This was my first ever ultra running event back in 2014. I had joined the running club earlier that year and this was just so I could see if I had enough endurance in me to get round a 70.3 triathlon I had booked for September. This race started at 7pm and ran through until 7am the following day. It’s a flat course and is quite a low key event.
The plan was to just keep moving for at least 8 hours to prove I could last that long. Having never run further than 20 miles in one go on a training run, I wasn’t aiming to beat the hard core ultra runners. I was happy to cover 6 laps (5 miles a lap) so I could call myself an ultra runner.
There was a few teams entered from my club, however it was just myself and one other guy, who was a mate of a club members doing the solo from our group. He was in the forces, so I thought he would be hitting big numbers and tried not to get caught up in his race. The plan was slow and steady, that never happened! The starting horn went and we were off at what seemed like a good pace, I looked at my watch to see I was going far to fast. I did back off a bit but ended up flying round lap one. 3 laps in and the other guy doing the solo started to complain of stomach pains, so at the end of the lap stopped to take on some fluids. I carried on, now plodding round at a steady pace. Unfortunately the other guy had to pull out due to the pain; he was alright the day after.
It wasn’t long before I had hit the end of lap 5, I was excited because I had now run further than before and was heading towards becoming a ultra runner. There was a very small number of ultra runners at my club and I was in awe of them. 26.2 plus miles seemed like an impossible task, but here I was heading out to join them. As I ran I kept looking at my watch waiting for it to say 26.2 miles. That soon came and went and I was feeling surprisingly good, crossing the line at the end of that lap felt really special, 30 miles were in the bag.
I wanted more and knew that this wasn’t about the miles it was about pushing myself to keep going as long as I can. I carried of plodding throughout the night, playing games in my mind, like on what lap will the sunrise! My legs were starting to feel heavy but I wanted one more lap to make it 10, so off I went again. As I went round I started thinking to myself, how cool it would be to do the double marathon on my first ultra race. So I finished the lap and headed out once more. This lap was more of a victory lap, I thanked all the marshall as I past and just enjoyed the views as the sun was now fully up. I turned into the finish straight for the final time to see my club mates, there was 50 meters to the finish line and I was going to finish strong. I don’t know how or where it came from but I sprinted to the line like it was the end of a parkrun. The first person I saw said ‘ you do know you have time to head out again don’t you!’ I looked round and I could have headed out, but there was no way my quads were letting me. 11 laps and 55 miles was more than I could have dreamed of and I was happy to leave it there.
I spent the next hour sitting recovering and cheering in other athletes. People kept offering me food but I couldn’t eat anything. A while later there was a prize giving for the teams, of which one of our club teams had won. I was given a camera to take a photo, by now it was raining and as I stood there I came over all dizzy, I remember telling the person next to me I didn’t feel right, but it was too late. I woke up after passing out laying on the wet grass, with lots of people around me. I went to get up but no one would let me and next thing I knew I was in the back of the ambulance having a full check over. I was fine, it was just a drop in blood sugar as I hadn’t eaten anything after pushing my body for the last 12 hours. I have since found that after a race my body will accept protein shakes, which is better than the embarrassment of ending up in an ambulance.
I made it into the top ten that night, not bad for novice ultra runner.