So the aim of this Ultra was to train for the 50 mile stage of the Marathon de Sables (MdS) next year... So i was in luck when the weather turned out hot... very hot.. Forcast said 29C but running in the sunshine and that goes up to 32-34 or so.. and yes, it was hot! I started at 06.30 from Clapham with two friends, Adam (centre) and Rob (on the right).. it was nice to have some company and start off at a slow pace.. 54 miles to go and i didn't want to waste energy.
Rob last till just before Mitcham about 5 miles in.. at just 9km I had my first toilet stop at Mitcham Common.. at this point the clock said 56 minutes. We were running nice and slowly - it was warm but hadn't heated up too much yet. At Carshalton Adam left me and he ran all the way back to Clapham - good man! So this was my first stage on my own but i managed to keep my speed down. At Woodmansterne I nearly took a wrong turn but checked my map and tracked back about 500m... at this point about 18.32km (about 11 miles) the clock said 1.52 hours... downhill section now! Through a few up and downhills I came to Fannys Farm Shop where Amy was waiting for me.. Great to see her and chat about things from there the weather was really starting to get hot!.. we quickly drank all the water and refilled at a car wash in Nutfield - for free :) cheapest water here!
These roads seemed to go on for ages and we walked a few times so i could get some energy back - plus there was no point on over doing it. James met us in the Outwood area and then there was three!
Before long Amy left us.. If i remember rightly that was at Smallfield.. she had done a great job! At this point around 40km (24.8 miles) and 4 hours in.. me and James took a wrong turn which cost 1 mile but that didn't bother so much... the heat was getting to us though - I had another stop for a Calippo ice pole which did the trick.. Water consumed to this point about 3 litres. It was great to see the Turners Hill sign.. it really did mean progress for me.. lots of walking and running and huge ammount of effort were helping.. James was great - taking photos and enjoying the barriers we were crossing.. Full Marathon and then not long after - my first 50K! We checked at this point 47.23 km and 5hrs 15mins.. Turners Hill here we come!
At Turners Hill I had my first long rest - James left me at this point so i took the opportunity of resting for about 1 hour (and i had a beer lol) .. 51.66KM (32 miles) and 5.49 hours! Phew! I must admit even with the weather the first part was fairly easy for me and a great feeling sitting on the grass chatting to James and his friends... However, I had to press on...
I was now on my own till the end! and that was another 22 miles away.. two nice long downhill stretches took me into the next section toward Ardingly & Haywards Heath - then quickly into the open country and hot sun.. the road was hard to run on most of this section.. no path. I had to keep stopping even from walking and get out the way of traffic.. this was annoying but you have to play safe and keep crossing the road to stay visible to cars and lorries. Ardingly came and went - a lovely village - as too was Lindfield which was full of thatched cottages.. almost every town I went through I bought a litre more of water and filled up my bottles.
At 61.3km (38 miles) I was really slowing down - I really started to think I might not make it.. I had a quick read of comments on Twitter and Facebook - this cheered me up and onwards I plodded.. 6.54 hours at this stage.
Haywards Heath took ages to appear.. it seemed that 3 miles felt like 10 at this point!! more water! legs felt tired and painful - nipples hurt like mad! lol.. and just always felt thirsty.. at HH it was 7.44hours and 66.36 KM. There is a long grinding hill into HH which I walked up all the way but it was tough - very tough. Out of town I had my sights set on Ditchling which was my ultimate checkpoint and goal before Brighton. It was SO HOT.. I cannot tell you how I felt .. jelly babies were going down well and water too - something was missing though.. I needed a break.. And I took 30 minutes in a garden centre just before Ditchling.. 73.47 km (46 miles) and 8.45 hours.. I had a banana bar which tasted as dry as eating sand and a Yazoo choc shake which went down very well.. I ate half the bar and sat in the shade hyping my self up for the last 9 miles.. Mentally I had to overcome some big obstacles at this stage. However, arriving in Ditchling was an amazing moment!
Ditchling in famous for one thing - the Ditchling Beacon.. on the cycle ride its everyones goal to ride up it.. I walked and I am proud of that ;) ... You rise up 814 feet and its the third highest point on the South Downs.. the view from the top is just amazing.
Of coarse - when you are at the top its a downhill section to Brighton... well.. it is on a bike! when you are running it doesn't feel downhill at all on a lot of parts so the walking began again but I could see Brighton in the distance and this spurred me on. at this point the time said 9hours and the distance - 79.33km - which is just under 50 miles..
Some sections to the main Brighton road were quite steep and lovely to run down - but when I reached the road I was as good as there and walking got the better of me most of the way on the outskirts my watch said 10.10 hours and 83.25km.. I needed a break so found a petrol station and fuelled up again drinking more water and Lucozade Sport... rested here for about 15 minutes. by the time I reached the end my Garmin had died - its last reading: 10.45 hours and 54.17 miles..... in kilometers - 87.18....
As you can see by the next picture I got very dirty just running along roads - my lower back suffered a red raw mark from rubbing on my rucksack - my legs were achy all over - I wasn't hungry.. just needed water... I walked straight to the train station - total mileage aprox - 55.5 and around 11 hours to complete.. I learned a lot but it was so worth it.
I want to thanks everyone for your kind texts, tweets & comments during the day.. and especially Amy, Adam, James and Rob for the support runs ,, amazing all of you. :)