A few months ago I made a bold statement – “I’m going to run an ultramarathon” – I said confidently. Friends and family quizzed me slightly concerned, “What’s that?”, “But you have never run a marathon!” and “Why?” seemed to crop up the most. Shortly after this, I came across a flyer in Outside, Hathersage for Dig Deep’s Peak District Intro Ultra. This was exactly what I had been looking for… the perfect excuse to buy the running top I had been eyeing up for the past 10 minutes! Approaching the counter, I happily justified my purchase as essential kit for a budding ultrarunner! Joking aside, I had been wanting to push my running for some time and was keen to sign up for an event that would ensure I trained – so with 30 miles and 4200ft of ascent I was certain this would do the job.
Fast-forward a bit, and there I was, knees knocking, on the start line at Whirlow Hall Farm! I soon spotted a few familiar faces from the Tuesday night fell runs with Front Runner. However I need not have worried about turning up by myself, the atmosphere was great (runners are generally a friendly bunch) and everyone was chatting excitedly.
Before I knew it, we were off! After the horrendous weather the day before, Saturday turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. Having ditched the lucky running rocks (yes really – 2 large stone I had collected from previous adventures and never removed from my pack!) I felt fresh and ready to go. Having never run the distance before I was cautious about not go too fast too early and running out of steam. However, the first two hours passed surprisingly quickly! I put this down to good company. As everyone had settled into the race, a group of four of us, Nick, Suzie, Philip and I, happened to be a very similar pace so ended up chatting most of the way round. I hope I have remembered names right – thanks for the motivation guys; you made the journey a lot of fun!
The first tough section was the climb up Win Hill. Out of the breeze, this was hot and hard work. However, I was pleased to see that hill training has been paying off and I certainly found it better than I would have done a month or so ago. After this, the halfway point and main aid station came pretty quickly and soon I was in Bradwell. This came at just the right point as I had just started to flag, and walking into the massive picnic they had put on was a real pickup. Best of all they had salted pretzels which I had been craving the whole way round – mmm. I think I would have been quite content to relax here for a bit, however, knew if I was any longer than five minutes or so getting going again would be tough – so I continued.
Miles 20-25 were probably the hardest for me – over half way but still a considerable distance to go. Luckily the great views, company and supporters kept me going and before I knew it, I was approaching the home straight. I crossed the finish line in 6 hours 38 minutes, which I was thrilled with. Previous estimations from friends before the race had ranged from a very optimistic 5 1/2 hours to the far less 10 hours. So not knowing I had settled on around 7-8 hours and had told my friends that were coming to support times accordingly – the result of this meant everyone who came to watch me (including a surprise visit from my family) missed me running. Sorry guys!
Crossing the finish line was a fantastic feeling of accomplishment. For anyone out there thinking of giving this sort of thing a try – go for it! The whole day was friendly and well organised and the ideal distance to get started. Thanks to the organisers and volunteers for all their hard work and big thanks to everyone who came to support me.
It’s already got me thinking… the 60 miler might be good fun next year…!