Ridgeway Challenge 2014

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16/11/2013 at 23:47

Yikes... I'm in.

Done a 50m in just under 12 hours, Got the Wall in June which is 69M but this feels a real step up.

Any advice is appreciated

16/11/2013 at 23:54

Is that Ridgeway 85 (TRA), Aug BH weekend?  Have had 4 completions so far so I know a reasonable bit about it.  Very well organised and amazing aid stations.

An ideal first through-the-night race.

Not sure if I can do it in 2014 since I've entered the Ring O Fire Ultra which begins 5 days afterwards.

16/11/2013 at 23:57

I'll get some practise doing The Wall in June, so that's 69 miles and i've done a 50M so stepping up in stages but yes this will be my first fully through the night.

17/11/2013 at 00:55

Going by this thread, surely this should have been called 0-85 miles in 27 months?


Though not sure you recover fully for Loch Ness so that might be in my favour

18/11/2013 at 02:10

What was the 50-miler and on what sort of terrain?

18/11/2013 at 02:34

3 and a bit laps around a reservoir. (Ladybower) So very even track / tarmac, a few k on stony ground and hardly any grass running with round 4000ft of elevation so under half of this. So yes it was a nice intro to Ultras.

Not like the ridgeway I suspect. I'm doing the Hardians Wall thingy in June so that will be good practise, at 69m

i know I need to learn, and quickly, pointers I guess on what sort of terrain I need to try to emulate are gratefully accepted, and any other words of advice i know it's often the little things I completely slip up on. 

Edited: 18/11/2013 at 02:35
18/11/2013 at 10:46

It was the up and down that ruined me when I did this, think I was well trained for the distance but naive about the hills. They're not even that big but pretty steep in places and once the damage is done you're obviously in trouble. If you're able to run 50 and 69 then you've definitely got the distance. Look for marathons with about 2000m+ vertical or if you live somewhere hilly plot your own. A few of those and you'll be in great shape.

18/11/2013 at 10:55


I think my average runs have about 10m of elevation in them.  ooops! Think I may need to stray further from home at times

18/11/2013 at 11:05

I have three Goals

C: Finish it.

B: Would be nice not to be last finisher, but i'm realistic, and someone has to be.

A: Get under 24 hours

My A target is highly doubtful, as I had a look over the weekend 59 out of 106 got under 24 hours last year... 74 in total made it to the end if I remember.

So fun and games...

18/11/2013 at 19:29

OK Booktrunk

As other people have said, the Wall and the Ridgeway are  races that require very different tactics from the Ladybower 50.  I am going to guess that you used some sort of time based run/walk strategy for Ladybower.  With these two races I would suggest that you walk the uphill sections from the start, while running the downhill sections and flats.  There are plenty of people on this forum who have done both the Wall and the Ridgeway, and they will be happy to answerer any questions. 

If you want to get a bit more experience with hills and trails, then there are a couple of  hilly trail marathons in your home county in early 2014. The Belvoir Challenge has some stiff ascents, and I understand that the Charnwood Marathon does as well.  If you want some more hilly training routes around your home county, then I can help with that, as I have trained for  all of my ultras almost exclusively round Leicestershire. 

The dropout rate with these events can be daunting, but you can get pretty good at beating the odds, once you know what separates the N% that finish from the N% that DNF.   

Edited: 18/11/2013 at 19:43
18/11/2013 at 19:44

Thanks Ben. I'm starting out gently, went around Bradgate Park a couple of times on Sunday. Think until Xmas I'm going to stick with running around there a minimum of two laps each weekend as a gentle way of breaking myself into hills. 

I admit that I'm thinking of doing the walk anything uphill method, but hey, let's see how I improve over the next few months. I'm aware I don't want to get carried away and blowup and run out of energy far to early.

hopefully building up to quite a few laps without to many issues

Edited: 18/11/2013 at 19:46
18/11/2013 at 19:56

The course of the Woodhouse Challenge (map available on website) makes a very good training run for hilly ultras.  It is a 13.5 mile trail route, which can be replicated without treading on private land, with one minor modification.  You can then extend it out to 20 miles with a couple of minor changes. In my preparations for the Lakeland 100, I used two laps of the course as my longest training run. 

