River Ayr Way Challenge 2011

This is only a quick summary of last Saturday. The sit-down-with-a-cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuit blog post will be later in the week once I get all the memories sorted out in my head.

I have a full memory of the race but apart from mile 1, mile 10, mile 24.5  & mile 26 and the last bit (the watch died – I have no idea how long the race was) I haven’t sorted out the memories yet –

Like I’ve dropped a whole bunch of holiday photographs and have to re-arrange them – that sort of thing.

The race  – if you read the website in detail is called a ‘challenge’  and not a race.

I now know why.

River Ayr Way. Sounds bucolic and benign. – a stroll down by the stream.

That last word – challenge – that’s the toe in the balls.

For anybody reading this in Ireland, imagine the Connemara Ultra – now climb over the ditch into the field where the sheep are staring at you. Make sure your feet are covered in mud up to your ankles.

Now start running.

Make sure you go up’ some’ vertical climbs (for ‘some’ read ‘lots’) and run down the other side of them.

Make sure you go through ‘loads’ of kissing gates.  (for ‘loads’ read ‘hundreds’)

Make sure you run through armpit high nettles (which, to be fair, will wake up your legs).

Make sure you get lost.

Now you’re close to the ‘challenge’.

Think a 40 mile plus cross-country run – but harder.

Having said all that, which really just puts a bit of context on the whole thing, it was an amazing event.

I have never run an ultra before and chosing an off-road cross-country ultra marathon was something my girlie paved roads training could not have prepared me for.

My training also couldn’t have prepared me for the intense camaraderie of everybody I met while running  – both the crews and other runners. For most of these people this is a ‘normal’ pass time.

In terms of the running  everything went pretty good.

The heart rate was too high but this was due to adrenaline at the start and heat and fatigue at the end. It didn’t bother me as I always felt comfortable.

the nutrition went pretty OK as well. I ate as much as I could until about mile 25 and then it was either warm sugary coffee, water or flat coke until the end. I never want to see a rice crispie square or banana milk again!

The running went well which was a bonus. No cramps, no leg pains – well, no sore knee pains – loads of muscle pains.

The pacing was fine for the running sections – where you could run – with all the miles coming in between 8:30 – 10:00 min/mile which was fine.

There were sections where running was impossible (up and down steep hills, gorges and steps) and there were sections where it was safer to walk for the sake of your legs.

I took my lead from people around me who had run the west highland way (95 miles) and other ultras in the past in regard to walking. Basically, if they walked, I walked and it seemed to pay off as I had no problem running home the last 5 or so miles non-stop.

The winning time was 5:18 and I came in in 31st place at 7:14.

I think I passed through the full marathon at 4:30 – 4:45 but, as I said before, I’m not sure (the garmin is still at the bottom of the bag).

In terms of finishing times I thought I’d go faster (Around 6:50) but I hadn’t reckoned on the terrain (which is a very polite and under stated word for it).

Somewhere in the early 30’s of the mileage a 3:15 marathoner and the 4th lady home, Elspeth Jenkins, said to me – while dressed like Brittany Spears older sister – You can’t predict your times in these things – it’s impossible.

So, that’s the summary.

A more detailed boring running version will appear in the next few days (in which I will list the 20 or so people who were standing in the wings like proud/nervous parents  as I stood on the proverbial school stage reciting my poem in a dull monotone with damp underpants on and without whom this thing would never have happened).

Loved it.



6 responses to “River Ayr Way Challenge 2011

  1. Well done Richard! Great feeling to have that one under the belt I bet. Can’t wait for the detailed account…

  2. That “intense camaraderie” is something that makes the pain worthwhile, I guess and there is a certain joy in thrashing the body but you are going to have to explain it to me!

  3. Am eagerly awaiting your report – I want to find out what this off-road ultra running thing is that John Kynaston has been trying to get me to do for years.

  4. Pretty long for a “quick summary”. Will the full report be serialised.

    Well done on finishing strong in a solid placing and keeping all body parts intact. Certainly not comparabe to a road ultra and more “fun” I imagine – the only comparison you will be able to draw is against your time next year 😉

  5. I hope the hobbit feet have returned to normal at this stage!! Well done again & when can we expect volume 1 of war & peace??

  6. Forget the long version — that one was perfect. Besides, I’d need scones with jam and cream to go with my cuppa.

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