Winter 100 Race Report

 

 

Disclaimer – I’m a very average runner (hence the name of the blog)…this is not the exciting story of a toned athlete smashing out huge mileage at great speeds, but rather the story of a bloke that ran a bit and tried to eat loads at the same time.

Second disclaimer – Alot of this lengthy race  report was fuelled by red wine, pain killers, and a sarcastic sense of humour, and completed mainly late at night.  I apologise now for the cowpat pictures.

Anyway, here we go….

 After a successful run in the summer, where I went into the 145 mile GUCR well-trained, with an organised crew, on a well-recce’d route, and had a great time…..it seemed time to do a run all by myself, with no crew or help, with a complacent attitude (after all, 100 miles is less than GUCR right?, so easier then…) and see what would happen.

 In fact, this race was really designed as a backup for me, just in case my ‘A’ race, GUCR in the summer, went wrong. I’d heard a lot of good things about how well organised the Centurion runs were (and how much food there was at the aid stations), and as I had an entry ready, it seemed rude not to do it, even though I wasn’t particularly focussed on it.. It was very much a ‘just for fun’ run.

The Winter 100 is 4×25 mile out-and-back spurs (pretty much along each point of the compass) along two trail paths (the Ridgeway and Thames Path) that intersect at Goring-on-Thames, a very posh village in Oxfordshire (how did I know it was posh?…..it doesn’t even have a Tesco’s…that’s how posh). This means you return to HQ every 25 miles, for access to a drop-bag (which is very handy) and there are aid stations at about mile 6 and 12.5 of every spur. Hence you can’t go much beyond 6 miles without an aid station, which is a nice thought on a 100 mile run with most of it in the dark. I would be doing it without a crew, a very strong contrast to my efforts at GUCR, where I had 3 mates follow me down the route like a royal procession, feeding me coffee and Smash at regular intervals, the W100 would be me carrying what I needed, getting myself round, sleeping in the car for a few hours and then driving 2.5 hours home – very ‘au naturel’.

As an example of just how little I trained (and how complacent I was)….my total mileage in the 40 days before GUCR was probably 350 miles and 40 days before W100 was about 100. I’d had a bit of a cold a couple of weeks before which didn’t help – I very seldom get colds etc, and get very frustrated when I’m not feeling good – so on a Sunday morning a few weeks previously I had driven the 2.5 hours to the race HQ, planning on doing the third or fourth spur of 25 miles to help out with the route when the darkness hit, and could only manage about 12 slow miles…not a good start. The last 2 weeks before the race I basically stopped running to try to get my mojo back, and build up some enthusiasm for it again, and luckily on the Wednesday evening I had a lovely 6 mile stretch-of-the-legs that gave me a bit of confidence (i.e. I didn’t have to stop and walk, feeling shattered).

Another fly in the ointment was that rather than having a couple of days afterwards off work, it looked like I was going to be back to it on Monday morning, which as I spend my days on my feet was not going to be pretty. Ah well, can’t be helped.

Friday morning was spent preparing enough food to feed an army….Imagine 7 tins of ravioli split into 2 sandwich bags for each tin, then put into another plastic bag (to prevent spills) and then wrapped up tightly to minimise space. It was a work of art. Add in some coke, biscuits, pepperami, a little Smash, lots of sherbet lemons (ultra-running tip of the day…..it’s very hard to feel crap and grumpy when sucking a sherbet lemon), red bull, coffee sachets, and the list continues. As I’ve said before, I don’t eat while I run, but I run at the same time as doing a lot of eating. It seems to work for me.

Right then, if you’ve persevered this far (well done!), you probably need me to start talking about the event itself.

