Ultra Running & Reviews

Race Report “Country to Capital 45 Mile Ultra” Saturday 16th January 2010

by on Jan.18, 2010, under Race Reports

the finish of the country to capital 45 mile ultra 2010

This was to be my first time running the Country to Capital 45 mile ultra. The race starts from Wendover, Aylesbury to Little Venice in London. We arrived at Premier Inn, Hemel Hempstead the night before and from there made our way to the start at 8:30am. I wasn’t hoping for a great time on this one, just to make the finish comfortably & without injury. I’d taken 3 weeks rest from my normal training schedule just to get some mental & physical rest from the constant training over the past few months. I’d also overindulged at Christmas & somehow managed to put on 2 stone! Probably due to eating the same as usual & doing very little training because of the snow. I did however manage to put in 3 x 10 mile runs and one 22 miler (not much fun on ice) before the race which together with the fitness carried over would have to be enough.

As we set off I could feel the extra weight straight away, just didn’t feel as good as usual. I talked for the first mile or so with my fellow JOGLE’ers Neil Bryant, Mark Cockbain & Robert Treadwell then settled into my stride. I decided to go a little slower than usual just to make sure I finished & before the cut-off time. I had in mind a time of around 10 hours as the following weekend I’d be doing another 90 miles, 2 x 45 mile ultras on Saturday and Sunday.

Luckily the rain had washed most of the snow from the course which just left a few stubborn pockets of ice here & there, it was however very muddy and wet. I always try to keep my feet dry on long runs as they tend to go soft and blister more easily. On this occasion however this proved to be impossible. At one point we had to wade through freezing water over a foot deep.

Just before the first checkpoint at Chesham the group of runners I was with got lost. When we reached the road to ask a local if he’d seen any runners with numbers on he said yes, but they were going in the opposite direction! We were all given maps to navigate the course which many runners (myself included) thought were printed on water proof paper. The first time I needed the map I discovered it wasn’t & had turned to mush in my pocket! Luckily my SatMap was with me and I found my way back on to the right track. It was so wet even the stuff which is normally kept dry by my Camelback was wet through. Just before checkpoint 2 at Horn Hill I decided to take my coat off as it was so wet inside it just couldn’t get any wetter.

The runners had already started to thin out and I was running on my own again. My main aim was to make it to The Grand Union Canal without getting too lost as it was just a case of following it to Little Venice & the finish. Looking down at my new Garmin Forerunner to see how many miles I’d done I was surprised to see only 7 miles! This cant be right, something had gone wrong. I kept an eye on it for a couple of miles & it stayed at 7 miles. Pressing every button on it whilst running on mud was not the easiest thing in the world & didn’t seem to make any difference to the mileage. I tried to turn it off but it wouldn’t go off either! I decided to just leave it and use my SatMap to record my miles.

all finishers got a nice tech t-shirt

tech t-shirt (back)

The next checkpoint was 3 at Cowley Peachy, I was looking forward to this one as it would be savouries to eat instead of the jelly babies & fruit cake of the other checkpoints. Another reason to look forward to this CP was it was the first one on the canal. As I approached I could see some of the runners who had passed me earlier. It must have looked quite strange to anyone passing by to see so many runners huddled together under a bridge eating cake & meat pies. It seemed to raise our spirits having some food and a bit of company for a few minutes. I had been unwell the night before & had lost my appetite but as the race went on it came back. I stopped under the canal bridge for just long enough to eat a meat pie & some fruit cake washed down with a bottle of Lucozade sport. Never been a big fan of jelly babies but I put a few in my pocket for later, just in case. As I reached round for my pocket I noticed my Garmin had started working again, maybe it was the cold or wet but it’s been OK since.

country to capital medal 2010

It felt good to be on the canal & not to have to worry about navigation, I settled down and started to enjoy the run a bit more. I was surprised how many Herons stood on the tow-path, as I ran by they didn’t even try to fly away. They seemed tame compared to the ones where I live.

The next CP was Greenford & yet more fruit cake & jelly babies, I was starting to like the fruit cake and had 4 pieces. Filled my Camelback with water & set off for the next checkpoint. Leaving behind most of the runners who passed me earlier felt good but it was to be short lived! I thought I heard someone running behind me & when I looked around it was three of the runners I’d left at Greenford CP. They passed me in quick succession, asking me how I was. I said fine & they went on their way. A couple of miles down the path they were walking & I asked how they were. Just after I passed them they started running and caught me again, passing me and off into the distance again. Two miles down the path they were in sight again, walking. As I ran passed they told me they were on a run walk strategy. We caught & passed each other a few more times until it started to break my concentration. Everyone who’s ever run long distance knows how this constant overtaking and slowing can wear you down. I decided this time I wanted to pass & make it stick! I picked up my pace and caught up but when they started running to catch me I kept going just a fraction faster. Just enough to stay in front, but in the back of my mind I knew this was not a good idea for my race overall. It’s easy to crash and have to walk or not finish at all by going just a bit too fast. This time though I got away with it & left them behind.

not too bad for 45 miles in the wet, no blisters!

I reached CP 5 Alperton about 30 minutes ahead of my planned time due to speeding up. More fruit cake & water and some chocolate this time, don’t know if it’s psychological or not but chocolate always seems to lift my spirits. Just as I was closing the top on my water bottle I saw some runners rounding the corner, it was the three from before! I quickly gathered my things together and set off fastening my buckles on my pack as I ran.

By this time it was starting to get dark & I could see in the distance the three head torches. I’d been doing the same pace for miles, they must have speeded up! For one last time I increased my pace slightly, just enough to maintain the gap. It was now getting too dark to run without my head torch so I put it on as I ran so as not to lose any time.

I started looking for the finish, not sure how many miles I’d run because of the problem with my Forerunner earlier. It said I’d run 38 and I added this to the 10 miles I thought the GPS had missed to give me around 48 so the finish must be near allowing for a few wrong turns. As I rounded the corner I saw in the distance the flag with the GoBeyond logo and started sprinting just in case anyone was in within range! I finished in 8:58:58 a full hour under my predicted time, result!

Happy Running!

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