I can't really remember what it was that made me agree to take on the Severn Path Ultra, at that time I had so much going on with a new job, new home...lots of changes...I do remember thinking that if the lovely Vicky Andrews was going to do it, then so was I and that was that - Team UltraBot.
But, as I think everyone knows now, the lovely Vicky only went and got pregnant so had to pull out, no such liberation for me....
That was way back in October 2015... A long time until May 2016, plenty of time to train, or so I thought.
So how do you train for a 60+ mile run..? In truth, I don't know how a 'proper' athlete trains, I don't read autobiographies about amazingly inspirational super heroes who achieve epic runs, I don't follow any training plans or have a special diet....
My 'plan' was to run with the club on the usual Monday & Thursday sessions and then go for a long run at the weekend, aiming for about 40 miles if I could.
My 'actual effort' was a bit different....I lost my mojo for running and life in general for a while and the longest training run was only 18 miles, so not even a third of the distance of the event..
In my head I had broken the run down into a more manageable distance, so I just had to run four half marathons and a 10k to finish...that's ok...right..?
So that's pretty much what I did. I hadn't trained enough, didn't eat the right food, and definitely didn't get enough sleep - but I went out with a relay team and support runners from the club and did it...
Start point - Montford Bridge, Shrewsbury.
I set off with Simon & Matt, though Matt clearly wanted to go his own way...he did follow the route, even when we couldn't find the first gateway because it was so overgrown since we did the recce back in March.
A lovely, mainly off road section round the meanders of the river.
CP 1 - Atcham
One down, three and a bit to go....
Said 'see you laters' to Simon and 'Hello' to Harriet, the next relay runner.
I ate a few handfuls of salted peanuts, a quarter piece of cheese sarnie and a slice of malt loaf - I wasn't hungry but knew that I needed to keep the energy levels up.
A fair bit of on-road running in this section but still plenty of lovely country side views and animals for Harriet to talk to.
CP 2 Ironbridge
Two half marathons done, two more and the bit at the end still to do...
Stepping up as the relay runner was David, and joining the support crew was Natalie - who was also turning Ultra as she was going to stick with me to the end...
Had another few handfuls of the nuts - loving the salt, a quarter of the cheese sarnie, more malt loaf and washed it down with a cup of squash.
I topped up the hydro pack with water and set off.
This section is very familiar to lots of us, down the old railway track, so it did just feel like I was running home.
So great that the route came through Brignorth and there were some lovely peeps waiting to cheer me on.
This was not an official stop, but the lure of ice cream was too great for Matt and so in his place as support crew were Jenny & Amanda.
I took the opportunity to change my socks, after thirty or so miles they were a little bit mingy (thanks Nina for washing them)
CP 3 Hampton Loade
Three half marathons done, just one more and the 10k...
The next relay runner to join the team was Laura (Simon's sister)
I stuck to the same eating pattern - it seemed to be working out ok, and I really didn't fancy anything sweet.
I was really starting to feel it in the legs by now, and this next section had a lot of grass fields that had been cut leaving the long grass on the ground, it kept tangling around my feet which I was already struggling to lift off the ground..A much slower walk/run pace from now on..
Onward into Bewdley to be greeted with provisions of ice cold water (thanks Amos) and to say goodbye to Jenny & Amanda.
CP 4 Stourport on Severn
Four half marathons done, just this last little bit...
More nuts, cheese sarnie, malt loaf and squash.
After running over 25 miles already as my support crew, the official relay runner to take us to the finish line was Natalie, and Sarah joined as my support crew, along with Simon who wanted to do the start and the finish of the day.
By now I was pretty knackered, and so running was out of the question. I'd never been down the neck of the river and so was totally reliant on the others to keep us on course.
My watch had died at 52 miles, so I was recording the last bit on my phone - my brain couldn't compute the distance remaining, and it was clearly more than the stated 58 on the entry form. I did turn into a bit of a toddler, asking for distance updates every few minutes - "are we nearly there"... And was most put out that a bull, along with his cows and the calves, were blocking the path - how inconsiderate!! - we had to go all the way around the outside edge of the field - there was no way I was going to outrun a pissed off bull...
With the light fading and me dead on my feet, we found our way to the finish line, a caravan park somewhere in Holt - no crowds or fanfare, just Steve in his orange Landrover.
A quick medal presentation, handing out of t-shirts & a buff - photo taken for the website, and he was off to find the other chap who was 2 hours behind us..
Thanks to Rob Carr & Julie Roberts who were there to get us back home, I was a total zombie by then……
What an amazing day, a totally surreal experience... 62 miles in a day.
In hindsight, just a few things I would do differently;
- Change my shoes, not just my socks at the halfway point.
- Put my High 5 tabs in my hydro pack instead of eating them and swilling them down - they are a bit too fizzy and filled me with air (sorry Amanda)
- Eat a gel or two in the last 15 miles, even though the thought of them makes me queasy, I could have done with the boost, and was sick anyway...
And the medal I received is part of a larger five piece medal that's really pretty cool...
Too cool actually not to get the rest of it, so now you've all seen it too - who's in next year..?
If this girl can, then you can too :-)
Massive thanks to all the peeps who helped me along the way...
Natalie Carr, Simon Mapp, Matt Kirkby, Harriet Quast, David Carson, Stuart Carr, Rob Carr, Sarah Millington, Nina Williams, Jenny Norton, Amanda Prescott, Laura Livesey, Dave Prescott, Richard Amos, Julie Roberts, Vicky Andrews.