I got to the HQ quite early, parked in a nearby road, chatting to a fellow runner (hello Ian), and got through the kit check quickly. I’m not sure I saw anyone there without the compulsory kit, but I hate to think what the cost of the ‘buyable’ stuff there was there…if it had been me I’ve had made it all cost at least £100. I then got the chance to stand around for a bit….lots of much more organised people looking like they could go a very long way. Lots of different drop bags (including a guys that had a little suitcase on wheels – bizarre I thought at the time, until I had to drag my bag to the car, not being able to carry it), and a lot of different drop-bag labels. I saw some understated luggage tags, a few stuck on labels, and some truly impressive laminated A4-sized massive personal statements of name & number. It was very “drop-bag-label-intimidating.” There was a great atmosphere in the hall though, and lots of people from Centurion as well as runners and supporters. I have no idea how some peoples tiny rucksacks carried all of the compulsory kit, I had what looked like a 40lb Bergen on my back compared to some.

in the hall

The race briefing was surprisingly useful (and most people seemed to listen too!), I think they said there were 71ish volunteers, which is truly impressive for a race with about 150 runners. I particularly enjoyed the part about being quiet in certain sections of the run, in order not to disturb residents, which conjured up images of hoards of runners galloping along while whooping and screaming at mile 80, instead of the reality of single runners, shuffling along with their heads down, groaning gently with every step (or maybe that’s just me). Anyway, it was nice to be given the warning, and absolutely correct that we should be seen to be a ‘positive’ event to the surrounding residents.

So after the quick briefing, we meandered to the start point, and we nervously watched everyone watching everyone else deciding whether to start with a waterproof jacket or not.

at the start line...

at the start line…

We had been promised ‘heavy rain’ by the forecast, but there were a few hardy souls that were still in their t-shirts, as well as a few (including myself) who felt that having bought a bloody expensive waterproof jacket (with taped seams) I was going to wear it even if it wasn’t raining.

I love the 5 minutes before the running starts, just looking around.   I saw a guy carrying a stuffed toy, saying that he was doing the grand slam and had carried it around all the three previous 100 milers he’d done (to which someone correctly said “Couldn’t you have found a smaller toy to carry”). I saw a foreign looking lady behind me doing some amazing stretches (legs up round her shoulders etc) which looked positively painful, but hopefully helped her. And lots of nervous, but all excited, runners. I couldn’t see anyone that didn’t have an excited glint in their eye.

Without much ado (but there may have been some build-up at the frontthat I missed) we started, and made it about 200 yards before hitting a single file gate…at which everyone formed an orderly queue to get through. I’d like to see that done at the start of a 10k race, with everyone waiting patiently for the person ahead to get through, and no-one climbing over the fence to gain that precious 10 seconds.

muddy!

muddy!

After the gate, we all formed a long long chain of single-file runners squelching through the muddiest part of the whole 100 miles. You couldn’t go quicker than the person in front due to the narrow trail, but felt you had to keep up with them in order not to slow down the person behind, so this meant everyone was fairly packed together, slipping and sliding on the mud. It definitely helped if you had big feet, grippy shoes, and a substantial body weight to drive your feet through the mud to the hard earth underneath. The was a 5ft petite girl ahead of me (number 170 I think) that was struggling as she had none of those three things, but on the positive side it meant I could run this first stretch at a fairly sensible pace. I’m not sure everyone behind me would agree though. To be fair to 170 though, once she got to the road she sped off into the distance, leaving the plodders behind.

 

There was still no rain, and it felt really quite hot & humid. Not, perhaps, quite the Sahara, but certainly not far off the MdS. I got chatting to Ian, a guy I’d met when parking my car, and trotted on in good company for the next few miles.

I got to the first aid station at mile 6, and simply ran through it. There were two (2!) people taking numbers outside and once I’d been tagged it seemed rude to stop, so on I went! I was a little surprised at the amount of people that disappeared inside the hall, not really understanding why, but I would get it later!

I carried on with another group, who all seemed very comfortable. A guy that had done a few Ironman triathlons (Sweden and Austria I think) and another that had done a double ironman, and had started (but DNF’d) a triple. All very impressive. Clearly I was in good company (or completely out of my depth and going too quickly!). Talking about future events, I happened to mention that I’d entered the Thames Ring 250 in 2015. “I’ve entered that” says the double ironman next to me, which is a hell of a coincidence, as there are only about 14 entrants so far (according to Facebook) and I’ve found one running next to me. The guy about 5 paces ahead slows and turns, and says “So have I”….and it turns out that three of us happen to be running along the same patch at the same time. Bizarre. So, Marcus Shepherd and Glyn Rayman, I look forward to running with you next June, and I hope we all finish in one piece…although I doubt it.

