Firstly I want to say thanks to the directors and others who helped to run this event! Special thanks go to Sharon who helps out at the event. Who went out of her way to start making vegan goody bags for those who wanted to take part who are vegan. There’s not many goody bags you’ll ever get with vegan organic flapjacks and organic chocolates. This was such a nice thing to do and that will stick with me for life. Also special thanks go to the Sea Cadet Centre in Kings Norton. They were all dressed in uniforms the adults and children and at the start line 30 miles away, on all check points and the finish line. They were so friendly and helpful to everyone. The kids couldn’t’ do enough to make sure you had what you needed. At the end it was funny to hear them saying “oh yes Scott needs a special goody bag!” haha 😀 I highly recommend ANYONE taking part in this event! If you can’t (don’t want to) run 30 miles then take part in the group relay teams where you can 10 miles each.
I had run this distance and a little more 7 times up until this day. I considered myself an ultra runner, but not an ultra marathoner. I read something somewhere that states to be an ultra marathoner you have to have had actually run an event… not just run on your own. 5 of the previous were ran alone and 2 others with friends. So it’s great that I have popped my ultra marathon cherry 😉
It was a pretty epic day all round to be honest. The event was on Saturday 12th September 2015. I got up early and meditated to get myself focussed for the day. I got my bags together and headed for the bus stop. When I checked the timetable I realised I’d be safer with a taxi. So I called a taxi to collect me from the bus stop. This was an ace decision… when he turned up he saw my Vegan Store linen bag that had my check point drinks in it. He commented on it, and I though he was going to be a vegan hater. He asked where I was going and I said Cadet Centre as there’s a race today. He said “vegan and a runner? That’s pretty awesome. Well done”. Out of curiosity I asked if he was vegan and he said yes, and then went on to talk about how great Scott Jurek is and his recent achievement running over 2,000 miles. Then we discussed the contents of his book and his personality. All round I felt like I was in a dream lol.
When I arrived at the cadet centre there was free tea and coffee while we all waited for the hired coach to take us to the start line in Stratford Upon Avon… we would run 30 miles back here!
The raining had stopped by the time we arrived and it was looking promising to be a nice sunny day. Everyone put their bags in and check point drinks went into 2 different boxes for each checkpoint. We all then headed to the start line for briefing at 9:45.
Time was called at exactly 10 and off we went. It’s tricky enough to find your pace as it is on race day, but it was even more so today… there were a lot of relay teams and they were running 10 miles for each leg… so naturally a lot of them will be going faster than us doing the whole length. I kept an eye on my Garmin watch and made sure I didn’t go over 85-88% Max HR. I pretty much kept heart rate intensity for the entire race. Naturally I slowed down for the same HR after a while.
About 40 mins in it started absolutely throwing it down. Luckily this only lasted for about 10 minutes and then it cleared up and we had a really nice day all day… not too hot and not too cold. Plenty of sun, but enough shelter from over hanging trees alongside the canal towpaths.
Some people can’t stand the canals for running. They get bored of the flatness or the winding narrow body of water stretching for miles. I like the canals… it helps me to zone out and get on with it. The first half was a slight incline due to there being so many locks, but it wasn’t anything too difficult.The second half was flat as a pancake apart from a climb about 2 miles from the end as you need to come up to the road and get back on the canal 2 streets across.
I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I briskly walked up the steeper locks and ran the rest. From about mile 18 I turned off my music, and I started counting every time my right foot hit the ground. I did this from 1-20 and I just kept doing that all the way to the end! There were a few breaks in between were I chatted with a few of the other runners out there. I just kept checking my time every once in a while so I could have some dates and liquids every half an hour from my waist belt.
The last mile and half is a section of another canal that I run several times a week so I starting picking up the pace knowing I was right near the end then. I came over the finish line with a finishing time of 5 hours and 5 minutes. This is 40 minutes off my previous personal record for this distance. I claimed my VEGAN Goody RUCKSACK, ate some tangerines and waited for my friends to finish.
There we have it. End of my first ever successful season. I have been running a few years now but have been held back by injuries every season before. I’m starting to learn my body, what works and what doesn’t. I’m getting stronger. I have done 5 races this season and got 5 personal bests. Now I’m taking 2 ish weeks recovery and then I’ll be starting a new season as I prepare myself for the beast that is Enigma’s Week at the Knees – 1 week of marathons every day 😀