I honestly do not know where to start with this race report, apart from saying this race is EPIC! I’m not sure my words are really going to be able to capture the entire weekend, so expect lots of pictures!
If you have never heard of it before the basics are; the race starts at 12 noon on the Saturday and finishes at 12 noon on the Sunday. You can run as a solo, in teams of 3-5 people, or teams of 6-8. The aim is to complete as many laps as you can in the 24 hours. The laps are 5 miles of mixed terrain, through Wasing Woods. There are two fields to camp in, and the organisers advertise this as the Glastonbury for Runners.
So, I do NOT like running off-road, I am not a fan of camping, and I’m not the greatest without sleep! So why did I enter this race? Well, all I can say in Run MND! That is all! I have met the most amazing group of people through this group, and they sign up to crazy races, and I just go with the flow! We are all passionate about supporting the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and helping raise funds to find a cure for this awful disease, so an event like this helps us to raise awareness and to get together too.
Run MND had 3 teams and 2 solo runners in total, and lets just say, there was a lot of blue and orange on show for the entire weekend! 🙂
Date: Saturday 11th June – Sunday 12th June 2016
Time: 12:00 – 12:00
Weather: Overcast and quite muggy at times, spots of rain on and off on the Saturday, and then some showers on Sunday morning.
Course: The start of the loop was on tarmac and uphill! You then run on gravel, on an undulating pathway from 1K through to 5k. At 5K you experience the aptly named ‘Heartbreak Hill’. Once you have reached the top of the hill it is pretty much downhill all the way. You run through the forest, twisting and turning through the trees. I will admit to screaming down a hill around 6.5k! When you get back to the camping field, you have a small zig-zag section on the grass until you get to the exchange (for the teams) section.
My race: I had no idea what to expect with this, and knew that the race was more about enjoyment than distance or speed. I was lucky enough to be in a team of seven, but I still managed to complete 5 loops! I was the second runner in our team and was lucky enough to run the first lap with Cat. She was in one of the other Run MND teams and we explored, and experienced the course for the first time together whilst chatting away. We completed the first lap in 51: 57.
I was a little concerned about lap 2, as I wondered if I would enjoy it as much as the first as I was setting out on my own. I also didn’t know if my legs would be tired from the first lap. I started lap 2 around 6:45pm, so my only goal was to be back in time for the football! I completed lap 3 in 48:41
Lap 3 was at 2am in the morning, and I was excited to see what it was like running in the dark. I again headed out on my own, but soon started chatting to another runner, and experienced a lot of this lap with her. The glow sticks and fairy lights put up around the course made this lap feel magical – ok it could have been the sleep deprivation too! I walked all of the hills and the steep downhill, but still managed to completed the lap in 59:58.
After lap 3, I headed back to the tent to get some sleep, and really should have been able to get a good 4 and a half hours in. I managed 2! The paranoia of thinking you should be running and that you have missed you exchange really plays havoc with your sleep!
Lap 4 was at 8 am in the morning, and I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. There was no pressure, I just ran and if I wanted to walk I did. I felt really hungry towards the end of this lap, which is not surprising as I hadn’t fuelled after the last lap and then only had a banana before this lap. I looked forward to my breakfast after this lap. I completed it in 53:03
Lap 5 for me was the final lap of the race, and we organised it so I got to run/walk it with 2 of the other Run MND runners. They had been in smaller teams, so we just enjoyed a little running and lots of walking. As we approached the finish line the rest of the RUN MND joined us, and I could feel myself get emotional. It was just so special for us all to finish together.
Lesson learned: I actually don’t mind off-road and should probably try it more often! I need to take more clothes next year, as changing into fresh kit after every lap is SO nice!
- Being part of such an amazing team, and running with along side some amazing/inspiring people.
- Raising awareness for MNDA
- Completing 25 miles in a race, and not having to do the marathon shuffle and backward stair walk the day after!
- The weather was very reasonable considering the floods happening elsewhere in the UK. I think this could have been a very different event had the rain come down, or even the sun been out too much.
- The extras put on by the organisers; a big screen for runners to watch the England Match, the fairy lights at night, the constant encouragement from the marshals
- There were some issues with the toilets and showers in our camping field, which wasn’t pleasant.
- Even though the catering was very reasonably priced, they could have done with more outlets, as the queues were quite long at times.
- Not really sure whose fault this is, but the fact is, after this event, I feel myself thinking about attempting an Ultra – maybe I am still sleep deprived!
So, to some it all up, if you are thinking of doing it, I say go for it. There were runners of all abilities and everyone was supportive. Thank you to my Run MND family for making this weekend so much fun, and for encouraging me to sign up to it. I have already registered my name for next years event!!!
Have you run an Ultra before? Would you recommend it? Please leave comments below to tell me it’s a silly idea!