We’d already seen the leaders coming towards us looking very focused, and really ‘racing’ as they were all surprisingly close together. As we got nearer the 12.5 mile turn-around point, Paul Ali (and his hat) came steaming towards us at the head of a very strong sub-20 hour train. They must have been about 2-3 miles ahead at that stage so were moving quick!  I saw Paul a few times over the day, and each time he looked awesomly strong (so did his hat).

The 12.5 mile aid station was at the end of a long curving field, that (perhaps it’s just me) could have been cut across to save considerable time, but I’m pleased to say that no-one did. (I hope I’m not the only person that thought of that.)

It was lovely running in lovely surroundings...not sure about the sky though.

It was lovely running in lovely surroundings…not sure about the sky though.

 

The aid station passed in a bit of a blur, and I was pretty much in & out quickly, walking back over the damn curving field while eating a banana that I’d thoughtfully brought with me. As I went along, lots of people were overtaking me & running ahead (including the Thames Ring 250 guys) but I was feeling quite good, enjoying the scenery, and it was probably at that point I thought I wasn’t going to push too hard today, but just enjoy the run.

 

I ran all the way back to the 18 miles by myself, just getting into the groove and getting my head into the right place for the next 20ish hours. I also spent an inordinate amount of time leapfrogging a girl (not literally) that had the same rucksack as me (we’ll call her ‘raidlight girl’) as I never spoke to her, and never got her race number, but we swapped places numerous times over the next 10-12 hours.

At 18 miles, I got to the aid station (the same one as at 6m) and here I WAS HIT BY THE FIRST REVELATION OF THE WHOLE RUN. I wandered inside the hall to get my water bottle filled…and was met by a cheery soul who said “Do you want your water bottle filled?” “Yes” I said, thinking that was very helpful of him, and how did he know? And then I spied the food…I’ve got to tell you, it was a children’s party of a buffet…there was finger food, cocktail sausages, I think (but I may have been hallucinating) a silver-foil covered round thing with cheese & pineapple on sticks, even full-fat coke (rather than cheap Tesco rubbish that has nowhere as much sugar, caffeine & E-numbers). I looked around for a clown and some balloon animals, thinking I’d crashed some other function in the hall, but then I was given my water bottle back so off I went.

 As I ran off, I reflected that I hadn’t just visited the best aid station I’d ever come across, but perhaps a banquet that had been set out for some Olympians (or something). I’ve clearly been doing the wrong events for the last few years, as I’m used to a gel & a plastic cup of lukewarm water. This was something else entirely. This was proper motivation to get to the next one!

Over the next 7 miles, I plodded away gamely, taking it all at a steady pace, becoming slightly aware of a bit of a pain in my ankle, but not getting too fussed about it. I was caught back up by number 170, just as we got to the slippery slidey mud stretch (rather amusingly) so I slowly stamped my way through the quagmire while she slipped & slid around the edges. All good filthy fun.

Before I knew it I was back to the HQ at mile 25. It had taken me 4 hours 31 mins for the first leg, and I was sitting in 68th place (so the live tracking told everyone except me). In the hall I was again offered a positive banquet of buffet bits, and hot stuff too, but I had a plastic bag of lovely stuff in my drop bag which I was re-united with, so pulled some Smash (powered potato stuff made by aliens) out of this, got it in a cup with some water, and set off, stirring it as if it would make it taste better. When I did GUCR I think I managed 7 portions of it (every 6 miles) before getting sick of it. Today I managed about one spoonful before regretting I had ever considered the bland slimy carb-loaded mush for a meal. I forced it down (even the un-dissolved powdery bits) but it was grim. I washed it down with lots of water, pepperami, anything to take the taste away.

By now I was on the Ridgeway, a different trail to the first 25 miles, and perhaps given away by the name, it was a hilly bugger. If I wasn’t going up a hill, I was getting ready to go up a hill. I never actually seemed to go down. It was still quite hot and humid, but pleasant enough. I was still leapfrogging raidlight girl for the first few miles of this leg. The aid station at mile 32 was good (but no children’s party in sight unfortunately) and a particularly cheerful ambulance (with crew) were just outside it, with the door open invitingly. It looked very comfy inside.

