Posted: 15/06/2016 at 08:12
The Portumna Forest 100k Ultra Marathon.
I attempted the 100k at Portumna in 2014 but was made to stop by a Doctor after 85k. I’ll not go into details on what occurred in that occasion, but I’m sure some on this thread will remember my report containing the words ‘blood’ and ‘walnut’ fondly.
Two years and a bit of surgery later, I was back determined to get my revenge on my only DNF. It was only 12 weeks after a 5 week lay off but I was feeling confident after 3 x sub 3 marathons, and 35 and 51 mile training runs.
The race began at 7 am with a 50k starting at the same time. The course was a 5k lolly pop shaped lap with only a few undulations. Obviously the 100k runners had 20 laps to do and the 50k just the 10. There was also a half marathon beginning at 9am and a marathon beginning at 12 pm on the same course.
Weather conditions were perfect at the start with no wind and about 15 degrees. However, the forecast was for the low to mid twenties in the afternoon which was bound to take it’s toll. I checked the list of competitors before the start and recognised the course record holder ‘Vasiliy’ as number 39.
My plan was to run about 25 minutes a lap until about half way and allow a gradual slow down to 30 minutes over the 2nd half. This would see me finish just under 9 hours, however finishing was my main goal and I was prepared to walk or crawl if I had to! I was going to stop every lap to take about 100-150 cals. I had gels, bananas, fruit loaf, powerbars, boiled sweets, canned fruit, honey, dextrose tablets and energy drinks with me to choose from. I was well prepared this time with a plastic box which also contained Vaseline, spare clothes, tablets, toilet roll, sun tan lotion, lip balm and even the kitchen sink!
The race began on time and I settled into an easy 8 minute mile pace. 100k runners had green numbers and 50k blue and we could keep track of each other on the out and back part of the course. I counted 6 green numbers ahead of me on the first lap and I soon began chatting to guy named Darren, who was also planning to run about 25 minute laps.
As we chatted the time flew by and we completed the first 5 laps in 24:56, 24:48, 25:10, 24:52 and 25:18. Three runners had stormed ahead including the record holder. A couple more were not far ahead and few others just behind.
Darren was training for a 300km ultra over the alps and ran 140 miles weekly. However, on the 6th lap he developed a blister and had to stop to sort himself out. A few laps later he dropped out completely and I ran the rest of the race on my own. I ran 25:01, 25:23, 25:23, 25:15 and 25:33 to reach half way in about 4 hours 11 minutes. I later discovered that only 1st and 2nd in the 50k had finished their race before this!
I was still feeling good and had noticed a few other runners starting to drop back. I ran the next two laps in 25:48 and 26:02 but then it starting to get tough. The sun was out and it was over 20 degrees. My stomach was giving me a few problems too. It felt like an inflated balloon half filled with water and squelched with every step. I was finding it difficult eating or drinking anything.
I was taking longer breaks now every lap of about 1 to 2 minutes and my pace was now slowing to 9 minute miles. I ran the next two in 29:42 and 28:00 but my stomach kept getting worse. I was forced for the first time in any race to stop at a portaloo for a squat.
For about 10 seconds I released wind strong enough to shake the loo and the relief was instant. This was all I needed, and off I ran again. The relief was short lived though as I began feeling faint and had to stop to sit down. Within a minute I was running again but with ov