When you are running through the stillness of the English countryside at 2:00 in the morning after a perfect summer’s day, chasing a full moon with nothing but the bats and badgers, foxes and fireflies to keep you company, there is a lot of time to think and enjoy the views and the imposed solitude of the environment.
So I was more surprised than anything that I found myself concentrating mostly on getting food and sickly sweet caffeine laced carbohydrate juice in my mouth and calculating my time to the next of the 10 mile checkpoints on the basis of my pace over the last kilometre for the majority of the one hundred and sixty kilometres in my latest ultra-marathon.
Not quite the romantic image one might have of a long distance runner but then perhaps I am sadly deluded that ultra marathon running has romantic overtones 🙂
The Cotswold 100 or, more officially, the UltraRace 50/100 was my second Rory Coleman (of seven times MdS fame) organised event of the year but the first of my 3 one hundred milers planned for the summer, so this was the moment of truth. How would my training pay off? How would this compare to Mont Blanc? The next 24 hours would tell – hopefully!
[singlepic id=189 w=320 h=240 float=left]The day had started in a far more relaxed fashion than some of the other races I have done; I had taken the day off and we travelled up to our guest house in Stratford-upon-Avon without incident and the only frustration was the traffic on the M25. The course started and finished at Stratford racecourse with a rather elongated circular 100 mile loop in between, traversing well known Cotswold places such as Snowshill, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Bourton-on-the-Hill and Chipping Campden and although the hills are nothing like the lake district or Mont Blanc, the Cotswold’s are certainly not renowned for being flat.
44 people in total had signed up for the races this weekend, 34 for the 100 mile and 10 for the 50 mile distance. Of those on the 100 mile run, 21 people estimated their times as +24 hours and so had already started (during the heat of the day!) at 12:00, and 10 were non-starters, leaving only 3 of us to go at the 6:00pm (sub-24 hour) start. The 50 milers were to start at 5:30am the next morning from checkpoint 5.
My wonderfully supportive wife and family accompanied me to the racecourse for 5:00pm where we waited for Rory and the anticipated UltraRace entourage to appear and although slightly off-put by the fact that only Rory in his mini-cooper turned up and that there were only three of us starting (having not know about the non-starters at that stage), we nonetheless listened to final instructions (follow the yellow-on-black ‘100’ stickers for 98 miles, then the red-on-white ‘Ur’ stickers for the final 2 miles) and attended to the usual pre-race prep, although this took all of about 3 minutes for all of us.