I plodded on, with the leaders zooming towards me at about 32 miles. They were all very polite and said hello as they scorched the earth with their pace. I said “Well done” and thought that I hoped they didn’t accidentally trip and hurt themselves, allowing me 4 hours to catch them up.

Smooth cowpat...waiting like a landmine!

Smooth cowpat…waiting like a landmine!

There was, again, some amazing scenery on this stretch (about mile 32 to 37) with lovely trails going through forests and even a golf course that was particularly adrenalin-fuelled as I tried to time my dashes across the various fairways with the golfers not hitting a ball at me. Jolly exciting.  Lots of cowpats too, lying in wait for the unsuspecting runner…good job it wasn’t dark at this stage!

Who'd have thought you could walk and poo at the same time....or perhaps it's a message!

Who’d have thought you could walk and poo at the same time….or perhaps it’s a message!

 

Some of the hills as I approached the 37 mile aid-station turnaround were steep, and although I was running down the hills (and walking up) it was energy sapping. However, the aid station, (naturally, at the top of a hill) was decked out in a Halloween theme, and was well stocked. I don’t know how many aid stations you’ve been to that have stuffed olives as part of their menu, but this was a first for me….and I’m particularly partial to stuffed olives. I‘m not convinced they added a great deal to my energy stores, but they taste better than gels (or Smash, thank god). So, a nibble on some snacks, and I walked back down the hill pulling my first ravioli meal out of my pack. Now, there may be some Neanderthals out there that don’t get the taste sensation of eating cold ravioli out of a plastic bag…but I’m not one of them. It was cold but slightly spicy, with just a hint of juniper, mahogany and penge – and it hit the spot.

 As I was plodding back towards 40 miles, I was seeing a lot of runners coming towards me, looking very tired and as it was getting darker and we weren’t halfway yet, I did start to wonder how many of them would make it to the end. However, that is probably exactly what people that saw me on their return leg thought about me…it’s all relative I guess.

...just getting dark.

…just getting dark.

 I got my head torch & shoulder torch out at about 6.20pm,  it was just getting dark enough that the forest trails with their exposed roots were getting hazardous. My shoulder torch is actually a bike light that sits on my shoulder bathing the surroundings with ambient light everywhere, which is really useful. Even better, I can pretend to be the baddie from Predator, who has a targeting laser-thingy that comes out of his shoulder on command. Or maybe that’s just me.

All the way back to the HQ at 50 miles, which took a while as I was mainly marching by now. I can generally march at a pace better than 15 m/m which although hard work, is less exhausting than running for a bit and then walking slowly for a bit. I love running/marching in the dark, although some of the forresty bits did freak me out a bit with shadows jumping out at me and then disappearing.

 Back at HQ, I changed my shoes and socks. Despite being very muddy, I was chuffed that my new waterproof socks did actually keep my feet free from the outside water, and just a thin base layer sock inside them to soak up the trapped sweat. In fact I changed the base layer sock only once and kept the same waterproof socks on for the whole 100 miles which worked well. I had a couple of sore spots on my feet, but nothing serious, and the rest of my body was holding up well (considering). I’d got to 50 miles in 10 hours 22 mins, so it was about 8.30pm, which is about right for me, and I would find out later that that was in 68th position. I was impressed by how many spectators there were in the HQ, and again the atmosphere was quite lively, with lots of chatter. I was actually quite glad it was just me on my own, as I didn’t have to be polite an talk to people that had waited for hours for me….I could just go when I was ready. And I did.

A long long downhill though a lovely big field....magic.

A long long downhill though a lovely big field….magic.

As I walked away from HQ I had another bag of ravioli (yum yum) with a load of ibuprofen and paracetamol. This was probably the last time my stomach felt OK, as for the rest of the run I was feeling vaguely ‘not right’ but couldn’t work out why not. Maybe a bad ravioli or something.

