50 Mile Challenge
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|PSC||Pirate Ship Of Fools||8:10:00||8:10:00||8:10:00||50.71|
|plodding hippo||100 Marathon Club||12:00:00||14:02:00||14:02:00||33.37|
This event is listed on these dates:
The Kent 50 mile Challenge-a tale of two marathons------
This was my second attempt at this event.In 2004, a week following my ill fated attempt at the Lyke Wake-I completed 5 laps of this course, and was actually happy with that.The support and encouragement given by the organiser means that everyone who takes part in this event is a winner.So, unusually, I was entering again because I wanted to-not because I had my usual ghost to lay, or issues with the race.If I could complete the full distance-it would be further than I had ever gone before(my previous longest being Tipton 12 hour track race when I was just shy of 49 miles-and was wrecked physcially and mentally for weeks after).
The day before
Travelled down with Rosas mum and hubby, and met Speedy and BBH at Victoria for the final leg of the journey.Spirits were high, as we chatted about previous and forthcoming races.Rosas Mum tried to persuade me to sign up for a 100 mile walk!We arrived at Herne Bay-and got a taxi to the farm we were staying in-which the taxi driver had never heard of.Eventually we found it, and got a lift to the pub for food and registration.After siging a document to offically certify us insane, amd receiving a very nice bum bag, we piled into the pub for food-only to find out there wasn’t any on that night.However, Mike the organiser did rustle us up a very welcome plate of doorstep sandwiches, which complemented the lager nicely.The pub was full of wiry looking ultra types-some even drinking Guinness.I recognised one-and it was none other than the infamous Vet 70 Jim, who had celebrated his birthday in spectacular style the night before Dartmoor Discovery, and bombed out of that race in even more phenomenal fashion!Jim bought us some pink champagne, and a glass of that went down very nicely!
But we had to be sensible-and so left at 10.30, and walked back to the farm.Thank goodness BBH has a sense of direction!.After packing up a kitbag for the morning, it was time to attempt sleep.
As usual, I awoke hourly, and was finally shocked awake at 4 am by a persistent droning.Surely this was too big to be a mosquito-------------?
BBH awoke at 4.45, and slew the monster-resulting in a good deal of someones blood splattered on the duvet.
After a breakfast of fruit and cereal-it was off to the start, and time to renew acquaintance with old ultra friends.We lined up on the road, and Mike told us all that this wasn’t a race-it was all about personal challenge.His words went over my head-I was trying to focus on the task ahead-----
My goal was simply to finish in the 15 hours, although I had worked out that 15 minute miling would get me in under 13 hours
A nice easy start down a road then onto a nice track.Of course I was going too fast.my plan was to walk so that I was averaging 12.0-12.5 minute milesEven so, I was finding it hard going, and rapidly revised my target down to 13 min miles.Most people were now well ahead of me, so I could at last settle down to the task in hand.We soon turned in to a slippy grassy bit, followed by rutted farm track with knee deep grass in places-this certainly slowed me down!Then it was out onto a concrete section, which I remembered from last time-only because of the regular cracks Id been run –walking between.The concrete was overhung by trees, so there was a little shade still-even though it was already very warm.More grassy section, , and then up a concrete hill which ran by the side of a motorway.Last time, I ran up this twice before being unable to do so again-so this time I walked up and ran down.Must conserve energy-going to be a long LONG day.
Just over the brow of the hill were the lovely ladies who manned a water station for a good 11 hours that day.They had taken the trouble to look up our first names and called them out as we ran through.it would have been rude not to stop and have a chat------
More concrete for ¼ mile-then more grass and rutted track-watch your feet!
Mile 5 was near another water station, and then it was back onto the slippy grass, and the cross over point where we passed the faster runners heading out onto their second lap.This was the most tricky bit of the course feet wise, as there was only one tiny track which wasn’t full of disguised potholes, and obviously I wanted to get out of the way of the speed merchants-who nevertheless called out encouragement as they passed.This is what I love about ultra events
Onto a stony flinty track and up towards the main road.Then-disaster-in the form of stomach cramps.There isnt really anywhere to hide on this course, and as I nipped off the track to do what I had to do, I spied the safety car driving towards me.I think I was quicker than Paula-hope they didn’t see me!.Uncomfortably and in pain, I limped onto the main road for the last ¾ mile to the end of the lap.The road had useful lamposts which would serve as cues to run and walk later on-but for now, I just wanted to finish that first lap-so I plodded on, and caught up a few people.Id averaged 12.5 minute miles
Despite a stop in the pub loo, Id managed mile 7 is just under 14 minutes, and things appeared to be settling down.I stopped any pretence at a strategy, and was already run /walking to feel.Surprisingly, I started overtaking people, including Viking and Pink Minnie.Well, THAT wouldn’t last.And now the first front runners began to lap us, and still these great athletes found the time for a few encouraging words to us.Viking andPink Minnie cuaght up with me half way around the lap, but I seemed to be making reasonable progress-and seemed to be closing in on Shades-most unusual.Then I realised that Shades wasn’t running, but walking at a brisk 14-15 min mile pace.it was taking me run /walk to keep pace with her and her partner-and my heart sank.Each time I overtook them, and had a walk, they overtook me again.I knew I couldn’t keep this up much longer-it was demoralising, and I hadnt hit 13 miles yet.As we hit the open road down to the pub I forced myself to overtake and run for a bit longer.I needed to be alone.
