We were shocked (and miffed!) to realise that the other group that we had previously left behind seemed to have beaten us to the checkpoint! They said they had seen us looking confused in the distance and decided not to go the same way as us! The cheek! I think we missed a stile at one point (that the instructions insisted on calling a ‘sty’) which lost us valuable minutes.
This checkpoint was a pub not just a roadside parking space, so I actually got to go to the toilet here. I was still anxious that my new running partner would let me run with her, so tried to be as quick as possible to do everything and be ready to go again! Funny, that feeling of not being good enough, not belonging.
The next stage, as far as I can remember, involved lots of elevation; lots of nettles and very steep hills both up and down. The weather got quite hot at this point too and I realised that my running partner was really not keen on the heat. We had to run down a really really steep road and I remember feeling anxious that my knees were going to be buggered from it, as it went on for so long, so I tried to keep my legs under me not in front of me (if that makes any sense – a bit of Running School theory there!)
The second half of the race involved lots of fields of sheep, cows and even bulls! At one point, we realised that we were in the wrong field and climbed over a stone wall, knocking down parts of it as we did so and trying not to break our necks. Trying to climb over a loose stone wall is tricky. After we jumped down and dodged the falling rocks, at personal risk to ourselves and probable massive annoyance of farmers, we realised that there was actually a gap between the wall further down and that we could have walked through that! At one point also, we needed to go over a stile and the position it was in the field was exactly the same place that about 40 cows were, including calves. We basically had to wait for them to move so that we could wade through the massive puddle that they were congregating in (One very wet foot for me) and climb over.
By the later stages (28 miles or so) I was starting to get hungry and had run out of water. Valuable advice that I had been given beforehand included ‘eat and drink before you get hungry and thirsty’. I did pretty well at doing this throughout and made sure I filled up my water bottle at Checkpoint 3! This one seemed to come up really quickly and again, the woman was lovely – it was literally by the side of the road, a fold out table and chair. And more peanut butter sandwiches, jaffa cakes, sweets, cola and malt loaf! I had lots this time because I realised that nutrition was really key. Like Really realised it for the first time. From this point on I kind of came to life. All the sugar, carbs etc kicked in and I was starting to realise that I was going to manage it! That my body wasn’t going to let me down. That, even though I couldn’t run a sub four hour marathon without causing a part of my body to be hurting badly, I could run 40 miles and end it running. What a thrill! When my watch died at around mile 29 we were running through Barmouth. I loved running along the promenade. We ran along a wooden bridge over a river, crossed loads of railway lines (carefully!) and got to the last checkpoint. We then (I think!) ran along a beach again (Hooray!) for ages. This was a point where my partner seemed to be struggling and slowing so I went in front for this bit. Turns out afterwards that she we would have walked this bit if it weren’t for me! Fancy! =)
We then had to navigate the only other part that wasn’t indicated by arrows on the ground – which involved running off the beach, past some dunes and heading for an airport aerial. It was at this point that myself and my running partner – called Julie (at this point we decided that we really should know each other’s names; it hadn’t occurred to us before!!) – caught up with (how exciting!) 2 women, one of which being the one that had passed me by right at the start after the first beach running bit. She looked well pissed off and obviously wasn’t having a good time by this point. The other lady had teamed up with her early on, much like me and Julie. We discussed the lack of aerial and Julie and I decided to just head to the airport landing pad thingy, straight across the wet marshland; wet feet, yes, but a very direct route, circumnavigating the aerial altogether.
At this point I started to really enjoy myself, especially because we saw the two women that we had just passed near the airport behind us as we were running ahead. It really made me want to carry on running and we became quite speedy at this point, despite lots of aches and pains and general tiredness. I also had a really sore left heel by this stage that I was sure would need ice afterwards. We bounded along grass verge paths and railway tracks and, near the end, had to run on the beach for a mile and a half. A guy helpfully told us then that the finish was just ‘up a hill and left at the crossroads’ – after running up the hill for what seemed like about 12 years, we were cursing him. We went up this very steep and LONG hill, along a road and then finally along to the castle. It was beautiful. It managed to be after 8 o’ clock by this time. I briefly considered being cross about how long it had taken, but I knew that a) it was great to finish b) there was a lot of navigating c) everyone had run further than 40 miles and d) everyone had got lost, not just me. I’m guessing I ran around 42 miles.
What I loved the most about the race was overtaking some people, (the group of 4 twice!) which made it really feel like a race, I loved finishing and not really having any aches and pains. I love the fact that I’ve done an ultra and that it didn’t kill me. Not even close. I loved all the beach running, because I love the beach, but I hated it too. It was hard.
The ironic thing was that, because it took me so long to do and then so long to get back to my B and B afterwards (1 hour taxi ride, 1 hour drive in the pitch black on my own), I didn’t even have any dinner when I got back at midnight, just had some snacks, drank loads more water and went to bed! THE END. Or Is It? Official time 11 hours 6 minutes and 35th place out of 43 runners, two of which DNF.
PS My heel stopped hurting even before the race ended!
Again, excuse its (not it's, I do beg your pardon) longness... X
Rather you than me! Sorry I meant to say, that sounded EPIC.
Extraordinary Ikle how did you just keep on running like that? Amazing mental strength
Did I scare everyone away? Don't worry, I'm back to work on Monday.
You always scare us a little Ikle
Great report.. Funny that the group of four you saw twice had 2 friends of mine in them. They finished in over 12 hours by the way.
Wonder why trail works for you now, but when you did the Bath event with all the gates it didn't.
What was the bit about The lack of aerial? And circumventing the aerial. Assumed it was an auto correct.
No, that was absolutely right! We did see the aerial but only after it was no longer necessary as a landmark. Which two did you know? Apart from the one who was doing her first because I know her. I was very careful to step down from each 'sty' not jump.
Still in awe of the Henster and Miss Ikle
I think running 42 bloody miles is epic - especially as you haven't been training for miles and miles for years and years. And no knee pain? Fab. Perhaps you've found your thing. Great report too. Exciting all the way through. LOL at the hill that lasted 12 years.
Am putting off going to bed because of the faff of cleaning my teeth.
I hate that teeth cleaning thing!
Teeth cleaning? Easier than swimming the channel or running an ultra surely??
Heh true but it's the little things. And going to the toilet in a onesie when it's cold. But that's another subject altogether.
ooh, look at that tumbleweed!
You DID scare people off this time, Ikle.
Gosh she really did scare them .......
Have briefly revisited the world of triathlon. Jack did Ready this am. Got up at 5am. The boy done good. Watching the marshalling situations was not relaxing.
What is Ready?
Did a very respectable recovery style parkrun yesterday in 24:12. Think I may go for a PB next weekend. Will have to knock 11 seconds off each of the 3 laps...
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