 

As I was starting the third leg from 50 miles, the leader came galloping towards me, having finished 75 miles. This means he’d done 75 miles in about 10.5 hours….just amazing. And he was running really normally and bloody quickly. Wow. In fact, all the guys that were ahead of me and hence running towards me looked in good spirits, and took the time to say something as they went past, which was really nice. The out-and-back spurs gave a constant flow of people going in one direction or another which meant you never really felt ‘alone’ on the trail – a really good touch.

Anyway, 50 miles to 62.5 was Ridgeway again, which means uphill. And that’s all I remember really.  ‘Nuff said.

As pacers were allowed to join at 50 miles, there were a lot of runners in twos now, and it was easy to tell the pacers as they overtook me or I came up behind them – 1. They were running with some form and the person next to them was flopping along like a dead body – 2. The pacer had clean calf’s whereas the person next to them was covered in mud below the knee. I have a vivid memory of a couple (him pacing; her flopping like a dead body) overtaking me up a hill (it was all bloody hill) and then slowing, and then simply walking up the rest of the hill with their arms around each other like the were out on the town for the evening. I did think about screaming that he wasn’t allowed to push her up the hill like that, but then got caught up in the moment of true love and wanted to get a violin and serenade them.

....unsettled sky.

….unsettled sky.

Somewhere around here I did my biggest navigation error, following the bloke ahead instead of turning right to follow a road round. I was a couple of hundred yards onto the new path when I became aware of a few guys shouting behind me, and realised they were telling me I’d gone wrong. The guy ahead of me was a fair distance ahead and I could see from his head torch that he was moving quite fast. The only reason for telling you this is because it gave me a chance to us my (compulsory kit) whistle that I’d bought specially off eBay (the best £1.99 of my life). In the dark cold night, it sounded very very loud, and got his attention easily, as well as most of the surrounding 200 miles. That was the adrenaline-fuelled exciting car-chase part of the night – blowing my whistle loudly. However, thanks to those guys that corrected the two of us, no idea who you are, but it’s much appreciated.

My stomach was still feeling odd, and I was feeling very thirty but didn’t want to put any more pressure on my stomach by filling it up with liquid. I resorted to sherbet lemons to stop me feeling so thirsty, and also to give me a bit of a sugar push, which worked really well. Sherbet lemons really are the king of sweets. They are just naturally happy things to have in your mouth.

The aid station at 62.5 miles was a rave in the middle of nowhere. Flashing xmas lights, dancing, glo-sticks leading like a runway up to the tent, buffet, and I seem to remember hearing the Prodigy on the stereo. There seemed to be quite a few people sitting here, but I just grabbed my first coffee of the night (ah, bless you caffeine, my good friend), filled my water bottle and set off. I’d intended to eat at this stage, but decided to give it a miss as I wasn’t sure what the consequence would be, however this did mean I was carrying around about 2 tins of ravioli with me everywhere which was becoming heavy as I wasn’t eating it.

Now, logic says that if you’ve just marched 12.5 miles uphill, in the pitch dark, then the next 12.5 miles should be downhill. The course profile shows it should be downhill. I’d decided I would run all the downhill parts, and march the rest, but was slightly confused to find it was all uphill again…or at least that’s what it felt like. If you haven’t guessed I’m not a great fan of hills (or running) so I was starting to get a bit cross when I absolutely could not find the downhills relating to the tough uphills I’d just gone up.

As I marched the last mile into HQ at 75 miles I forced down a bag of ravioli. It was actually still quite tasty, but I was very conscious of the likely effect on my now-rolling stomach. However, it was unrealistic to think I could simply not bother with fuelling, so it was a calculated risk to see if it was going to stay down. And it did, for now.

me, in a field

me, in a field

 I got back to HQ at 75 miles at about 3am, I found out later I was in 51st place, probably due to my consistent pace (slow and then slower) and not really stopping at aid stations other than a water refill. Now it was time for some maths….I had 7 hours to do the last 25 miles to finish under 24 hours. If I maintained 15 m/m then I would be going at 4 mph, which would mean each 12.5 mile leg should be about 3 hours 7 mins, giving me 6 hours 15 mins for the 25 miles. Add in 20 mins for eating, weeing, getting lost etc, I would still be less than 24 hours. Sounds good

The winner actually finished while I was at the aid station, an awesome 15 hours for 100 miles.  Amazing.  And they didn’t bring him in on a stretcher either.

