This Saturday saw the start of the Ultra races for 2016 with the ‘Country to Capital’ event. Starting from Wendover heading into central London, this event mixes cross country, mud, hills canals and city streets.
As ever it was crowded at the start, with around 400 entries. The route is mainly trails and woods for the first 25 miles – and the opportunity to miss-read the map, get lost and add on some ‘bonus miles’ is always in the back of my mind! Having only recently recovered from a broken foot, I knew I wasn’t in the best shape, and that my approach would need to be cautious. My longest training run had been about 14 miles….so I just planned on getting to the first check point, and then see how things were going, then the next etc.
I managed to avoid the temptation to get involved in the 300mtr sprint to the first kissing gate (cash prizes on offer) and just started slow and steady – however it was really cold (around -3) and the slow pace didn’t help me to warm up.
Reaching the first checkpoint in Chesham I felt ok, but still cold – so soldiered onwards. The terrain was a mix of either knee deep mud, or frozen solid ploughed fields – not the best for a sore foot.
As I started to clock up the miles I started to gain confidence that the foot would hold up – and reaching the canal turning at 25 miles really helped lift spirits….just 20 miles to go….
The stretch along the canal into the city is more interesting than it may sound, running past Heathrow and watching the planes quite close, as well as seeing the changing landscape from country side to built up city was good.
Although tired, I tried to push from the last checkpoint to the finish (around 11km) and managed to pass quite a few runners on this stretch – finally arriving at Little Venice (by Paddington Station) just after sun-set. – an overall time of 8h 04m – a little slower than I would have liked, but really pleased to get through the event without any issues!
Next year….sub 7 hours……who knows!
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