Most of my Ultra adventures seem to begin as I leave the front door and this was no exception....
Logistics of the linear race meant I dropped my car at the finish, then undertook a 2 mile jog in the dark, solo, along a dodgy B-Road to the nearest railway station in the delightful Craven Arms.
I survived the South Shropshire drivers but the Shropshire rail passengers on a Saturday night on Halloween have left me scarred for life...
Maybe it was I who was the weird one, dressed in my race gear and backpack on such a Saturday night? :-D
Anyway, costumes revealing not such pretty sights and comments such as "You can spend a long time skinny, in your coffin!", followed by a train ride to Wellington where a cocktail of spilled beer and p*ss sloshed about the carriage in true Saturday night style..... made up the eve of my Ultra race.
The Minihanes quickly bought some sanity back with food and drink and a bed for the night... It seemed perfectly normal to us, to be running 55 miles on Sunday, to finish after dark, travel home, get washed up and some shut-eye, then up for work as normal on Monday morning... I'm sure work colleagues disagree.
So Sunday morning saw an early start... We were grateful for the extra hours kip due to clock change.
Highlight of the journey to the start venue, was when I decided Marks positive driving techniques would be better appreciated from the back seat with my eyes closed. So I frantically fumbled to operate the shiny rear door handle only to discover it was a petrol cap and the car only had two doors....
The runners turned out on time and we were off. A very small, but rather competitive field...
Safe in the knowledge that all I had to do to take home the 1st lady trophy.... was to complete! That was in the bag, unless I died trying.
We knew it would start with 12 miles of road and although it flew by pretty rapidly, it really took its toll on my legs. Maybe X-Talons were not the best choice, I developed a pain in a muscle on the inside of my calf, that I never knew existed...
Anyway, as with most Ultra's the niggles subside, things go numb and I find myself putting one foot in front of another, in a mostly pleasant air of contentment, to reach my goal.
I usually run an ultra solo, because I can run freely with my energy flux as it dips into lows, and soars way up high! So running in a team that stayed together was a new experience...
I felt pretty naff early on, the guys clearly had a slightly quicker "comfortable" pace than me and I was spiralling down, psychologically. I kept telling them to jog on, but they wouldn't.
Then as I was having a "proper strop" through the trails of Haughmond Hill, Daz turned up to run with us, and what a lift he gave me! "Storm" ran/walked by my side into Shrewsbury and it really picked me up.
After Salop we called in at Andros's mothers in Bayston Hill and she fed us Cypriot bbq chicken, marinated peppers and olives and homemade bread.
OMG... proper food gave me super energy and for many miles after I was flying! So much so, that I ran ahead through boggy trails then sprawled out on the ground chewing on a grass stem, waiting for the lads :-)
We checked in at Lyth Hill, so lovely to see Jan and the kids at every CP.... sorely missing my little 'un... He wasn't there, but maybe he will read my blog one day?!!
So we pushed on with a flying descent of Lyth Hill,.. only my fell running habits kept my quads in one piece!
A bit of tarmac to Pulverbatch and then.... true South Shropshire.... our stomping ground!
After a super gluggy boggy climb up onto Betchcott Hills, I was chomping at the bit! I knew Bridges was a couple of miles of perfect, scenic, downhill twisty trail away.....
The Horseshoes (aka The Bridges) at Rattlinghope (aka Ra-chop) really is the perfect country pub, so it would be rude not to sup a swift half (LMH de ja vu) for the ditch!
Quickly washed down with a pot noodle and up onto the Mynd. The first and only proper climb, and it was tough. It was freezing as we ran across the gliding field, Andros was very strong, he had no mercy.. run! If we run, we will be home quicker!
We chased the muddy footpaths, up the 78 steps ( I counted) and kept pushing down to Sibdon Castle, the finish! To warm, smiling faces and plenty of bling!
Steve Worrallo put on a great race... SW (that's Shropshire Way, not Steve Worrallo!) was an iota of the Races he has put on this year... check out
I will remember SW as a gift from a friend who couldn't run (Thanks Rog!), I will remember running with Mark and Andros from start to finish (you nearly killed me!), and thanks to Jan and Steve for great checkpoint food and support...........
- Breathing in the forest air, my heartbeat and footfall are settling into rhythm as I climb the trail... The autumnal canopy is scattering bronze, copper and golden jewels like a carpet beneath my feet. Ducking under a spiderweb laced with diamonds of morning dew, I see the stag as he scampers deeper into the forest.... My muscles and heart are pumped as I push up and out of the tree line and onto the ridge. Climbing up onto the top of the world, and a panorama I silently soak in. A buzzard lazily flaps away from the cairn. Now the fun begins as I run down the trail, twisting, turning, feeling every contour of the earth beneath the soles of my feet. A log to jump, a branch I scoop under, my feet going quicker, quicker, dancing down into the tree line as a fox darts across my path.... This blog is based on tales of my trail and ultra running exploits. Enjoy!!!