While I was at HQ, I jettisoned most of the food I was carrying, filled up with sherbet lemons, picked up another coffee and got on my way. I liked coming out of the HQ each time and having to ask which way to go, it was like a mystery tour. I’d been told the last leg was all flat (being the Thames Path) so I was looking forward to a nice meander along the river, watching dawn come up over the horizon, hopefully a bit of wildlife (there had been surprisingly little so far).

About a mile in, and I was in trouble. I’d finished about half of the coffee, and thrown the rest away as my stomach wasn’t having any of it. I was leaning on the fence at the side of the path, retching, telling myself that if I was sick I would only have to eat another load of food, and that it would be much more sensible to keep it all in. I was retching really strongly, walking about 10 steps and then leaning on the ‘sick-fence’ again for my stomach to try to empty itself again. This was my first experience of trying to be sick at a run, and it wasn’t pleasant. I felt lucky that at least there was no-one going past me at this stage as it wasn’t pretty. However, like all bad things, it passed, I kept my food down, and I started to feel better reasonably quickly. Ho hum, these things happen.

Did I say it was going to be flat for this leg? Rubbish. The Thames Path is the hilliest ‘flat’ trail I’ve ever run on. There was a hill in the first few miles that was so steep it had steps for gods’ sake. You can perhaps tell that I’d run out of patience with sodding hills, especially trying to maintain 15 m/m up them which was hard work, and told myself that my next run would be so flat I would need a spirit level to measure the hills.

The first aid station came really quickly, about mile 4 of the 12.5 I think, which was a bit of a shock (and a bit of a disappointment when I realised I hadn’t broken my own land-speed record for travelling 6 miles) but this was more than made up for by being confronted with one of the volunteers in full 70’s gear….afro, open shirt and medallion…..asking me if I was alright, at 4am, in some village hall somewhere in Oxfordshire. Clearly the ibuprofen and paracetamol were all kicking in at once, and I was hallucinating, but nevertheless it certainly cheered me up.

It was after this aid station that I went wrong again, missing a very sharp left turn and carrying on straight for 5 mins, but in my defence three others did the same and I still missed it when my Garmin told me I’d gone off course…it shows how tired we all were that we did not see the markings (on that way back, when it was light, they were clear to see). Anyway, about 5 of us got back on track, and pushed on.

It felt like a long slog to the 12.5 mile turnaround. The route markings weren’t great, but it was dark, I was tired, and we were all spread out so there wasn’t a nice runner up ahead showing me the way. With hindsight, this was the leg to have recce’d as it was definitely the hardest to find your way. I remember going through part of a housing estate that didn’t see to have any marking at all, but coming back through in the light I could see there were a few….perhaps everyone else knew the way, or I was just tired / emotional / pissed off.

I got chatting to a guy in a Buff top over the last few miles before the turnaround, which passed the time well. He was telling me he’d gone wrong by 30 minutes on an earlier leg, so was having to push to catch up the time. I was telling him how much I disliked bloody hills (he then said how much he liked hills, and that was why he’d chosen this run….bastard).

Anyway, we plodded on to the turnaround at 87.5 miles. Now, let me ask you a question….what would you not like to see at the 87.5 mile checkpoint? Is the answer 1. A clock saying it’s later than you expected, or 2. A flight of stairs at least 20 steps high? Answer – I got both. Who’s idea it was to put the checkpoint on the first floor of a building is a sadistic shit. I hope they put a camera recording all these poor runners stretching their legs for the first time in hours to go up a flight of stairs as it would be a sure fire hit on ‘You’ve Been Framed’ and they could put the £250 price towards a Stanna stair-lift. Once I’d navigated the stairs, I was confronted by a nicely placed clock on the table telling me it was 6.20 am. It should have been about 6.10am or earlier….not good. No time to sit (a lot of people sitting down again, which I found very odd so near the end), but grabbed a coffee and got back down those comedy steps.