18/11/2013 at 19:59

Oh wow. Ok I'll take a look at that. I'm going to owe you a pint or two one day  

18/11/2013 at 22:09

Although less likely to be a problem for this paricular event mud can be a real killer on the Ridgeway.  The first section to Goring can be incredibly hard if there has been any significant rainfall prior to the event.  After Goring the going is easier, but the chalk can be tricky if there is surface water.

18/11/2013 at 22:30

Yes, you'll need to consider shoes carefully, dependent on how wet it is underfoot.  A lot of the first half is in woods/around field edges and needs good grippy,trail shoes.  Consider changing to road shoes for the second half which contains a lot of stony tracks.

Have some warmer clothes in the halfway drop bag for the night, including gloves. Gets very cold on the Downs, even in August.

It'll be dark before you get to Goring so have one warm layer and your headtorch from the start.

None of the hills are serious, mostly very short, and you should walk most of them anyway.  Smeathe's Ridge about mile 78 is long, grassy, and a bit demoralising, though.

The CP cutoffs, apart from the first two, are very generous and I'm sure you'll be fine.

18/11/2013 at 22:47

one of the things that attracted me was the frequency of the checkpoints. Bit of a comfort blanket. That might sound wussy, but first time fully through the night etc, it seems sensible to me. 

I already know I am not a fan of camelbak style water packs. I utterly love salomon soft flasks. Got 2 and will get 2 more so if it's really hot can have 2l of liquid between checkpoints. So I'm slowly learning what works for me.

trail shoes are something to look at I guess almost tempted to just find the cheapest pair of salomon trail shoes I can and just give them ago. Other recommendations gratefully taken onboard. I was going to say pointless... Just wear my older pair of road trainers, but I slid over twice in hardly any mud Sunday, so I'm thinking I might have to back down on that point.

Still need to go and try on a waterproof top, between montane, omm and a few recommended ronhill tempest. 

Edited: 18/11/2013 at 22:50
18/11/2013 at 22:55

Thanks for the trainer tip trex in my 1 ultra I swapped into new socks and a dry clean pair of trainers for the last 15m felt a lot fresher doing that.

18/11/2013 at 23:52

Scratch that one cheap salomon trail shoe weights the same pretty much as a pair of the posher ones. 

Will need to read reviews on different brands etc... Then probably ignore it all and find a cheap decent pair and hope

19/11/2013 at 00:38

Welcome to the never-ending quest for the 'right' off road shoes!

I think I've finally found them for me - La Sportiva Crosslites.

I forgot to say that - always take a couple of pairs of clean socks on long ultras, and foot powder to dry your feet.  Most events have a kit list which is enforced to varying degrees, but a waterproof jacket I would say is essential.  Less so the trousers - I hardly ever wear mine.

If you don't have the skill currently learning to use a map and compass would be a very useful idea.  Saves hesitating at complicated track junctions at night if you know the bearing you need to continue on.

This event has no waymarks. You follow the National Trail white acorn signs, as I presume you will be in The Wall.  (That's one I must do one day.)

19/11/2013 at 08:53

You've plenty of time to experiment booktrunk and you'll be putting plenty of miles in, so you'll be going through a few pairs of running shoes so you'll know what works for you soon enough.  

I've done the Ridgeway and Wall over multi stages - I will attempt the full 85 next year when I get a bit of pocket money to enter.

One never knows what an English summer will throw at us weather wise.  I ran the wall in road shoes as it's mostly road - maybe only 15 miles or so is trail.  The Ridgeway, as has been pointed out, can be slippy with clay and also by the Thames it can be boggy as hell it it's wet, but if we have a dry summer, I reckon road shoes would suffice.  I ran the Ridgeway in one pair of trail shoes (over three days).  They were Mizuno ones.  

But you have to find ones that suit you.  The running shop I go to, gets their selection out and you can spend plenty of time trying them on and going for a quick jolly out in the car park.  I know that's not the same as an ultra, but some you can certainly discard straight away.

And as T-rex has quite rightly pointed out - try out different socks.  Really important.

And clip your toe-nails!

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