Monday, 2 May 2011

Pony Express New Forest Ultra Run April 2011

Getting off the train you could spot the runners, rucksacks, water bottles and tight clothing. A short walk took us to the registration in Brockenhurst. After a race debriefing I managed to go through my gear again and yet again (after 5 times the previous night) and managed to discard a few bits that I decided were not needed, mainly due to knowing now that there were 3 checkpoints with food and water on route. Onto the start line and a non-too fast start for 90 odd runners. For today we had over 30miles to navigate and for most they had another 30 tomorrow.
Setting off with the front-runners at a comfortable pace into the glorious surroundings of the New Forest. A little way in I notice that my backside was soaked and that my water bladder had a leak. So after emptying my drenched rucksack I consoled myself that at least I had decided to keep one 500ml water bottle and knew with the CP’s that I could get through the race. The route was marked well but many bits of tape and signs had been removed by unhappy locals (or maybe they were just trying to keep the countryside tidy?). This only caused one route problem up to CP1, which was fairly quickly resolved by following other runners in the hope they could read a map.
CP1 9miles 1hr22
Stopped and had a little food and filled up my small water bottle then set off in a good rhythm staying with a group of steady runners. After chatting to most of these. They had all done a ton of races and were mainly hardened club runners. Which got me both wanting to do more races but not getting ahead of myself I was questioning whether I was going at too fast a pace by staying with these guys. But the company was good so I stuck with it and after getting slightly lost again and losing a fair few minutes it was comforting to be with others. On a flat disused train track we really hit a fast pace where I should of slowed down but didn’t as I was in deep conversation with a women, Cleo, who was using this as a training run for a marathon race tomorrow? Hard as nails comes to mind. One day I might get my head around that.
CP2 17miles (8miles 1hr16)
Refuelling again at the CP some friends, Jonny and Anna, by pure chance happened to pass by while I was there. So after telling me I was looking good – and I was feeling good – I set off to literally feel my legs tire immediately. But I stuck with some runners and again got lost. After a long debriefing we set off up a road and came to the marked route not long after. Once back on track I decided not to keep up with these fast runners and slowed a little. Alone and in the heat of the day I was joined by another very experienced runner, James, whose pace was more suited to mine, thankfully, as we kept each other company to the end.
CP3 24miles (7miles 1hr12)
Somehow I had run too quick as we got to CP3 before they had managed to set up with water and food. With luck someone was on hand to share his dogs water rations and with only 10k left I was happy not to eat especially as my guts were not feeling the best. The next leg was a mixture of long hot tracks, beautiful riverside trails up the Avon. Getting lost in the middle of Ringwood and waiting patiently while 3 old locals tried to explain the best way out by giving us house by house instructions. Finally retrieving our maps we headed out thanking them but still unsure on the best route out. Once we found our way out of Ringwood the homestretch was on. The last 3 miles were a joyous countdown but we were reminded it was no picnic with a continuous stream of sties to crawl over. These obstacles sure do make your legs scream for you to stop. But stop we didn’t and the finish line came with mixed emotions. No more, happiness, ouch that hurt., pride. What next?
Finish 30.5miles 4hrs55 (CP3 6.5miles 1hr5). Placed 10th.
Amazing day and great organised event by xnrg. It wasn’t easy but it challenges you and that brings special memories.

A massive thanks to those who sponsored me. It does help knowing that you are running for a cause than just for yourself.

Now I plan for my next challenge. Look at my blog as I will keep this up to date with a few of the things I do.


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