Ultrarunning, ultramarathon news and events

Marlborough Downs Challenge 2012 Race Report

Posted on the Ultralist:
Date: Tue, 15 May 2012 17:14:25 +0100
From: Julie Ashman
Subject: Marlborough Downs Challenge Race Report

Hi All
Apologies for the waffling but I’m still really excited at running so far.
Thank you for the good luck emails.

UK Marlborough Downs Challenge 33 miles (32.2 actually, 7 pages of directions!)
‘Mostly off-road along tracks and footpaths through Wiltshire countryside.’
Sat 12th May 2012

My first ultra didn’t go quite to plan but I loved every minute of it: all 9 hours 48 minutes of the 36.25 miles – you can see it didn’t go to plan!
My friend Ro & I were running together. Out of the other 5 from our club, one came 3rd overall, another 2 did it in 6hrs 13. The other 2 we caught up with at
about 15 miles & ran with them til the end.

The weather was perfect, cool, not too breezy, blue sky but with a few clouds. After a lovely hill to walk up after only .3 of a mile, it was nice & easy
to the first checkpoint. Then it was through the bluebell woods, but I just couldn’t run through those without taking a photo. It was incredibly muddy and slow going due to the amount of rain we have had over the last few weeks and at this point, 2 of our little group of 4 went on ahead & over the next few miles we would only catch sight of them in the distance.

We made the second checkpoint with only about 10 minutes to spare (a combination of mud & enjoying the views) but at least underfoot was great now we were out of the woods. We chatted with dog walkers, horse riders who all wanted to know what we were doing, (& why!) & how far we were going.

Checkpoint 3 came & went, we topped up on jaffa cakes (Ro), fig rolls (me) and I put more carb powder in my water bottle. We were still in awe of the stunning views and the joy of just being out there, no pressure, enjoying the company & loving every minute. We were both fastidious in following the directions & checking with each other that we were on track, but there were loads of arrows directing us. We then had a lovely flat 3 miles along a canal towpath. We still had some walking breaks but managed to get our average pace up a bit (which was nice but not a big thing)

We found our friends at Checkpoint 4 after about 15 miles and stayed together from then on. We had all completed marathons (London or Brighton) in the last month & didnt know how we would cope with 33 – but that was half the fun, finding out).

Checkpoint 5 came & we kind of got complacent with the arrows, chatting, chopping & changing who was running with whom. After a couple of miles we realised we hadn’t gone through any gate over stiles etc & had actually missed nearly a page of directions! DOH!!! We had missed a gate only .3 of a mile after checkpoint 5 & had done an extra 3.5 miles by the time we got back to the gate. That was game over, no way we would make the next checkpoint in time (they were still there however & we topped up on supplies) but we were still aiming to finish inside the 8 & half hours.
That too went out of the window when one of the girls hurt her knee so it was then a lot of walking/running to the end. They said Ro & I should go on, but we couldn’t leave them.

The last 2 checkpoints were deserted except for a couple of policemen at CP7 who offered us a lift to knock of a few miles, but we couldn’t do that either. So only 7 miles of more beautiful countryside, stunning views, tiny lambs, and a few more hills ’til the end.

With half a mile or so to go, we get a phone call from the organisers as they needed to lock up the finish & our friends bags were still there, so Ro & I ran on ahead so they could lock up & go home, 9 hours 48 minutes after we started!

I don’t think our friends will do another but Ro & I are on the lookout for more.

I have already signed up for Caesars Camp 50 miler in October and with the legs feeling nearly okay, after a bit of swimming & walking I can’t wait to get back out there.
I definitely need new off road shoes though – I hadn’t done enough off road training in my trail shoes which usually give me sore feet after 6-8 miles so went with my road ones.
My dodgy hip which I have been nursing through the last few months was fine & feels better now than it has for AGES – very strange, but I’m not complaining!

A HUGE thank you to all the people on this email list for their inspiring posts which has got me just so excited about running. I NEVER thought I had it in me to go as far as I did on Saturday & the fact that I didn’t find it really hard means I know I have much more in me.

I presume it doesn’t count as my first official Ultra as we didn’t get a time as nearly everyone had gone home by the time we got to the end + we were timed out, but I don’t care, it was BRILLIANT.
We did have to stop off at a pub on the way home for water, lime & soda & peanuts as there had been no food or water at the finish + we had got lost almost as soon as we had left the car park so needed to stop for directions – we still didn’t care as we’d had such a good day.

Apologies again for the ramble and thank you for reading.