An ultra in December…. why not! and with that I lined up with 300 odd other slightly mad people at the Pyramid center in Portsmouth.
My start was somewhat different with a random runners dad seeing my race number (it had ultra across the bottom) commenting “You’re a big lad to be running that far. Not sure you’re going to make it…” – cheers for that!
Pre-race organisation was great, lots of space, easy access toilets etc and we were off.
The plan was to run the first 15k with my wife so I kept my pace up to hit the cut offs then let her go and hang onto the finish! Proof in the photo below:
The terrain was great fun with coastal paths, mud, beach, mud, shingle, mud, sand and then the same in reverse! Great atmosphere which for me at least, was a little spoiled when all the marathon runners came through (they started an hour after us) as became a bit mass market. However it was great getting cheers from fellow hedgies as they came past.
Lasted hanging onto my wife’s coat tails until 18k then got dropped, made it to the marathon half way point (turn around point) which had been my aim. To explain, the cut off times were very tight so I was assuming I would get pulled so to make it worthwhile I had decided I would run at least until 21k as a long run before Christmas.
Made 25k in 3 hours (cut off 3:15) so was allowed to turn and come back to attempt to finish the race. I’m so pleased I did this as met two amazing people:
John – 78 years young, has run 480 marathons!!! WOW just WOW. More importantly what a nice man, full of encouragement to everyone he met. He encouraged a bit of frost bite as it made sure he was alive (!) and he reminded me so much of my granddad who passed away quite a few years ago. I probably could have run a bit more at that stage but was just enjoying his company!
Jade and more widely the MNDA group of runners. One of the members of my running club fundraises for this charity and is so passionate about it. Jade was exactly the same and had done crazy amounts of races to raise money. I don’t know enough about the charity, but the energy and enthusiasm the group generates is very impressive and really helps the whole group achieve.
Anyway, in my normal style 30-40k was a bit of a slog and then things started falling off from 40. The hail storm as I crossed the last beach was unwelcome and quite frankly unnecessary! So by the time I hit Southsea sea front for the last couple of miles to the finish, I was: walking into a rainy headwind, walking like John Wayne, snot flowing everywhere, in shorts and a t-shirt and there may have been some swearing. In the opposite direction were beautiful families having a Sunday walk in full coats, hats etc. I can’t understand why dad’s carefully shuffled their children out of the way of the crazy man!!!
The finish line came into view and two fellow Hedgies spotted me and help dragged me down the last 100 meters. The relief at seeing them I can’t describe:
The medal and beer were a great way to finish the race and my wife spared me having to attend a carol service that evening! Somehow she still went (in full race gear – yes she smelt!)
As a race, great organisation, brilliant checkpoints with everything you could need, beautiful scenery and lovely path. My only thing would be to have a lot more clarity on the cut offs so that people can make an informed decision about entering (especially the slower runners like me) as it did cause a lot of stress for me prior to the race. however, would I have knocked 35mins off my 50k pb without it, probably not!