miles, as some of it would be in the dark on race day. It proved a great training run and gave us the confidence that the last 9 miles were flat compared to the 41 miles before.

Met Vicky (and her friend Barry) at Bristol, and she drove to Glasbury where we met Ray and Steve (who ran with us in the 40 mile run in December and is now running the Lakeland 50 with Andy and I). A lot of talk about the course, the weather, recent runs, future runs, etc and this continued to the pub where we had a hot meal and hot dessert, the calories and carbohydrates much needed for the running ahead!

All in sleeping bags in a bunkhouse and asleep by 9pm as we had to be up at 5am to eat and gather running equipment (rucksack holds food, drink, waterproof jacket, map, compass, hat, survival blanket, whistle, etc). Coach left at 6am to drive to the start (it is a 50 mile run) ready to start at 0730.

Half asleep on the coach and sipping an energy drink to wake me up and water to keep me hydrated. 2228 metres of ascent ahead of us and, well 50 miles! Hill climbing started with 300 metres and I was soon running with Barry, while ahead were Ray, Vicky and Steve. Within the first 7 miles it was clear that it was going to be a long, hard slog to the finish. The water crossing and 7 miles had Barry and Ray putting black bin liners over their shoes to avoid wet feet!

Whilst, waiting for them to cross, Steve and Vicky had gone on ahead, not to be seen again 43 miles later! Running alongside the reservoirs meant it was flat for a while but there were plenty of big hills to climb and Barry’s legs were tired as he trained in January but not much in February (he works 10 night shifts in a row sometimes). On the climbs I started to play some motivation music from my Blackberry, from Lady Gaga to Star Wars Theme and Opera. It didn’t work and Barry had to concede defeat at the 22 mile checkpoint, he wanted to save his legs for a mountain marathon in Greece a fortnight later. This left Ray and I with 28 miles to complete together, I think we’ve done this a few times over the last 10 months! Further calculation shows that I have completed 11 of the last 13 marathons or ultra-marathons with Ray, we were going to make the finish 😀

It was time to turn the stopwatch on (battery life 6-7 hours) and this was to calculate how far to go and the current pace / average pace we were running. A brilliant purchase Just another 12 miles and we would arrive at Builth Wells and we knew the rest of route having run it 10 days prior, happy days!

I admit to not remembering much of this route as I was concentrating so much on one foot in front of the other, eating and drinking to keep tiredness away. Getting to the checkpoint with 8.5 miles to go before dark was the objective and with food running out, peanuts and a half a Club biscuit was a most welcoming site. With headtorches on and watch re-set we set a goal of a minimum 4 miles per hour meaning 2 hours and about 7 minutes to the finish line, in the dark. We ran surprisingly well on a road stretch for 2 miles and I calculated we would make it within 13 hours and we plodded and encouraged each other to make it to the finish just within time.

Steve finished in 11:36 and Vicky 12:21, saving her legs for the Greece Mountain Marathon she is running/crawling with Barry in a fortnight. Full results

Time for a hot shower, hot food and a catch up to see how the other runners felt. It was a real struggle at the end but another massive achievement for me as I hadn’t felt great beforehand and training has only been 8 weeks back from injury. A confidence booster for The Fellsman This will be a tough, mega-challenge with self-navigation of a 60 mile route in the Yorkshire Dales, in 2 months’ time with Ray and Steve.

Before this though is Marathon 13 and 14, Chagford Challenge (30 miles on Dartmoor) and Virgin London Marathon in 2 weeks and 5 weeks respectively. Plenty of time to sponsor me on my 10 marathons in 10 months for Children With Leukaemia. I have done 12 already 😀