Race diary now done . Just having a few issues with Blogger. I can run but my IT skills are s**t.
Soon as I can work out how I will publish.
Hope this works! This is my account of the race . It probably says much more about me than the race.
I appear to have focused on what was happening in my head over the 7 days. Having said that I am convinced that it was my mental attitude that got me over the finish line rather than any physical training. ( my pre race training was pathetic!)
The longer the ultra the more significant are the mental issues. At 268miles the spine will always be on the end of the scale for all the runners.
This is a very long read but so was the race!
A fantastic write-up Ian, I loved reading every minute of it!!! Have covered some of that terrain over the years and been out in gnarly winter stuff etc so could imagine what you were describing so well.
So did you get to do any route recces before you set off on the race? That for me is the hardest thing, I have yet to do any ultra where I have recce'd - family commitments and logistics make getting to the races a challenge in the first place! I can totally see how mental strength got you to the finish line, but also your past experience dealing with that kind of weather etc. I guess you need to be good a being uncomfortable!
I LOVED the bit about you hoovering up unfinished plates of food in the pub, and likening yourself to a wild animal
I had done no recces at all apart from running past the refuge hut in september whilst competing in the RAB mountain marathon.(so at least I knew it existed!)
As for dealing with the weather I have never faced anything like that before. Never even camped in the snow.
As for being uncomfortable I never felt over cold whilst moving. I am not fast but I am big and fairly powerful so carrying a heavy pack is no problem for me. I always had plenty of reserve food and layers in my pack apart from the last night.
Over 12 Mountain Marathons have taught me the value of comfort in long haul races. It has also taught me how to use layering in different conditions. As ultra runners we do tend to get hung up about min pack weight. This is a big mistake on the Spine. ( A cold night trying to sleep will wreck you the next day)
Interesting re the recces (or lack of). I've seen that refuge hut just once too - on the Adventurehub Northumberland ultra in 2011 in the dark ... agree a lot can be learnt from mountain marathons, they are not always especially comfortable - particularly the overnight aspects and putting back damp kit etc on.
It was also interesting to read of you taking a tent, I know I always prefer my laser over a bivvy bag, despite the xtra weight. I'm usually laughed at on MM for taking my 3/4 thermarest and down bag too - but then I am not the speediest participant!!
It's the management of the cold which has made me waver about having a bash at this - I come from a mountaineering/hillwalking/climbing background and have done plenty of winter mountain days in harsh weather, but my circulation seems not to be improving as I age!! Although, that said, despite my small frame I have managed to keep warm on recent forays into the Cairngorms on some winter climbing days ... hmmm back off to chew the cud on this one.
But whether I do decide to give it a bash at some point, your report was a fine old read
I'm with Ian on recce's - if you get to a poorly marked boggy section in the dark no amount of recces is going to help! Beyond CP3 Middleton (where I withdrew last year), I'd seen none of the course and not sure it would have helped that much if I had. It was actually really nice to see fresh sights for the first time
The Cheviots - well it's 28 miles essentially following a fence/wall most of the time!
More important to train in appropriate terrain - lots of hills etc
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