My stop at the pub was 2 minutes at most, but I managed a bite of mars bar and more water.
Id been texting the Trailwalk team on and off over the last 26 hours-and was delighted to hear that the team had finished in a smidgeon under 26 hours.So, ok, I cant run and text-but it was worth slowing down to a walk to send congratulations.Three hours in I also checked in with hubby to tell him I was ok-at around the 15 mile mark(3 hours 16).By now it must have been getting warm, as Mike the organiser appeared on the course encouraging us to be careful, to drink plenty and to tell us electrolyte drinks and salt tablets were now available.I was uncomfortable, but not desperate in the heat, even though there was now no shade at all.But I always struggle between 12 and 18 miles-and so I would expect pace to drop.I was now averaging 13-14 minute miles. I arrived at the pub and stopped for 3-4 minutes to get my Red Bull.
Shades had not caught me up-and I was a bit concerned.The Red Bull kicked in and I started to feel a little better.I almost dared to hope for a sub 6 hour marathon-though that was sheer madness given that I then had to do another marathon on top of that.I tried not to think about this.Think of laps.Thinking I was heading for half way was equally appalling.The stomach cramps started again-but fortunately came to naught.Jim caught me up and overtook me-as he had done each lap-and said he was contemplating stopping at marathon point.l
I think I reached marathon point in 6 hours and 8 minutes-a good hour faster than last time.
I was starting to feel quite smug at this point.But it was getting hotter, and I was tiring.
I was feeling pretty uncomfortable now, and had revised my target to sub 13 hours.Surely I could average 15 minute miling-I could walk at that pace for gods sake!Not on some of that terrain you cant-a near twisted ankle in a pothole disabused me of THAT idea.So-you have to keep running little bits.I took comfort from seeing the other runners on the course-who by now were simply raising a hand in salute-they were too exhausted to say much.I started to notice the flints and the stones on the course which poked cruelly into my feet.Never mind-after this lap its only 20 to go!I started to feel weak and dizzy-and realised that I must take on fuel at the next stop.A handful of crisps and electrolyte drink form the kind ladies at Concrete hill, but it didnt seem to help.I walked through the bad patch, but was struggling.I began to resent having to get out of the way of oncoming runners on the grassy pothole area, as my proprioception didn’t seem to be working enough to let me avoid the potholes.Finally we were back on blessed tarmac, and I could run again.It seemed a long way to the pub this time.I noted that I was only a few minutes behind my Dartmoor Discovery time, and this course wasn’t hilly!
Two years ago, I stopped at lap 5, so I was now in unknown territory on this course.I made a cup of tea, and ate more crisps, and gulped hi 5.Worth a few minutes stop for this, I even walked down the road with my cup of tea, clinging to it for comfort.Though I was acutely aware that I was “wasting” good running terrain-I just wanted that cup of tea.Id been looking forward to Lap 6, and following this there would only be a half marathon left to go, and I was way up on time from 2 years ago
But Id reckoned without my brain---------
The anaesthetised gremlins awoke and began chanting
I was in a REALLY BAD MOOD
I had previously loved seeing other runners on the course, but the sight of first the winner, and then of many entering their last loop was horrible.NOT FAIR-I wanted to be where they were!.Why was I so crap?
I didn’t want to run
I was stomping and walking-but I had to make myself do it
Physically, I thought I was fine, but I was so CROSS.36 miles arrived, and I was not much under 9 hours-not much different to my dreadful performance at 2 Bridges-and I had a fair way to go still.It might have been better if I had never done an ultra, and if I hadnt had my Garmin
I cast about mentally for a reason to run, and then rememebered those on the injury bench
So, David Fagan, Barnsley Runner and especially Trinity(who should have been here winning prizes)-any running I did in that sixth loop was entirely for you.It wasn’t much, but at least I managed the odd 15 minute mile.And on concrete hill, I met Speedy, who was in her fifth and final lap.Her back was troubling her. But she would soon be completing her first ultra.At one of the next water stations was Sid from the 100km association.hed lapped me twice on the course, and expressed surprise at seeing me.”Thought youd finished” he said.No, bloody hell, I have more than 2 laps to go.And my feet are killing me!I shook his hand.I doubt I smiled-sorry Sid!
