This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Race Reports

Stage One: Ultra Running Lesson One - the hard way!!

It was cold, very windy and heavy rain clouds hung over the horizon as we stood at the top of the hill at Ivinghoe Beacon waiting for our start. I felt surprisingly calm and in pretty good shape. My game plan was to stick with the main bunch of runners for the first 20 miles or so and then see how I was feeling and maybe push on from there or at least try and hang on to the leaders if they were faster.

Of course, this is me! So instead of doing what was sensible I blasted down the hill at in impressive pace opening up a 100m gap before we’d reached the end of the first field. I tired to tell myself to slow down and that 30 miles was a long way to go and that it was foolish, but none of it got through. I just went. It felt great and I felt as though I was skipping across the beaten mud and chalky paths through the green fields and into the

forest paths. After about 4 miles I glanced back over my shoulder and there was no one in sight, I was clear. There was no one about and no one in front of me, as it would be at least 9 or 10 miles before I got the first of the slow runners. The course was magnificent and although it was breezy and damp with light rain it wasn’t too cold. I was having a great time.

At 6 miles I was following the little white acorns and finger signs that indicated the way to go and was starting to feel pretty good about myself. I was even patting myself on the back for following the course so well. I was about to learn my first lesson in trail running. Don’t get complacent with the route. I came out of a forest and the finger sign said left on to a tarmac road, which I followed. I was still all on my own and apart from a tractor with a hedge trimmer there was no sign of life. I followed the road looking out for the next finger sign for

the Ridgeway, but nothing. The road kept going. There were a few footpaths, but we had been told explicitly that there would be either a white acorn or a finger sign saying Ridgeway and I couldn’t see either of them. I started to panic, it didn’t feel right.

Of course any sensible trail runner would have done some preparation before such a race and at least looked at a map of the Ridgeway. Shit, I am lost!, was all I could think! I ran back up the road and found an old lady getting into a car. I quickly sprinted up to her before she could drive away and asked if she knew where the path to the Ridgeway was.

“Ridgeway?” she answered confused and my heart sank. She pondered for a moment and then said she would ask her son. Moving agonisingly slowly she wondered from her car to another cottage buried behind a thick hedge. I looked at my watch as the minutes and seconds

February/March 2011 | Ultrarunning World 15

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48