Marching back to the finish, I was swiftly overtaken by the guy in the Buff top, running well. I was maintaining my 15 m/m pace fairly well, to achieve the 24 hours, and overtook a few guys limping hard, including one guy who asked me if it was bad to be peeing blood (oh dear). I felt a bit of pressure to keep moving quickly for this last 12.5 miles, and really was just keen to get to the finish. Quite a lot of runners overtook me which was really impressive, as there was no way I could get up any pace by then.

The 4 mile aid station came and went in a blur, and then back to the path for the last few miles. There were a few couples out walking dogs as it was quite a nice morning, but they were all very polite, even though they were clearly bemused at what I looked like. I kept checking behind me (as you do) to see if there was a crowd of runners catching me up, but the last few miles were all quiet.

A morning jogger (not a runner, a jogger – see what I did there?) told me “Well done, only 1.4m miles to go” when I actually had 2 miles to go…I don’t know if she was trying to help or took pleasure in crushing the spirit of tired runners but I hope to meet her in a dark alley in a future life.

Last corner off the path, turning right at the bridge, it was a lovely feeling to know I’d done the 24 hours. I’d purposely slowed down for the last few hundred yards to stay behind a guy that was limping really badly, and I remembered my experience of GUCR when I was almost overtaken by 2 guys with 0.5 miles to go (read my uninteresting GUCR race report to find out what happened).

A respectable crowd of people clapped us into the finish, which was lovely, and my finish time was recorded as 23 hours 42 mins. I’d finished in 43rd place (out of about 150 starters and 94 finishers, improving from 68th place at mile 50, which I was surprised at.)

Into HQ, belt buckle & T-shirt and a hand-shake (which always means a lot to me), and a very efficient bunch of volunteers fussed around me getting me my drop bag. As always, I know that to sit down now only brings the pain on quicker, so I was up and out quickly, dragging my sodding heavy dropbag (filled with uneaten ravioli, of course) to the car. Next time I judge a guy with a neat little wheeled suitcase as a drop bag I will apologise to him.

I got to the car, planning on sleeping for a few hours before the long drive back, but after 10 minutes of lying there with my eyes shut it clearly wasn’t going to happen, so I got on the move, chugging coffee at every services, eating Ginsters steak slices & Doritos, and singing at the top of my voice to the Frozen soundtrack (“Elsa, can we build a snowman etc”). Although I made it back safely, I would absolutely echo the race organisers when they say don’t drive home straight after finishing, but get some sleep (while your wife drives home).

1pm. Shower, sofa, Stella, yet more Doritos. Job done.

The Buckle.

The Buckle.

So, what a cracking race! I can’t complement Centurion enough on their volunteers, organisation, route markings, kid’s party-style buffets at aid stations and general atmosphere of fun & adventure. Clearly there are some fantastic runners that take it very seriously and do amazing times, and they are well catered for, but for the ‘back-of-the-pack’ runners like me the event was just right. I hope the runners that finished after me felt similarly looked after (i.e. the aid stations still had stuffed olives left for them). 

picturesque scenery!

picturesque scenery!

I loved the trail running; it has some much more personality and interest than pavements. It’s just a shame about the hills.

I’m still not sure why my stomach protested as much as it did. I ate absolutely tons of food during GUCR, but didn’t manage half the quantity in this race, but perhaps it just wasn’t the day for eating. I learned that sherbet lemons are a suitable food substitute if all else fails.

And lastly, my recovery? Well, I felt unbelievably stiff for the first few days, especially in my inner thighs, and the experience of going back to work on Monday morning was rubbish. My rightful place was on the sofa, and there I was having to explain to people why I was walking like John Wayne (and so, so slowly). As usual, a lot of people said “100 miles, I couldn’t do that!” or “You must be mad”, and as usual, I think to myself that if they only knew how the body & mind feels after completing a proper testing challenge, they would be out there with me.

I’m probably not going to run for a while now, I will fill my time with beer & Doritos and family time, but the Thames Ring 250 next June is beckoning…that’s going to be a monster.

...the food of kings!  I salute you!

…the food of kings! I salute you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. What a great read bob very informative and funny i loved the predator reference! Sherbet lemons who would have thought? Well done to you sir its reading things like this that make me want to do something stupid

    Like

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