I hobbled into the pub area and had a few words with Shades and Mrs Mac-who had done what they were going to do for the day.A bite of mars bar, and time for my secret weapon-a tin of gin.Well, I needed cheering up!It was at least a 5 minute stop at this point.To try and give myself a mental boost, I allowed myself a 2 minute sit down as well.That was my slowest mile-almost 23 minutes with the stop.But there was half a marathon to do, and it was time to go.
I walked along, still in a foul mood.I tried the gin-one sip, and I realised I didn’t want it.I tried to run, and my legs buckled.Ok. Physically shattered then.At this point I was coming up to 40 miles.In the changeover section, I saw Celtic Duo about to start the last mile and a half.How I wished that could be me.I didn’t know how I was going to finish 13 miles, but I did know that I had 5 hours to do it.So walk.One foot in front of the other.Mike was now at one of the water stations and kept telling me to slow down, and that I had plenty of time.I had plenty of time for the cutoff, but the time gremlin awoke and muttered that I might make sub 14 if I could only do a couple more 15 minute miles.that meant running a bit, as my walking pace was now at 17 min miling.So-I ran/walked through the swishing grass.I ran between the cracks on the concrete.And soon realised that the running was slowing my walking pace further-and the best pace I could manage even with running was 16 min miles.At this point I decided to walk only.There was still over 12 miles to go.This was the loneliest lap.The nice ladies had finally left concrete hill(although water was still there), and I almost wept when I didn’t see them.Now I felt emotionally exhausted, and in need of comfort.I kept checking my mobile, hoping for a friendly text, a crumb of comfort.The phone glinted at me balefully-nothing.I stopped to chat to Mike at the water station on the way back, and took on more water even though I didn’t need it-just for the comfort of someone giving me something.I passed the Sikh gentleman entering his last lap.Without words, we solemnly stopped and shook hands.He was suffering as much as I was, and I knew he understood.I came out on to the tarmac, and didn’t even try to run.Just get round.
The pub was practically deserted now.It was good to see Speedy had finished, and good to know that BBH was still out on the course(I checked with the lap counters).A 2 minute sit down, and a gulp ofRed Bull-and I was off again.I knew I wasn’t running again, but the end seemed in sight.Mike was still at the water station.He kept telling me to slow down.I don’t think I could have gone much slower, but I was keeping sub 20 minute miles.My feet were on fire.I could feel every timy stone, and I knew I had blisters forming.The sun was going down, and in my emotionally heightened state I jumped at my shadow more than once.I was aware of every tiny rustle in the undergrowth.Im glad I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor!The Red Bull kicked in as I hit the concrete path, and I was able to pick up my walking speed a bit.I kept thinking of sub 14.Did I have anything left to jog?.I decided to wait until Id got to the last ¾ mile on tarmac before I decided.There was still work to do.As I arrived at the final water station, 1.5 miles form the end, I felt the tears starting.In fact Im weeping at my keyboard typing this.I couldnt speak to Mike-just gave him a thumbs up and carried on.I just held it togther to wish good luck to the 2 ladies starting their last lap, and then stopped to howl.The last four hours had been a lonely hellish struggle to hold myself together.That stop did mean a 19 minute mile, but it neede letting out.Two texts arrived from hubby and Limper-most welcome.To know people are thinking of one means so much during these events.
I arrived at the road.Physically, I think I could have run.But by now, I felt so emtoianlly fragile that I though I would shatter if I had any more emotinal distress.So, I ignored the time gremlin, and walked slowy and carefully to the end.There was no sprint finish.it was a quiet understated end-which is what I needed
I cannot thank the organisers and volunteers enough for this event.Everyone is a winner , regrdless of distance.This event embodies what I consider to be the true spirit of ultra distance.Its not about the time.Its about what you can achieve for you on the day.
This goes down as one of my all time favourite events
Bring on next year!
Ran as a Mixed Relay Team (Team B7) 2 x 6.5 mile laps each.
Fabulous day out - totally recommend this race to anyone.
Organisation - first class. Well manned drinks stations, brilliant change over point for each lap.
Gold stars to the two wonderful ladies on the recording position – We were sure they didn’t move off those chairs for the full event….. Ultra-Record-Keeping!!
For the Ultra runners it was a very hot day. It was for us relay runners too but we had the advantage of a whizzing round then cooling down.
Our plan was 1 hour 15 mins each – then we got competitive with each other and averaged just over the hour per lap. 8 hrs 10 mins apparently saw us come first as Mixed Team – although we suspect that we were the only team to run it as a proper relay!! Happy to take the trophy though!
Will be running again next year as a team – got to beat the 8 hr barrier now!
Great to meet Plodding Hippo, Shades and other RW forumites on the day.