Marathon of Britain - Final Report
Firstly, huge apologies to all who were following the reports on raceblog and eventrate. The idea was for me to phone in my report and technology would enable you to hear it straight away. Technology worked well until the heavens opened and all the phones got soaked leaving me unable to phone in a report.
Fear not, I didn't disappear off the face of the Earth. I kept running through the sunshine, rain, hail, torrential soaking, and flash flooding to finish 17th alongside Victoria. We covered the entire 175 miles together which meant we were able to help each other through the low points. The biggest of these was on the long 54 mile stage.
We had been running / walking for close to 15 hours and had just gone through check point 4. The sky opened up and dumped the biggest rain I had seen in years straight down on top of us. There were still 20 miles to go to the finish and Victoria and I were now both very cold as well as very tired. We both reached our lowest point and came close to dropping out of the event but we met a guy walking his dogs who told us that there were three fellow racers no more than three minutes ahead. This was the kick up the backside that we needed and we ran as quickly as our tired, cold legs would let us and didn't stop till we caught them. A huge thank you has to go to the chip shop in Marketfield. That chip butty was bar far the best I've ever had and gave me all the energy I needed to reach the finish line. Thank you also for the donation which went to the charity as soon as we crossed the finish line. Thanks also to Gill, Clive and Pierre - our three fellow runners - linking up with you at the end really lifted out spirits and stopped us from dropping out of the run. Victoria and I finished the 54 miles in just over 19 hours. Last year it took me over 28 hours! So 19 hours makes me very happy!!
Back to the start though.
We lined up at the start of the run on Sunday, outside the Abbey Hotel. As the flag was dropped we all hurtled off, raring to get a good start, only to come to a crawl no more than 500m into the run. Yes, we had hit our first hill. I knew this was coming but was still surprised at how much it took out of me, as I tried to get to it's peak. The leaders went up in about 15 minutes. I think it took us about 35! Once at the top we had to run along the ridge, climbing the two remaining peaks, before heading down and across fields and farms and roads to Croome Landscape Park (Base 1). A total of 16.1 miles in 3.5 hours. We both felt great after this.
Monday, 29 miles - We ran from the Landscape park heading up the road and across more fields till we reached the foot of the first hill! If you listened to my voice files on raceblog you'll know just how hard this hill is as I sound very out of breath and I'm still at the bottom. To make matters worse, this hill was number 1 of 5 today. Most people call this the mountain stage. Once at the top we flew along and managed to map read ourselves through the next hills until we got to the two biggest hills of the day. Victoria & I have been up these ones before and we knew to go slow. It was very hot, feeling 30+, and there isn't much shade. The last hill leading to Broadway Tower is a real shocker. You think you have made the top but it roles out more hill for you when you get there. I even managed to throw up half way up this one. At the top we were relieved when told there was only a mile or two to go. Finishing time - 8 hrs 27 mins
Tuesday - 32 miles - Wasn't feeling good. I was just hoping that I hadn't caught the same bug that others seemed to have. On very little breakfast I set off with Victoria, trying to put my stomach to the back of my mind. Yesterday two of our tent had to drop out. Phil had a virus or bug and Andy - who most of us had up for winning this event - collapsed on the hills (both all ok now though!). Terrain was ok today. A trip through Stratford upon Avon (we must have looked funny to the tourists) with the finish posts at the Stratford Race Course. I was really looking forward to getting to the finish as I knew there were showers. Hot showers! About 40 minutes from the end and the heavens opened up and we got very, very wet. Spirits we kept high with a packet of mini cheddars, a mars bar and a can of red bull each! It might not give you wings as it says in the advert but it certainly helped us forget about the rain for 2 minutes. We were both really starting to feel the aches in our legs now. My knee was struggling and Vic had muscle pains that she'd never had before but we finished in a great time of 8 hours and 49 minutes. (last year this stage alone took me 14 hours!)
Wednesday 34 miles - Not the best of starts again. I'm on antibiotics for a septic toe which is getting much better but I worked out now that it's the tablets that are making me feel sick. I can feel my breakfast bouncing with every step. Victoria & I take the first stage of today carefully, not wanting to overdo it. This changed when we hooked up with A group of 6 others just over half way through the day. Merv, Simon, Gill, Pierre, Clive and Michael were going well and we joined the group. I didn't realise that we had caught the front group until close to the finish line. The start had been staggered so the actual leaders were technically ahead of us even though they were behind as they had been running for 2.5 hours less than us. Merv pretty much set the pace and Victoria kept up well but my knee was folding with each run and I found that by the end I could only walk. (Simon, thanks for the cough candy! Just what I needed to take my mind of the knee!). As a group of 8 we crossed the line together at Coombe in 8 hours 31 mins. (NO WONDER MY KNEE HURTS!!!)
Thursday - the big one - 54 miles. Most of this is in the opening of the email so lets leave it at that and say WoW! what a day!
Friday - 10 miles of flat (Yippeeeee no hills) canal! Victoria and I made it to the finish in just under 2.5 hours and boy was I happy. As soon as we stopped my knee gave up. I fought to get to the end and Victoria had to put up with my whinging all the way to the finish. We managed to stay the whole 175 miles together and still she wants my company!
I've looked at the timings from last year and I make it 26 hours quicker this year. That's a whole day plus 2 hours! and I was able to go back to work and jog with a client three days later. Last year I was useless for an entire week.
Once again I have been to places within myself that I didn't know existed. Once again I have seen people push themselves to a limit and once again I have witnessed the community and madness that is Ultra Marathon Running. I do this to raise money for the National Deaf Children's Society and Action on Addiction. You can chip in to make it all worthwhile at www.justgiving.com/dansrun
Thanks to every involved in putting this event together. Rory - your enthusiasm is an inspiration! The crew are amazing, no matter what the weather they are with a smile and a jelly baby or three!
Next year???????????????? Who knows
Did I mention I do this to raise money for the charities??? Come on, gotta be worth a pound each! I ran 175 miles and climbed hills that should be called mountains.
A huge thank you to everyone who sent txt's during the run. A huge thank you to those who phoned and finally a huge thank you to those who've supported me throughout the past year and donated online or direct to me. Just short of £2500 has gone to the charities so far and there's more to come I'm sure.
A break now then no doubt another challenge next year.