Two things worried me:
1. It involved running in small circles ALL day
2. It was ALL on tarmac
On the plus side, getting lost would be virtually impossible.
I didn't fancy the 100K so took the 50K (31 Miles) 'lightweight' option and in hindsight that was 100% the correct choice!
My event didn't start until 10am but I wanted to get there to see the 100K get underway at 7am and to do a recce of the route. It was bitterly cold and the temperature was hovering around an optimistic -3 when I arrived. It was a bit spooky at North Inch Park, with the ground being covered in a crisp white frost and a layer of mist hung above the grass.
So fast forward a few hours and many many laps later.........
I had walked/jogged the route a good few times now, still freezing, and by now was keen to get underway myself. Sue Walker had very kindly let me put my race box at their tent so I knew exactly where to get my supplies during the race. So I got changed and then hung about the start area. I watched as the 100K folk came and went, setting off a beep each time they crossed the matting. This then triggered a 'Oh Shit' moment. It suddenly dawned on me, with 10 minutes to go' that despite having been so organised with my kit and my race supply box, that I had forgotten to attach the timing chips to my shoes. I belted back to my car and there they were, sitting on the dashboard. Numpty.
So, take two......now I was ready to go.
We assembled and were quickly underway. My pre-race target had been around 5 Hours, nothing fancy, just plod round and get some miles in my legs. I knew I would be lapped, as it turned out I was lapped several times, and hoped that I would lap those who were near death in the latter stages. I soon lost track of how many laps I had done as we were not allowed to carry a phone or gps device, but I knew I had lots to go. The 100K guys were streaming past with increasing regularity, including the 'Big Guns' of Donnie, Antonia, Paul, Andrew and Andy. I chatted to a few briefly before they streaked away. It was never too long before I saw them again. And then again and again.........
My once cheery 'Hellos' had been replaced by mutterings and then hand signals. Why did I think running an Ultra on Tarmac would be fun?
I think I had run 8 laps before I had my first 'pit stop' for a drink, after that I was pausing every 2 or 3 laps. My leg muscles can't, as it now appears, cope over this distance on Tarmac, trails I can manage but the constant pounding on this hard packed shit really was leading to me making up all sorts of new swear words today. I had regular walk breaks, but I'm pretty sure I was soon being refered to as 'Oh there goes that guy whos walking the race' or 'when are you going to start running?' and my favourite of the day 'how many times is that ive lapped you now?'
By around lap 16 or 17 my legs were packing in and protesting with every subsequent lap. I had walked and talked with various runners, including Andy Johns and John MacLean and the ever smiling Antonia, but nothing could take my mind off the red hot pokers being stabbed into my legs. Even being shouted at by Sharon Law for talking to John like a 'pair of old fish wives' couldn't lift my spirits. Sue had fed me some cake and it gave me a wee burst of energy. A wee burst that soon wore off, but then some more cake and another wee burst. I felt a bit better, but not much! On one lap as I approached the mats the crowd were going mental, cheering and screaming. I thought 'Oh thats nice, thank you'. I quickly realised that it was Donnie Campbell coming in fast from behind me to finish that they were going crazy for!!!
At the start of 2013 I had boldly stated that I wanted to run and finish 12 Ultras. I soon began to see this as being overly ambitious and slightly mental. So I've 'slimmed' this down to a more realistic target of just 9!
So 2 down (D33 and ACP), 7 to go.
Tomorrow is the 3rd of this years, the Hoka Highland Fling 53 mile Trail Race. This will be my 5th Fling and hopefully my 4th finish. I'm aiming for Sub 12 hours this year and ideally would like to achieve 11.45.00