This is the short version for the non-running community.
I’m back at work and busy so the full length ‘director’s cut’ report will have to wait until later in the week. If you’re a runner the longer version with all its blisters and junk food and mile paces and understatements like ‘a bit technical’ will be for you.
If you don’t have the stamina for the full report and you want to try to understand what it’s like to run this sort of race – 53 miles and 2,600m of ascent (ascent is the word we use for ‘going up hills’ ) – then I have only two things to tell you (either borrowed from other runners or my own revelations):
Why? Well, as someone said to me at around mile 10 last Saturday: When my life flashes before my eyes, I want to have something to look at.
I can certainly say, without question, that the total immersion in the activity is something you don’t get in marathon running or watching television or gardening or shopping in the out-of-town commercial centre or whatever makes up the noise in your life.
It is Total Living
How? The full version will have the full details on nutrition, hydration, training, shoe selection, clothing, pacing, injury, mid-race problem solving, mental fortitude and achievement but for now the answer is (again borrowed from somewhere): Relentless forward progress.
When (or if) you read the full version of this or other reports you’ll see people write about gathering their thoughts or taking stock or pausing for a bit. What they mean is that they are always moving forward. A tricky (lung burstingly steep) hill or a very technical (mountain goats avoid it) section are still taken on at the edge of the envelope of your ability and often, you realise as you narrowly avoid using your face as a handbrake, beyond your ability.
I was very worried about the distance (because it is very, very long) and I’d had less than optimal preparation (I didn’t train enough) for the race so I adopted a very conservative approach and went out super slow. This paid off as I was able to run everything that was runnable and injury only threw me off-course for one section. Once I had lost my fear of the hills and the distance (with about 4 miles to go) I ran all the way and of the 416 entrants and 362 finishers I finished my day at 11hrs 37 mins and 23 sec and in 181st position. My interval splits (the boring bit, you can switch over to another channel now) were position 289 at about 12.4 miles (2hrs 07min), 217 at 27 miles (5hr 11min), 186 at 41 miles (8hr 39min) and 181 at 53 miles (11hr 37min).